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The June 12 city election will see five candidates vying for two City Commissioner seats vacated by George Dutton and Jon Wagar. This week, the T-R will interview all five candidates to provide a better look at those seeking office and their take on the issues facing Valley City.
Going alphabetically, the first interviewee is candidate Bob Drake.
Occupation: Restauranteur for 40 years, lived in Valley City for 22 years
Education: High school, Delta College for 2 years
Family: Wife Tammy, seven sons and daughters and four grandkids.
Organizatons: Committee for Community Involvement
Why do you want to be a City Commissioner? â€śMostly I want to give back to the community thatâ€™s been good to me. I just think I can do a good job on the commission and bring people together.
My main goal is working on special assessments and making them more fair for the entire community. The way it is now, itâ€™s the most unfair thing Iâ€™ve seen a city do to a bunch of people, and theyâ€™re doing it over and over again. Iâ€™m talking about Fourth near the college, and Fifth and Ninth. They know how to do it the right way, they just wonâ€™t do it.
You have to spread these huge, expensive projects over the entire community. You just canâ€™t dump them on such a small group of people when everybody uses those roads. Valley City is the only one in the whole state of North Dakota that does special assessments this way, everyone else does it right.
Also, the commission always runs on transparency and making City Hall a better place, and I just donâ€™t see it. They donâ€™t listen. Their mentality -- they just give everyone in Valley City a bad rap.â€ť
What are the three biggest issues facing Valley City?
â€śOur infrastructureâ€™s failing, and we need to get that under control.
The flood situation used to be a problem, although now (Commissioner Matt) Pedersenâ€™s taken care of that and done a good job. The third one is probably special assessments, how theyâ€™re doing it and how it needs to be changed.â€ť
What issues do you hope to address on the commission?
â€śBesides special assessments, changing the attitude of the people in Valley City about City Hall and the people that work there. Iâ€™ve never been treated badly at City Hall, except by commissioners. Other people wonâ€™t even go to the city commission meetings because they donâ€™t want to be badgered or belittled, and that should never happen.â€ť
Post-election, what kind of tone would you set with your colleagues at City Hall and your fellow citizens?
â€śI think itâ€™s going to be adversarial to start off with, because they all know about special assessments and the way it should be done, they just didnâ€™t have the willpower to do it. Iâ€™m going to do it with their cooperation, or by initiated ordinance.
Someoneâ€™s got to bring us all together down there, because right now, itâ€™s the city commission and us, and it shouldnâ€™t be that way. Weâ€™re all in this boat together, and weâ€™ve got to make it float.â€ť
How would you best handle the streets or police/fire portfolios (vacated by Commissioners Dutton and Wagar)?
â€śI would want streets. Police and fire, I donâ€™t have much experience with that, but it doesnâ€™t take experience, it takes someone who cares, who wants to do it and is willing to put in the time. Itâ€™s just cooperation, willpower and a little bit of study.â€ť
How would you handle the time commitment of being on the commission?
â€śActually, I think it would be a rest. Weâ€™ve got 30 houses in town, weâ€™ve got the restaurants, Iâ€™ve got seven kids, and Iâ€™ve got to let some of that go to do this. It will be interesting.â€ť
Past experience with city government:
â€śIâ€™ve been involved in city politics for over 15 years, and been to hundreds of City Commission meetings, and Iâ€™ve confronted the commission on several occasions. Myself and members of CCI (Committee for Community Involvement) wrote three ordinances that are still on the books. The city uses our ordinances to promote Valley City as a good place to live and build. The city wanted to redo the fees and permits for building, and it was just outrageous what they wanted. The ordinances passed with a vote of 75 percent support or better. It just made Valley City a better place to live if you wanted to remodel your home. We streamlined it so it was better for everybody.â€ť