Editor’s Note: This is the third in a series of articles about Wahpeton’s city council races. Election Day is Tuesday, June 9.
Two people with political experience are facing off for an opening on the Wahpeton City Council.
Current Councilwoman at-large Tiana Bohn is running against former North Dakota state Rep. Bruce Eckre to serve as Wahpeton’s 3rd Ward council member. If elected, Bohn or Eckre would serve the last two years of a council term ending in 2022.
“The city of Wahpeton is a great place to live, work and play, and I am proud of having a direct impact in the last 15 years,” Bohn said.
Since his youth, Eckre said, he has followed local, state and federal government activity.
“I like to be involved. I served three sessions in the North Dakota Legislature and was also vice chair of the Wahpeton Economic Development Commission,” Eckre said.
Eckre’s community involvement also includes serving on the boards of the Richland County Historical Museum, Richland County Senior Citizens and Southeast Senior Services, as well as teaching high school and college government courses for more than 20 years. Bohn, a training coordinator with ComDel Innovation, Wahpeton, is a member of organizations including the Wahpeton Breckenridge Rotary Club, Community Band of Wahpeton-Breckenridge and Surrounding Communities and Community Choir and Orchestra.
“Serving on the council has been one of the ways that I can volunteer my leadership and management skills and contribute to the vibrancy of Wahpeton,” she said.
City finances and economic opportunities are among the planks of both candidates’ platforms.
“If elected, I have some ideas on economic development that I will pursue if the rest of the city council agrees,” Eckre said.
Bohn said she would like to continue working on identifying possibilities for local business owners.
“We currently have some great tools in the toolbox for existing owners, but we need to keep going another step further to help them overcome the challenges and support them through these challenges,” she said.
Support is key to another of Eckre’s goals if elected.
“Wahpeton has an excellent fire, police and street department, and we as a community need to keep that,” he said.
The city’s 2021 budget will be complicated by both the ongoing impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and the continued needs of communities, Bohn said.
“I have extensive knowledge and background in the city projects that have been in the planning stages and the ongoing needs of the city to assist in making tough decisions that may have to be made to keep our budget balanced without negatively impacting our citizens,” she said.
Eckre is also paying attention to the pandemic.
“I am concerned about the lack of city revenue because of the virus situation,” he said. “State revenues are way down and our city revenues will be down too.”
Wahpeton’s city ballot will also include: races for the 1st Ward, where Abby Heitkamp is running in an uncontested race for a term ending in 2022; 2nd Ward, where Jason Goltz is running in an uncontested race for a four-year term ending in 2024; 4th Ward, where Bryan Wolfgram is running against David Woods II for a term ending in 2024; two at-large positions, with terms ending in 2024, which former 3rd Ward Councilman Brett Lambrecht and Renata Fobb are running for; two Wahpeton Park Board positions, which Tyler Gripentrog is the only filed candidate for (write-in candidates are permitted; the terms end in 2024); and whether or not city minutes should continue to be published in the official newspaper, the Daily News.
No polling locations will be open in Wahpeton on Election Day, a precaution taken because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Ballots can be mailed to the Richland County Auditor’s office, Richland County Courthouse, 418 Second Ave. N, Wahpeton, ND 58075.
Ballots can also be dropped off at the courthouse’s northwest corner. Any ballot mailed to the auditor’s office must be postmarked by Monday, June 8. The courthouse’s dropbox will be available until 4 p.m. on Election Day.
Eckre and Bohn each reflected on what they’d bring to the table if elected. They shared qualities including meeting and working with knowledgeable individuals and seeking multiple viewpoints and information.
“I ask lots of questions and encourage open discussions to make sure that the action doesn’t have unintended consequences before recommendation or council adoptions,” Bohn said.
“I will bring a well-rounded background in government, community service and involvement,” Eckre said.
Look to Daily News for continued coverage of North Dakota and Minnesota’s campaigns, candidates and items under consideration.