Devils Lake Mayoral Debate sets stage for election race to come

John B. Crane
Devils Lake Journal

DEVILS LAKE – Lake Region State's Robert Fawcett Auditorium didn't serve a play reenactment or awards ceremony Monday evening. 

Mayoral candidates for Devils Lake took to the stage to answer fielded questions from the moderator and audience at Lake Region State College on May 9.

Instead, the auditorium set the stage for a mayoral debate between Shane Hamre, Joe Mertens and Jim Moe on May 9. Hamre, Moe and Mertens are the three mayoral candidates in the upcoming mayoral election in June. 

All three Devils Lake mayoral candidates were fielded an assortment of questions, varying from economic development, recreational opportunities, education and healthcare. KVRR news anchor Adam Ladwig served as moderator for the debate. 

"There were a lot of similarities, [and] there were a few differences," Ladwig said after the debate. "They clearly are all passionate about the community, and they know what the big issues facing Devils Lake are, and the big question is how to tackle all [of] those issues." 

Questions from the audience and follow-up questions from Ladwig were also fielded, including questions about homelessness and funding. Each mayoral candidate was allotted three minutes to answer each question. 

Healthcare proved to be an argumentative topic as Moe and Mertens disagreed on correcting potential issues in the field. 

"I think they were most passionate about the issue of healthcare because it seems like there have been a lot of issues between the city and CHI over the past few years," Ladwig said. "So, I don't know specifically what those issues are, but yeah. That seemed to be the thing that brought out the most passion in the candidates, especially Joe Mertens." 

With elections fast approaching, Ladwig believes the public learned what questions and answers would remain critical talking points up until ballots are officially due. 

"I think they learned what issues are the most important to these men," Ladwig said. "In terms of solutions, a lot of the solutions are collaborative...They didn't really say, 'I know how to fix this right here, right now,' But I think voters will know what issues they will want to tackle and what they do they think will be the top priorities for the future of the city are." 

Municipal elections are held on the second Tuesday in June during each even-numbered year. The four-year term for the mayoral position lasts until a successor is duly elected or qualified. 

To access the live stream for the debate, access the Devils Lake Chamber of Commerce YouTube page. 

John Crane is a sports/general assignment reporter for the Devils Lake Journal. Feel free to contact John via work phone (701-922-1372), cell  phone (701-230-4339), email (jcrane@gannett.com) or Twitter (@johncranesports) with any story ideas.