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Watford City voters say yes to city sales tax

Posted 6/17/14 (Tue)

By Neal A. Shipman
Farmer Editor

Watford City voters, during the June 10 Election, again said that they are willing to keep digging into their pocketbooks to help the community grow and meet their needs.
City residents voted last Tuesday, by an overwhelming 364 to 63 margin, to not only continue Watford City’s sales tax, but to increase it to 1½ percent.
And that 83 percent approval rating has brought smiles to the faces of Brent Sanford, Watford City mayor, and Dan Kelly, CEO of the McKenzie County Healthcare Systems. Both Sanford and Kelly are working to bring two new major facilities, an Events Center and a replacement healthcare complex, to this growing community.
“The Watford City voters came through again,” states Sanford. “Whenever we need to do something as a community, we come together to see that it is accomplished.”
When Sanford talks about the way city residents come together to get things done, he points to the $27 million school bond referendum to build a new high school that passed by a 90 percent voter approval during a special school election this past March.
“A lot of great community facilities are going to come about because of the passage of the city sales tax,” states Sanford.
One of those community facilities is an Events Center, which is being planned adjacent to the new high school in the Fox Hills development.
“Right now, we are hoping to be able to present our financing plans in June and see how the fund can help the project,” states Sanford.
The other major project, which will now be able to move forward with the passage of the city sales tax initiative, will be a replacement facility for the McKenzie County Healthcare Systems. The new facility would include a new hospital, clinic and nursing home.
The passage of the city sales tax, according to Kelly, was absolutely essential in order for the healthcare system to obtain their USDA loan.
“I have never been more proud to call myself a resident of Watford City,” states Kelly. “I and the healthcare system say ‘Thank You’ to those who voted in favor of this tax - a vote for the future of Watford City.”
Like Sanford, Kelly says that Watford City has a reputation across North Dakota and the nation as being a community that can get things done that need doing. And the passage of the city sales tax initiative was just the latest example of the pride that the people of Watford City take in their community.
“When I have advocated for the needs of western North Dakota in Bismarck and also Washington, D.C., a common message that is presented to me is that Watford City is known as a community that identified a problem and develops a solution to solve that problem,” states Kelly. “That is certainly the case with the recent passage of the city sales tax.”
During last Tuesday’s votes, area residents also elected those that they would like to serve them on city councils and park districts, while also narrowing the field for two hotly-contested McKenzie County races.
McKenzie County Races
Gary Schwartzenberger was the top vote-getter in the three-person race for McKenzie County Sheriff, while Kathy Skarda drew the most votes in the five-person race to fill two seats on the McKenzie County Board of County Commissioners.
In the race for county sheriff, Schwartzenberger garnered 785 votes, while Troy White Owl edged Matthew Johansen by a 250 to 217 vote advantage to move on to the November Election.
In the race for McKenzie County Commissioner, in which the top four voter-getters advance to the November General Election, Kathy Skarda received 635 votes, followed by Vawnita Best, 574, Kent Pedersen, 547, Richard Lawlar, 432, and  Dan Richmond, 144.
Running unchallenged for other county offices, and advancing to the November Election are Linda Svihovec, County Auditor; Jacob Rodenbiker, County State’s Attorney; Ann M. Johnsrud, County Recorder; and  Cheryl Grantier, County Treasurer.
The McKenzie County Farmer will be on the ballot to serve as the official newspaper of McKenzie County.
City Races
In the city of Watford City, Aaron Gravos, Philip K. Riely and Steven J. Sanford were elected to the Watford City City Council and Brent Sanford was elected to another term as city mayor. In the race for three positions on the Watford City Park District, LeAnne Voll, Justin Johnsrud, Allen M. Shelley and Katherine Walters were all elected.
In the city of Arnegard, Bryan L. Bjornstad, Patrick Brunson and Sharon R. Lane were elected to seats on the city council, while Jeffrey Kindel was elected as mayor and Sherry Lervick was elected as Arnegard Municipal Judge.
Darlene Faulkner and Joshua Moody were re-elected to serve on the Arnegard Park Board.
In the city of Alexander, Sheldon Wahlstrom and Joey Hackett were elected to the city council, while Matt Swanson and Jonathan Tullar were elected to Park Board.
School Board Races
Pam Ramage, Heather Wisness, Gary Bruins and Beth Veeder, who were running unchallenged, were re-elected to the McKenzie County School District No. 1 School Board.
Larry Novak and LaShell Mugg-Tjelde defeated Kurt Fixen and Cecile Long to fill the two spots on the Alexander School District No. 2 School Board.
Tyler Tjelde, Britt Poulsen and Jeff Bieber were elected to the Yellowstone School District No. 14  School Board.
Voters in these three school districts also approved the publishing of their school district’s minutes.
District 39 Races
It was a sweep for the Republicans as incumbents Senator Bill Bowman, Representative Keith Kempenich, as well as Representative-Elect Denton Zubke, were the top vote-getters in the race to serve District 39 in the North Dakota Legislature.
Bowman gathered 2,315 votes against Democrat challenger Stephanie Pretzer’s 639 votes in the June Primary Election in the State Senate Race.
In the House of Representative’s race, in which Republicans Kempenich and Zubke squared off against Democat challengers Maddison Voigt and Greg Tank, Kempenich was the top vote-getter with 2,002 votes, followed by Zubke with 1,914 votes, Voigt with 561 votes and Tank with 481 votes.
All the District 39 candidates will advance to the November General Election.