Q&A with Jack Volk, who is running for city commissioner of Devils Lake

K. William Boyer and John B. Crane
Devils Lake Daily Journal

DEVILS LAKE - You should all know his face, you all know his name. He is Jack Volk, (or on the ballot it will be Jacob Jack Volk) and he is seeking your vote for Devils Lake City Commissioner.

He grew up on a farm just east of Southam and went to Lakota School District,  joining the Army National Guard after graduating in 1970.  

He spent 34 years of service as a Put1, then Buck Sgt E-5 serving as squad leader to E-6 Section Sgt E-7 PIt Sgt E-8 MSG.

"In 2003, our Unit was activated during the War on Terrorism," he said. "We were to go to Iraq until the morning of Easter Monday, we were then told to stand down. We spent the year at Fort Riley, Kansas."

Vollk worked for Montana-Dakota Utilities in Devils Lake, starting out as their operator before being promoted to  Construction Foreman holding that position for 25 years. 

 Volk was elected to city commissioner four years ago.

"My portfolios were street department, cemetery, and Shade Tree," he said. "The first month, the cemetery supervisor called and invited me out to see the equipment they used to dig and fill graves. The backhoe had chained to the truck, so it did not fall into the ditch. A homemade trailer was against the backhoe, so it did not tip over when they swung it over to dump the bucket. The truck had no brakes. I ask him why do you use this junk equipment. He was told it was good enough for me, so it is good enough for you. The next year we ordered a brand new mini-backhoe, a new trailer [and] a different truck that had brakes. The street department’s equipment was old and wore out they spent more time getting fixed than working. The street supervisor has done an outstanding job researching used equipment at as good a deal as he could. We have replaced most of our trucks. We lease a John Deere tractor that we bought a blower for which they use most of the time instead of our big blower. We bought two Toolcats with blowers that we use to blow snow away from the curbs in our new downtown area, so the bigger equipment does not damage our new curbs. Our big loader and road grader were both old [and] needing to be replaced, so we leased new ones. The street department is set up with good equipment to use also. As far as the Shade Tree, we have not been able to hire part-time employees, so we hire contractors to trim the trees along the streets and boulevards." 

Elections for this office will be on June 14.

More:Q&A with Rob Hach, who is running for city commissioner of Devils Lake

More:Q&A with Jason Pierce, who is running for city commissioner of Devils Lake

City Commission candidate Jack Volk.

Why did you decide to run for office?

The main reason was there were two spots open. My commission with Rob Hach and the time fill that he had petitioned to run, so…I got my petition and decided to go ahead and re-run. For another reason, I have accomplished a lot of things with the street department, cemetery and Shade Tree.

What will be your main goal you wish to accomplish as city commissioner?

What I would really like to accomplish is get some way to get more businesses into the city of Devils Lake instead of losing business. I can see us trying to get more business. I know I have been working with Brad Barth for economic development out here trying to figure out new business we can bring into the city. Another thing I’d like to get straightened out is our law enforcement center.

No. 1 thing is try to get decent healthcare into our city, so a lot of people don’t have to continually go up and down the road to Grand Forks, Minot, Fargo, whatever. So, that would be one of the major things I’d like to work on.

We have a couple of different places that are looking at coming into Devils Lake to bring healthcare in. CHI [St. Alexius Health Devils Lake Hospital] here right now…there are no doctors to speak of. If somebody breaks an arm or a leg or whatever, they have to run to Grand Forks. They can’t even put a cast on here, so we definitely need a different healthcare system. I can’t really talk about the two that are coming in here, but I know there are a couple extra that are looking at coming into to take over the healthcare as far as hospitalization.

How will your experience working/living in the community prepare you for this potential role?

Like I said, good leadership. I have spent 34 years in the [U.S.) Army and the Army National Guard. A lot of leadership. I went to a lot of schools for leadership. I worked for Montana-Dakota Utilities for 34 years. I was a construction foreman. Then, I went up into Grafton as a service supervisor. Had seven people under me in five towns, so I have a lot of experience in leadership.

What is your overall campaign message to voters?

I guess the main thing is look into my portfolio what I’ve accomplished from the day I started until now, the equipment that we’ve got between the street department, cemetery and Shade Tree. When I first took over, they called me out to the cemetery showing me the stuff they were using, and it was really unsafe. No employees should have to use equipment like that. So, we got new equipment out at the cemetery. Street department, all of the equipment was old. Our trucks were breaking down all the time. We got some new equipment out there. Leroy Shereck, who is head of the street department out there, has done a wonderful job researching [and] buying good used trucks for us.

What is one word that describes you?

One word would be honesty. I’m an honest person. What I say I do to the best of my ability to follow through on it and make sure it gets completed so the people can rely on me. If they call me, I follow up on everything and make sure it gets completed. I would say being an honest person and a veteran is probably No. 1.

John Crane is a sports/general assignment reporter for the Devils Lake Daily Journal. Feel free to contact John at jcrane@gannett.com or Twitter (@johncranesports) with any story ideas. K. William Boyer is Managing Editor of the Devils Lake Daily Journal, you may reach him at kboyer@gannett.com or at 701-662-2127 or 850-261-7476 with questions or concerns.