Mertens in race for city commissioner

Staff reports

After 14 years on the Devils Lake Park Board, the last handful as president, Joe Mertens feels it's time for a change.

He's tossing his hat in the ring for a spot on the city commission.

“I told my wife that I planned to run for city commission or mayor sometime in the future, and I think the time is right,” Mertens said Thursday.

“Running for mayor might be out of the question right now because of my work commitments, but down the line that could be a possibility too.”

Mertens feels his experiences on the park board, and his dealings with “Joe & Bros Mow For Dough,” a lawn care business he runs, could serve him well on the city commission.

But at the same time, he knows the lake flooding and water problems are the top issues facing the city.

He says the present city commission did a marvelous job of securing new water for the city and building up infrastructure and other matters, but a way must be found to stabilize the lake.

“And I want to be here and be a part of that solution,” Mertens added. “The lake will always be here and hopefully someday it will be stable, but we've got to fix it.”

Mertens said he is confident that the lake will be stabilized someday, but there are other issues to be addressed as well.

Trying to get industry here could be a way to help keep young people in town, he suggests.

And he'd like to pursue the idea of a possible community center. It would be a facility to hold conventions, important meetings and possibly a boost to tourism.

“The water just keeps rising and we need an east end outlet,” says Mertens. “Pretty soon it'll be a state-wide problem. That lake is a mega attraction here, a big draw.”

Mertens is a 1974 graduate of Devils Lake High School, a '76 graduate of Lake Region State and a 1980 graduate of Valley City State.

He's been an instructor at Four Winds High School for the past 23 years.

He and his wife, Terri, are the parents of three children – Travis (22), Terra (21) and Tyler (17).