Ramsey County Commission race is one to watch for 2016

Staff Writer
Devils Lake Journal
The Ramsey County Commission: Bill Mertens, Ed Brown, Myrna Heisler, County Auditor Elizabeth Fischer, Mark E. Olson and Adam Leiphon at the April 5 8 a.m. meeting.

One of the more interesting races to watch this year will be that of the Ramsey County Commission.

There are three seats up for election this year: Myrna Heisler and Mark E. Olson are the incumbents. Both are running for re-election. The third seat is held by Bill Mertens who decided not to run again.

They are being challenged by Scott Diseth, Jeff Frith, Kelsie Bye and write-in candidate Lucas Wakefield.

Presently the Ramsey County Commission is made up of five elected officials: Myrna Heisler is the commission’s president. Mark Olson, Adam Leiphon, Ed Brown and Bill Mertens complete the roster.

Encompassed under the county’s supervision are a number of departments including the County Auditor, Ramsey County Sheriff, Social Services, Tax Equalization, Veterans Services Office, County Recorder, States Attorney, Highway Department, Treasurer, Emergency Management, Extension Office and the Superintendent of Schools.

The commission meets twice monthly at 8 a.m. the first Tuesday of each month and at 5:30 p.m. on the third Tuesday of each month. Each meeting lasts between one to three hours, depending on the length of the agenda.

It is the president of the commission who sets each meeting’s agenda and chairs the meetings.

Being a commissioner is time consuming and there are specific commitments expected beyond the two meetings each month. All commissioners are expected to be accessible to the public and to represent Ramsey County on numerous boards and other commissions. Their attendance and active participation on those boards is meant to keep the county commission apprised of what is happening within the county. Each commissioner gives a monthly portfolio report to the commission on the boards for which they are responsible.

Commissioners are paid $1,414.20 per month by the county. They are offered the option of ND PERS Retirement for which they pay seven percent and the county pays 8.2 percent. They also have the option of ND PERS life insurance, but they pay the full cost, the county does not pay any portion of this. Many of the boards they sit on as county representatives also pay a stipend, like the Social Services Board, for example, pays $45 a month and the Planning and Zoning Commission pays $35 but it normally meets on a quarterly basis.

Most boards meet at least once a month, but not all boards meet monthly, and some meet more often than that, it depends on the board and what is happening on their agenda.

Commissioners regularly make trips to Bismarck to meet with state legislators and/or the governor on specific issues.

Special meetings crop up often for the commission when dealing with an emergency situation, for example, or crucial decisions that must be made and it can’t wait until the next regularly scheduled commission meeting.

This is a list of some of the board commitments for this year’s commission:

•Lake Social Service District Myrna Heisler and Ed Brown

•Ramsey County Housing Authority Board:  Adam Leiphon

•Ramsey County Planning Commission: Myrna Heisler, Bill Mertens

•District Health Board: Myrna Heisler

•Senior Commission on Aging: Ed Brown

•Senior Meals & Services Ed Brown

•North Central Planning Council: Bill Mertens and Myrna Heisler

•Special Assessment Commission: Bill Mertens Indefinite

•Law Enforcement Center Board: Mark E. Olson and Ed Brown

•Ramsey County Fall Fair Board: Mark E. Olson

•Ramsey County Airport Authority: Bill Mertens

•Forward DL Development Corporation: Adam Leiphon, Myrna Heisler

•Lake Region Library Board: Myrna Heisler

•Road Committee: Ed Brown , Bill Mertens

•Devils Lake Chamber Board: Adam Leiphon

•LR Heritage Center Board: Mark E Olson

•Dakota Prairie Community Action Agency: Bill Mertens

•Mayor’s Task Force for Youth: Mark E. Olson

•Lake Access Committee:  Bill Mertens

•O & M Committee (Embankment): Bill Mertens, Ed Brown

•Devils Lake Outlet Advisory Committee: Bill Mertens

•Memorial Building Committee: Mark E Olson, Bill Mertens

•Human Resource Committee: Adam Leiphon, Bill Mertens