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By Caroline Downs
Citizens in Kenmare will have the opportunity to choose six city officials in the June 12th election, although each of the candidates is running unopposed.
The election is open to all voters living in Kenmare who are U.S. citizens and at least 18 years old on the day of the election. Voters must also be North Dakota residents and a resident of the precinct for at least 30 days prior to the election.
The only local polling site on June 12th will be at the Kenmare Memorial Hall between the hours of 7 am and 7 pm.
Three city council seats are up for election, with incumbent Troy Hedberg and new candidates Christian Standard and Tori Kling listed on the ballot for those four-year terms.
Incumbents DuWayne Gilseth and Dennis Heidel have each filed for re-election to their four-year positions on the Park Board.
Incumbent Kurt Heninger is running for a two-year term to keep his position as the city’s municipal judge.
Absentee ballots are available from the Ward County Auditor’s Office in Minot or by calling 701-857-6420. Voters must return an absentee ballot application to the Ward County Auditor, P.O. Box 5005, Minot, ND, 58702, before the election. The auditor’s office will mail out a ballot after an application is received.
All absentee ballots must be returned to the Ward County Auditor’s Office, or postmarked, by June 11th.
Early voting in Ward County will be held May 31st, June 1st, and June 4-7 in the Ex-Servicemen’s Room at the Ward County Courthouse, 315 3rd Street SE in Minot. Polling site hours are between 11 am and 6 pm on those dates.
More information about absentee ballots and early voting can be found on the Ward County website at www.co.ward.nd.us/election.
Park Board candidate Dennis Heidel was unavailable for an interview.
Incumbent Troy Hedberg was first elected to the city council in 2010 to fill an unexpired term. Since then, he has involved himself in planning for Kenmare’s future.
“I was one of the instigators behind the comprehensive grow plan,” he said, referring to Kenmare’s Growth Management Plan adopted by the council earlier this month. “Now I want to see us stick to it. I want an orderly, planned growth for Kenmare.”
Hedberg has lived the last 10 years in Kenmare. He serves as branch manager for Town & Country Credit Union in Kenmare and farms with his father and brother near Carpio. He and his wife Stacie, a Kenmare native, are the parents of daughter Rylee, 4, and son Landon, 2.
He appreciates the approach the city has taken toward growth and development so far, with voters approving the one-cent sales tax for use on necessary infrastructure. “There’s money we’ve already spent and money we need to spend in the next few years,” he said, “but we don’t want to overburden anyone.”
In addition to an expansion of sewer and water lines to accommodate development needs, Hedberg believes city employee recruitment and retention will be important during the next few years. “As the city grows, we’ll need more people to work here,” he said, “and along with that we’ll need more office and shop space.”
With the new zoning ordinances in effect, Hedberg wants to see a trailer park developed independently for the community to meet the demand for that housing. He is also concerned about the increased use of 6th Street/County Road 2 through the heart of town and the related traffic safety issues.
Hedberg pointed to recent progress made by the city on development projects. “We’ve got the four-plexes built. We’ve got the infrastructure into the new Gooseneck Implement site, and we’re getting the 12-plex built,” he said. “It’s my hope that developers look at the money the city of Kenmare has invested to get this infrastructure in place and see Kenmare as a good place to do business.”
Hedberg has participated in several community and area organizations since moving to town. He currently serves as the vice-president for the Renville County Farmers Union, and is a volunteer with the Kenmare Fire Department and member of the Kenmare Lions Club.
“I hope everybody knows I’ll look at every side of an issue,” he said, “and listen to every opinion before making a decision.”
Paul Christian Standard
Voters will see the name “Paul Standard” listed on the ballot for this candidate, but Kenmare area residents know him as “Christian.”
“I’d prefer to go by my middle name,” he said. “That’s a family tradition.”
Standard moved with his wife Rebecca to Kenmare about a year and a half ago from Oregon for a lifestyle change. “It’s nice to for your children to go to school without having 45 kids in their classroom or 600 kids in their grade,” he said. “It’s nice to have the ability to allow your kids to walk to the corner store without being afraid.”
The Standards are parents of son Marcus, who still lives in Oregon and will be a freshman this fall, and daughters Xandria and Haley, who will enter eighth and second grades respectively this fall at Kenmare Public school.
Standard works as a mechanic in Kenmare, and has education and experience in business management. He also volunteers with the Kenmare Fire Department. The 2012 Kenmare city council election marks the first time he has run for public office.
“If you don’t do something, then don’t complain,” he said. “I say you should step up beyond voting into a public position and make a difference.”
As a teenager and young adult growing up in Oregon, he witnessed communities near his home change drastically through over-development as California retirees “discovered” his area. He doesn’t want the same thing to happen to Kenmare as a result of the current energy boom.
“The atmosphere changed,” he said. “Most businesses were boarded up and people didn’t know each other. You lose the sense of community in everything.”
He continued,” Development is good and growth is good, but it must be done with some foresight.”
As a council member, he would like to see the city address the need for affordable housing and the survival of local businesses. He is also concerned about profiteering, especially in relation to housing costs and the impact on the city’s eldest residents.
“At one point, we’ve got to look at the senior citizens,” he said. “This is the community they built. If we price them out of the housing market and the commodities market, what are we doing to ourselves?”
He noted he has seen Kenmare change already, losing some of the friendly hospitality he and his family experienced when they first arrived. He believes the city can play a role in generating community pride and activities that include newcomers as well as long-time residents.
He encouraged the city’s residents to voice their concerns and ideas at a council meeting or to council members. “Tell me, ‘This is what I think,’ or ‘This is what I see,’” he said. “Find somebody to tell who can make a difference.”
He believes his status as a relative newcomer to town will benefit the council. “I’ll bring different experiences in life from a different background,” he said. “That’s the nice thing about having somebody on the city council who didn’t grow up here.”
Tori Kling moved to Kenmare three years ago from South Dakota when she accepted a position with Burke-Divide Electric Cooperative.
As the office manager for the Kenmare location, Kling believes she has a unique perspective on the community. “Due to the work and growth we’re experiencing there, I know about the growth that’s coming to Kenmare,” she said. “I want to be able to say I had a part in the growth and the success of Kenmare.”
As the mother of two daughters--Alix, who will be a sophomore at the Rapid City School of Mines, and Dani, who will be a sophomore at Kenmare High School--Kling wants the safety of families and children to remain a consideration as the town grows. “It has to be one of the main focuses in how we move forward,” she said.
The need for more housing and new residential developments interests Kling. “But with that comes safety,” she said, referring to a development proposed by Annabelle Homes last year on the east side of U.S. Highway 52.
At the time of those discussions, some local residents expressed their concerns about children and families crossing the busy highway throughout the day. Various options were mentioned, including a walkway, traffic lights and reduced speeds.
“We would need to educate the children and educate the parents who would live over there,” Kling said. “The local police do an excellent job of patrolling that now, but we would have to try to do everything we can do as a community to make it safe.”
Kling described herself as someone who enjoys hard work, and she expected to bring that level of commitment to the city council. “I’ll put 110 percent into it,” she said. “I’m excited for the opportunity to learn more, and I believe the council addresses matters where my input can help make things better.”
DuWayne Gilseth is seeking his first elected term on the Park Board, after serving since 2009 to fill the position left by his friend and longtime Park Board member, the late Margie Helmers.
As a Kenmare native and the owner of Kenmare Super Valu, Gilseth appreciates the community’s interest in and support of the parks, especially the city park downtown. “I enjoy working down there, and I enjoy hearing comments from people about how nice the park looks,” he said.
He was quick to credit other volunteers with their help with decorating and maintaining the park through the seasons, including Barb Mickelsen, Dr. Eric Ganes and the Kenmare FFA kids. “Every little bit helps,” he said.
He also expressed his gratitude for the support and donations from the Kenmare Veteran’s Club for a variety of projects each year. “They help out considerably,” he said.
Gilseth can often be found in the downtown park, setting out flags for patriotic holidays, taking down or putting up Christmas lights or even changing a bulb in one of the decorative lights around the square.
He would like to see the Park Board and the city coordinate efforts to replace all the lighting around the park, which has been discussed by the city council. “It’s long overdue,” he said. “Those lights are worn out. We need to get it done now, make our square look more presentable.”
Gilseth also volunteers with the Kenmare Fire Department. He described his work with the Park Board as relaxing. “I just enjoy doing it, and it’s a tribute to Marge,” he said. “She was a good friend, and it’s an honor to be doing this for her.”
Kurt Heninger wants to continue his service as the city’s municipal judge. He previously held the position from 2001 to 2008, and then was appointed by Mayor Ness earlier this year to fill the vacancy left by Duane Dockter.
“I enjoy doing it,” Heninger said. “I like working with the police department on court nights, and it’s important that we’re able to take care of some of our problems locally rather than send them on to Minot. We need somebody to do that, and I’m willing to do that.”
Heninger and his wife Bev are the parents of grown children and have lived in Kenmare for 19 1/2 years. “That’s the longest I’ve ever lived in a place,” he said. “We’re almost not newbies anymore!” He has a long career in the oilfield, and currently works for Eagle Operating.
When Heninger began his first term 11 years ago, the city still handled DUI cases, but those are now sent to district court in Minot. “Most of the cases I hear are minor infractions,” he said, “but it’s important for people to know there’s a set of laws here. If they are written up, they have to answer for their infraction, or at least come and argue their point.”
Heninger believes his overall performance in municipal court shows him to be a fair and equitable judge. “Well, I try to be,” he said, then laughed. “Some people may not think so.”