As part of our Disability Vote 2022 effort, we asked all of the candidates running for Mayor and City Council one question:
If you are elected, how will you work to make Minot a more accessible community for people with all types of disabilities?
The following are answers from the candidates.
Shaun Sipma - Current Mayor and Candidate for Mayor
"As a City we are working through a backlog of updating curbsides to be ADA compliant which will continue forward. We are also planning for snow emergency routes for pedestrians to be sure high traffic areas of sidewalks are accessible after snow events. I would continue to work with organizations throughout Minot to gather ideas on what improvements are needed and where funding can be accessed to more quickly make those improvements. There are numerous grant programs available to different levels of government for improvements which most do require a local match. If we, as a community, were to outline a priority list we could better target specific grant dollars for those improvements. Numerous infrastructure improvement and maintenance projects are already behind due to funding. If accessible improvements can be worked into projects that would help create better accessibility it would be better fiscally as it is easier to incorporate those into designs rather than coming back later at a higher cost.
Also affordable housing is a key component of being accessible as a community. The National Disaster Resilient Grant specifically designated projects to add and improve LMI housing in Minot. Numerous LMI townhomes will be complete later in 2022 which will enable more people to have access to affordable housing. The NDR project also enabled a major overhaul of Milton Young Towers in downtown Minot to improve accessibility and the overall living conditions of the low-to-moderate housing facility."
Tom Ross - Candidate for Mayor
"A couple points need to be made. First and foremost, all people no matter the disability have the right to enjoy access to every part of our community. The organizations that represent them have made great strides in helping create access up to this point and should be very proud of their accomplishments. Secondly, the basis of my campaign, is "Together we can". How does that help? Simple, as asking the questions, and listen closely. Accessibility needs education, even educating the next Mayor of Minot. The opportunity exists right now to bring the next Mayor on board, educate. I've often said, knowledge is power, knowledge is confidence, and knowledge can move mountains. Do I know everything about this? Not even close, but my history of working together with so many community organizations, you can bet, and you can rely on the fact that I have the background, vision, and energy to find the proper resources to make all people living with all types of disabilities to be proud to say they live, work, and thrive in Minot, the Magic City."
Miranda Schuler - Candidate for Mayor
"As a strong advocate for the mission of Independence, Inc. (and former board President), I promise to continue the conversations that bring light to accessibility within Minot, and the region for that matter. Simple conversations with members of the CIL community with regard to services, enhancements and overall well-being of persons who live and work in Minot with disabilities have long reaching benefits for all citizens. In the role of Mayor, I will continue to be an advocate for persons with disabilities and will rely on your group of change makers to help enhance the community for all citizens."
Zach Raknerud - Candidate for Minot City Council
"Making Minot accessible to all its residents is very important to me. To accomplish that, there needs to be a specific focus on that accessibility when making any decision. This will be particularly important when working on our new City Hall and all developments, both new and rehabilitative. Minot leaders should always be seeking resources available to fund these sorts of accessibility projects, making sure to keep these concerns in the main view rather than the rear view. That's what I will do if elected to the council."
Lisa Olson - Current City Council Member and Candidate for Minot City Council
"I will use two important tools to create more accessibility in Minot. The first tool, will be my experience. I am a retired Special Education teacher, once awarded Independence, Inc.'s Advocate of the Year award. My second tool comes from 12 years as a Civic Leader. My understanding of disabilities, both seen and unseen, helps me understand some of the unique challenges that many individuals experience. I feel that the community, as a whole, understands physical disabilities, and is typically willing to provide accommodations, when made aware of them. Unfortunately, decisions decades ago, allowed for entire neighborhoods to be built without sidewalk access. While on the City Council, I have always supported mandatory installation of ADA compliant sidewalks, whenever they are being built. I supported the ordinance that requires taxi cabs to have accessible vehicles. As part of the new City Hall Building Committee, I have supported easy accessibility for all of our citizens. This will include access to public restrooms during normal business hours and for special downtown events. I believe the unseen disabilities are less understood by the general public. Autism, Learning Disabilities, Anxiety, Mental Illness, Hearing Loss, Vision Impairment and so on, effect a person's life on a daily basis. Understanding these disabilities and allowing for self advocacy to address individual needs, can benefit not only the individual, but the entire community. I feel that it is important to note, that while not all homeless individuals have a disability, many do. Accessibility to meals, lodging, health care and education are vital to securing the tools necessary for long term success."
Mark Jantzer - Current City Council Member and Candidate for Minot City Council
"I will try to increase my awareness, and that of others, that not everyone shares the same level of mobility, strength, intellect, confidence, communication skill, or assertiveness that most of us take for granted. I think that many disabilities and those who have them go unseen in our community. We therefore need to seek out those who are providing care and get some insight. Certainly, there are some basic things we can do: When planning changes to city infrastructure, I will try to bear in mind that accessibility needs to be not just for those who have full mobility, thinking creatively beyond ADA requirements. When providing opportunities for citizen input, I will ask that we provide ways for people who are more homebound to participate if they can’t readily attend a public meeting. I will support projects like the National Disaster Resilience Grant Family Shelter, so we have a way to care for and better the situation of those families who temporarily don’t have financial means to take care of themselves. Teaming with and supporting other organizations in the community that provide assistance and help for the disabled is a strategy I support, understanding that each of us has a part to play and can make a unique contribution to the effort. I will continue to support increasing mental health services and addiction treatment programs in Minot."