Council members want to continue jobs

Three incumbents on the Minot City Council are running unopposed for re-election June 10.

In Ward 3, Dean Frantsvog, an attorney and professor at Minot State University, wants to continue in the position that he has held on the council since 2002.

Milt Miller is seeking to retain the Ward 4 seat that he has held since elected to fill a vacancy in 2012. A former Minot business owner, he works for Berthold Oil Terminal as a pumper.

In Ward 7, Lisa Olson, a special education teacher at TGU-Granville, is seeking her second term on the council.

The candidates responded to the following questions related to Minot city government.

Are you satisfied with the operations of the city? If there should be changes, what would you suggest?

Frantsvog: At this point, the city is dealing with so many issues that are either flood-related or growth-related, and the sheer volume of these issues do not allow the city to handle each one as timely as they would like. However, the city staff works tremendously hard at keeping things moving forward. While there are certainly things that take more time than we would like, I believe the city is moving in the right direction.

Miller: I think like a small business owner, so of course there are some areas where we could improve, but overall, I am satisfied with the daily operations.

Olson: I think that city services need to be maintained at a level that meets public satisfaction. Public safety should be our number one priority. This includes a reasonable response level for fire and police as well as safe streets for our residents to drive on. There needs to be a sufficient number of city employees to carry out the services that our residents expect.

Has enough been done to assist with flood recovery? Are there additional steps the city could be taking to clean up abandoned properties or address other areas of flood recovery?

Miller: As a flood victim myself, I feel the city has done a lot to assist with flood recovery. We are starting the process to take care of the abandoned homes, and I think that is a big step in the right direction.

Olson: Until the valley is free of unrepaired properties, the flood recovery is not complete. I commend the property owners who worked diligently to repair their properties, and I think they deserve to have their neighborhoods neat and clean. I believe the City of Minot can continue to work with state and federal partners to secure funding to aid in flood recovery. I support recent efforts of citizens and city staff who are looking into ways to rid the valley of untouched, flood-damaged homes.

Frantsvog: I am happy to see some progress in this area recently. The city has never “forgotten” about the problems facing our valley with regard to the abandoned homes, but the lack of progress makes people feel that way. The property rights of both the owners of the abandoned homes and also the other homeowners who have rebuilt need to be respected. We must make the owners of these abandoned homes accountable and also make sure the cleanup costs are not passed on to the remaining taxpayers, but rather assessed against the abandoned property.

Is Minot doing a good job of managing its growth? What improvements might the city be able to make in this area and how could the city best go about making those improvements?

Olson: I don’t believe that we, as a city, were prepared for the rapid growth. It would have been nearly impossible and impractical to build up to the level that is now required to meet our needs. With that being said, I think the city has a better handle on the growth, and is doing a better job of planning and adhering to zoning codes.

Frantsvog: Things can always be better and hindsight is 20-20. For all of the concerns that some people may have about how the growth is not helping Minot, there are just as many who are enjoying the development and taking advantage of the opportunities that this growth brings. Our job is to manage the growth as best we can and remember to help our residents not see such an undue burden that the growth brings with it.

Miller: With the growth that Minot has seen so far, I feel that the city has managed it well. I foresee more growth for Minot and if we continue to manage it by looking at the big picture, we will manage the future growth just fine too.

What are the main issues in your ward that you would seek to address?

Frantsvog: The streets and development of North Hill are the most pressing issues that are facing our ward.

Miller: The main issue that I see/hear from the residents of Ward 4 is that there is little communication among city officials and the community. I would try to have more media involvement.

Olson: I live in and represent the Seventh Ward. This ward encompasses areas of Minot that are nearly a century old as well as areas of new construction. The Seventh Ward includes residential, commercial and retail properties. As with many areas in Minot, the Seventh Ward needs street repair or street improvements.

The need for a new search for city manager and the firing of a new city attorney have some residents concerned about the city’s hiring processes. What are your thoughts on the situation?

Miller: I feel that we will eventually find the right people for the city manager and the city attorney positions. As far as my opinion on the firing of the city attorney, it was an unfortunate situation that has affected how people view city officials.

Olson: I think that the process of filling these key positions is involved and lengthy. The City of Minot had two quality people in these positions for many years, and we expect to find replacements that meet or exceed their level of professionalism. I am confident that we will have these positions filled within the next few months, and in the interim, city staff is handling the duties.

Frantsvog: In my 12 years on the council, we have hired many department heads and they have overwhelmingly been great hires. The cost of using a search firm is not always justified. With that being said, I support the hiring of the current city manager search firm as the initial search was unsuccessful.

What are your priorities for the city in terms of things you would like to see happen?

Olson: I believe that creating a balance between managed growth and fiscal responsibility are imperative.

Frantsvog: My previous comments highlight many of the issues facing the city, and they are the priorities.

Miller: I would like us to find a new permanent city manager that is a good fit for Minot and that has its best interest at heart.

What knowledge and background would you bring to the position that would be beneficial?

Frantsvog: My 12 years on the council and my understanding of the budget process are helpful in my current position.

Miller: My experience of owning and running two successful businesses and just being a good listener for the residents of Ward 4.

Olson: I have served on Minot’s City Council for 4 years. In my first term, I have served on the Finance and Improvements Committee, the Liquor and Gambling Committee, the Minot Public Library Board, the Ward County Planning Commission, the Community Development Committee and the Franchise Committee. I was actively involved at the Emergency Operations Center during the 2011 flood fight as well as participating in numerous neighborhood and community meetings.