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Complete Coverage of 'Our Vote Matters'

In order to better inform the voters of Minot, we reached out to each of the candidates for Mayor and City Council and asked them a very simple question:

If you are elected, how will you work to make Minot a more accessible community for people with all types disabilities?

The following candidates were the only ones to respond to our question. Please review these answers and use it to become a more informed voter.

All bios are from the KMOT election bio, which you can read here.

Mayor of Minot

Shaun Sipma Shaun Sipma is no stranger to being a voice for the Minot community. Sipma worked as an award-winning television news journalist in Minot before moving to the insurance industry. Sipma has also involved himself with the group ‘Farm Rescue’ that helps farmers recovering from disaster or illness tend to their fields and flocks. Elected to the City Council last year, Sipma was involved with the #MakeMinot movement that successfully shrunk Minot’s local government to its current ‘modern council’ format.

Answer: Over the last couple of years city leadership has implemented many programs and improvements to further help people with disabilities or those who are home bound keep in touch with city activities. For the 2018 budget we a council had allocated funds for camera and audio equipment to be able to podcast and stream city meetings giving everyone instant access live to important meetings that happen on a regular basis. We had also approved a modification to the council leadership desk allowing anyone with a disability to have access in the form of a ramp in council chambers if he or she would ever want to run for an elected position or if a city employee who was disabled would need to perform his or her duty in that area. Looking ahead to future advancements moving the bus transfer station near the future Community Gathering Space downtown will give everyone direct access to the Main Street area including dining, shopping and socializing. In the future utilizing the National Disaster Resilience Program moving City Hall downtown would also be significantly helpful in centralizing assistant programs and numerous non-profits under one roof. That idea is being researched with a four year window left with the NDR Program dollars. Having the assistant programs and groups along with numerous non-profits under one roof would greatly increase the efficiency in getting help quickly to those who need it rather than crisscrossing town between all the different entities. Following the International Economic Development Council's report due later this June the focus will be bringing all of the community assets to the table including organizations such as Independence, Inc. to put plans into action for economic reinvestment into our community and revitalization. I fully expect all demographics to be represented and play an important part in growing our city from with for the benefit of everyone. One specific idea I have for growth is halting the outward expansion of our city limits and focus on infill and reinvestment. Aside from the costs that far outweigh the benefit of outward growth being able to keep further develop and redevelop as mixed-use in the heart of our city makes it easier for people with disabilities to live, work and socialize in an area. It would provide for all of their needs rather than having to travel everywhere for those qualities of life. In the next four years we will also work hard through the NDR program to help rehabilitate aging Low- to-Moderate Income Housing within that corridor to help improve the lives of people living in those facilities and making them more accessible for people with disabilities.

Tim Mihalick Tim Mihalick has left his mark on many different aspects of the Minot community over the past four decades. Mihalick worked for IRET for 36 years, including its president and CEO for the last eight years, until his retirement in 2017. He now works as a business development officer for First Western Bank & Trust. Over the years Mihalick has also been involved with Minot State University, First Lutheran Church, Minot’s YMCA, and Trinity Health.

Answer: For me “all comers” means what it says. It’s meant to be inclusive of all people regardless of whether they have a disability or are dealing with the effects of aging. Crucial to any plan is communication with those affected and relaying their concerns and needs to those who can provide the help necessary. In my previous career, we found out early on that a tenant needed a fully compliant ADA apartment unit and we were able to modify the plans to provide a fully ADA accessible unit. Listening and reacting to the needs of people is invaluable. We included elevators in our apartment buildings to make them accessible and enlarged bathrooms allowing for wheelchair accessibility. Simple things, but worthwhile in the long run. Regarding our aging population, as our retirees adjust to their new lifestyle we want to keep them in Minot. I want to make sure we address that by providing affordable housing so they can stay close to family and medical services they have had for most of their life. Whether it is a public-private partnership, public or private venture we need to explore opportunities to make it affordable to keep families close to each other. Additionally, I am a Meals on Wheels volunteer and recognize the importance programs like this have by allowing people to maintain their independence. Although all of what I talk about is what has happened in the past, I believe it is indicative of my commitment to the future and my hope that communication about advocacy for all effected occurs.

City Council

Lisa Olson Lisa Olson was first elected to the Minot City Council in 2010. Olson has pushed for flood protection for the Minot area along with affordable housing options. Olson has said that women are an under-represented part of the community and has stressed the importance of women serving in local government.

Answer: I am a career educator who has spent the last 18 years in special education. A large part of my job is to serve as an advocate for my students within the school setting. I proudly accepted the Independence Inc. Advocate of the Year Award in 2014 for my efforts at TGU Granville School. I strive to apply those same ideas in city government. My voting record will show that I have supported accessibility ordinances to make Minot easier to navigate. I believe that most people are aware of and try to accommodate for physical disabilities, but I believe it is also important to accommodate for invisible disabilities such as Autism. I hope that my role in municipal government can also help promote open communication about disability awareness so that advocacy is commonplace among all of our citizens.

Steve Podrygula Dr. Stephan Podrygula has served on the Minot City Council on three separate occasions. He brings a unique perspective to council discussion as a clinical psychiatrist. Podrygula has stressed flood protection, fiscal responsibility, and government transparency in his time in public service.

Answer: As a clinical and health/rehabilitation psychologist, I've spent 40 years working with people, with all types of disabilities, achieve more fulfilling and productive lives. Accessibility is second nature to me. Accessibility isn't just curb cuts, lifts and ramps on buses, and "handicapped" parking spaces. Fundamentally, it's an attitude and a commitment that we should actively work to make our community welcoming to everyone. We’ve started by making government itself more accessible and transparent. In the past several months, we've built a ramp onto the dais in the city Council chambers, set up a lectern so people with mobility impairments can more easily speak, and broadcast our proceedings (so people at home can watch and listen to what goes on). When we set up our automated waste collection program, we made sure to offer "valet service" to individuals who are unable to take their trash containers to the curb. On several occasions, I've gone out with Meals on Wheels volunteers to deliver food, and have seen, first-hand, the important role they play in keeping elderly persons in their homes and supporting them with independent living. But we can still do better. For example – on our job opportunities website page, and in our hiring practices – instead of simply saying the city "does not discriminate", we should be saying that the city "actively seeks a diverse workforce", and do more in the way of outreach to try to attract people from different backgrounds and with different characteristics. As a major employer in the community, we need to be a model of accessibility and involvement. When we review review building permit and business development program applications, we should always be thinking about how we make structures and activities welcoming, not just accessible (e.g., in planning our new downtown gathering space). We need to partner with other parts of government (e.g., the schools, parks system, Job Services, etc.) to be sure that every citizen has the opportunities they deserve. Edward Montez

Edward Montez looks to make a name for himself in the Minot political scene and make a difference in the Minot community. Montez is no stranger to elections—he launched a campaign for city council last year. Montez has said he wants to work to tackle the growing addiction problem. He works as a store manager for Enerbase.

Answer: I would like to promote more engagement with all members of the community. I know it's important for many of those with disabilities to feel a sense of belonging with others, I would like the city to promote more events for community engagement that would be open to all. Also I know that public transportation could use a major overhaul as many of our disabled citizens rely on it to meet their day to day functions. As far as the other needs of those with disabilities I would like to hear from someone with knowledge in that area such as yourself. What would you like to see the city accomplish or believe the city could do better? I'm running to not only lead but listen to the constituents, to understand and try to meet their needs.

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