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Greg LaDouceur

Four candidates, three incumbents running for three vacant seats on Grand Forks Park Board

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The Grand Forks Park Board has four candidates and three incumbents running for three of its five seats.

Answering questionnaires submitted by the Herald, they said they wanted to support the Park District’s role in maintaining healthy living among all residents and provide top-notch facilities while keeping spending in check.

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Board members serve four-year terms and receive $3,000 annual salaries plus membership at Choice Health & Fitness and King’s Walk golf course. 

Greg LaDouceur (incumbent)

Address: 3649 21st Ave. S.

Age: 51.

Family: Wife Traci; children Jacob, 22, and Nicole, 19

Education: Master’s in kinesiology.

Occupation: Elementary physical education teacher; Realtor, Prudential Crary Real Estate.

Leadership experience: Vice president, Grand Forks Park Board; past president, Grand Forks Tennis Association.

Why are you running for Park Board again? I was involved with all aspects of Choice Health and Fitness. It is a great asset to the health and wellness of our community. There are still some other projects like Icon Sports Center, Scheels Sports Complex, and I would like to stay involved with the Park District master plan.

What are the top issues facing the Park District? Trying to keep up with the south-end growth and the development of parks in those areas. Continue to work with the city to provide 8 percent land dedication for the parks in the new subdivisions. Continue to maintain and upgrade existing parks throughout the whole Grand Forks community.

How would you address these issues? To work with the city on the 8 percent ordinance for the land and work within our current budget levy to provide financial resources to develop new areas and address our needs in our existing parks. Work with service clubs to provide secondary funding to help with the Park District’s needs.

What role do you see the Park District playing in encouraging healthy living in the community? Provide as many family activities as we can because I feel that healthy families make healthy communities. Providing children with activities will help with the obesity issue that our community and country is currently facing.

What improvements would you like to see at Park District facilities? Our facilities are currently in pretty good shape and we need to be able to maintain and upgrade them when possible.

Tim Skarperud (incumbent)

Address: 2619 S. 10th St.

Age: 36.

Family: Wife Stacey; children Carson, 9, Emma, 6.

Education: Bachelor’s degree in business administration with marketing focus, UND.

Occupation: Producer, Vaaler Insurance.

Leadership experience: Park commissioner; board member, North Dakota Golf Association.

Why are you running for Park Board? Having been born and raised here in Grand Forks, I was very fortunate to go through many of the programs that the Park District has to offer. I want to give back to the community that gave me so much and help to continue and build on the many great programs and services.

What are the top issues facing the Park District? With the growth of the Park District over the last few years, we need to make sure we are properly maintaining our facilities both financially and for the services that are offered.

How would you address these issues? Proper budgeting and staying ahead in services that are offered are vital to the success of Choice and other facilities. We must keep an eye on the budget while offering state-of-the-art programming. End users are the key at our facilities and we must continue to serve them in every way to ensure success.

What role do you see the Park District playing in encouraging healthy living in the community? The Park District plays a very important role in encouraging healthy living in our community. The Park District reaches all ages in the community and needs to continue to offer and expand programs that keep the youth, adults, and seniors active.

What improvements would you like to see at Park District facilities? I think the Park District has continually strived to stay ahead of the curve as far as facilities go. We need to make sure we maintain all of our current parks and facilities all while looking ahead at what we can do to make our community a better place to live.

Molly J. Soeby (incumbent)

Address: 718 Oak St.

Age: 55.

Family: Husband Mark, five children, two grandchildren.

Education: BS, medical technology, University of Mary, Bismarck; Master’s, public administration, Harvard University.

Occupation: Business owner, WelCore Health; Grand Forks County extension agent, NDSU Extension Service.

Leadership experience: Business owner; manager, Diabetes Center and Bariatric Centers, Altru Health System; leadership coordinator, Altru Education Department; chemistry teaching supervisor, UND; co-wrote and received $40,000 grant from the National Parks and Recreation Department; fellow, National Leadership Academy for the Public’s Health.

Why are you running for Park Board again? Park districts are being recognized as important preventive health and wellness community partners. Our mission is to provide the best parks, programs, facilities, forestry services and other services possible to promote a healthy and enjoyable lifestyle for all citizens of Grand Forks. My biggest focus is on health and wellness.

What are the top issues facing the Park District? We are beginning our first master plan since 1994. I believe we will set our compass for the future from the results of this plan. I know that 39 percent of our children are eligible for free or reduced school lunches. I want to be sure we are serving those children and parents.

How would you address these issues? I am meeting with many community partners including UND, Dakota Science Center, NDSU Extension Service, Scheels and others to plan outdoor trails with exercise equipment, expansion of children’s gardens and building interpretive kiosks along the trails for educational opportunities for our community. This could include the area around Ryan Lake.

What role do you see the Park District playing in encouraging healthy living in the community? As recipients of the NRPA(National Recreation and Parks Association) Achieve Healthier Communities grant, we are already working on healthy offerings at concession stands, tobacco-free parks, providing EBT machines at farmer’s markets, expanding children’s gardens and healthy restaurant recognition for having choices that include appropriate portion sizes, fat content and nutritionally dense offerings.

What improvements would you like to see at Park District facilities? I would like to see us get designation from NRPA as a “Step Up to Health … It Starts in Parks” community, which encourages park agencies to step up and take a leadership role in the fight against the nation’s health and obesity crisis by offering opportunities to move toward healthy lifestyles.

Tom Spicer

Address: 5110 Belmont Road.

Age: 39

Family: Wife Lisa; children Chase, 11, Farrah, 9, and Jacob, 6.

Education: High school graduate.

Occupation: Operations manager, Spicer Container and Salvage.

Leadership experience: Coaching, operations manager.

Why are you running for Park Board? My family and I have been afforded excellent opportunities and experiences through the Park District, and I would like to contribute back to the organization and the community.

What are the top issues facing the Park District? With public entities, the budget is always a major consideration. Choice Health and Fitness, the Icon arena and new baseball complex are great resources for the community but come with a cost. As we grow, we need to continue to maintain our current facilities and explore partnerships to expand our opportunities.

How would you address these issues? It is important to transparently monitor budgets, projections and contributions. It is also necessary for taxpayers and contributors to see and understand where their money is being spent. Efficiency and partnerships are key to maintaining, developing and expanding activities in our community while limiting the tax burden of residents.

What role do you see the Park District playing in encouraging healthy living in the community? Personal health is an individual’s responsibility. It is the responsibility of the Park District, however, to create an environment that encourages wellness. This responsibility includes offering a wide variety of fitness and community activities for all ages and activity levels, including seeking out new innovative opportunities that encourage healthy living.

What improvements would you like to see at Park District facilities? The Park District has a legacy of providing first-class facilities and opportunities. I believe the community needs to have clear lines of communication to the Park District regarding its wants and needs. Also, the Park District needs to continually seek outside dollars and revenue generating activities in maintaining its facilities. 

How to vote

Voting in North Dakota is as “easy as pie,” the secretary of state’s office says. Here’s what you need to know:

  •  When to vote: Election Day is June 10 and polls are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Early voting in Grand Forks County is today through Friday and the polling location at Grand Forks’ Alerus Center, 1200 S. 42nd St., is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
  •  Where to vote: To find polling locations for June 10, check the legal notices in the classified section in Tuesday’s Herald. Or enter your address into the secretary of state’s website listed below. The Alerus Center is the only polling location for early voting.

To vote by absentee ballot, see your county auditor or go to the secretary of state’s website.

  • Registration: Registration is not required but a state-issued or tribal government-issued identification card is. This includes driver’s licenses and identification certificates issued by North Dakota universities and by long-term care facilities. These are not the same as ID cards.
  • More info is on the secretary of state’s website at 1.usa.gov/1kP69dt.

Profiling the candidates

Over the next several days, the Herald will provide profiles of candidates in some local races.

  •  Tuesday, Grand Forks City Council candidates will be profiled.
  •  Wednesday, it’ll be Grand Forks County Commission candidates.
  •  Thursday, it’ll be local candidates for North Dakota Legislature.
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Jennifer Johnson
Jennifer Johnson is the K-12 education reporter for The Grand Forks Herald.  Contact her if you have any story ideas or tips and visit www.grandforksherald.com. 
(701) 787-6736
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