A retired professional and UND hockey player plans to challenge longtime mayor Mike Brown this June.
Brandon Bochenski, who played right wing for UND, is scheduled to host a campaign kickoff party at 5 p.m. Friday, Jan. 31, at Rhombus Guys Brewery in downtown Grand Forks.
“It’s been 20 years now under Mayor Brown,” Bochenski, 37, told the Herald Friday. “I’ve got nothing but respect for what he’s done, but I just think it’s time to inject new life and new energy and new ideas. I think we’re just kind of stagnant and need to get some new energy and some growth going back in Grand Forks.”
Bochenski said city leaders have been “standoffish” with businesses, and that Grand Forks needs to be an easier place for firms to come to town or get going in the first place, which at least partly means courting them with tax incentives.
“It’s going out and talking to people, trying to bring businesses in,” he said. “If it’s tax incentives that we need to use, I’m all for that.”
He played at UND from 2001-2004, and bounced between the American Hockey League and National Hockey League before settling in to a seven-season stint with Barys Nur-Sultan in the Kontinental Hockey League.
Bochenski has already made a headline or two since he moved back to Grand Forks in late 2017. He pushed back against a planned apartment complex near his new home on Kings View Drive and, according to Grand Forks County property records, bought the 19-acre piece of land for $1.8 million. It’s now slated for single-family homes.
He has a part-time job as a real estate agent for Berkshire Hathaway. Bochenski registered KHL Investments, a development company named after the league in which he played, and Barys LLC, a construction company named after his former team, in the summer of 2019.
He’ll be campaigning against Brown, who said earlier this month he intends to run for an unprecedented sixth term as Grand Forks’ mayor.
Whoever ends up in the mayor’s seat likely will have to figure out how to get more housing -- particularly affordable housing -- built, how to grow the city’s workforce, and what to do about the city’s flagging retail sector, among other concerns.
Grand Forks’ mayor and City Council elections are scheduled for June 9.
The filing period for Grand Forks’ mayoral race began Jan. 1. Candidates need to collect 300 legible and verifiable signatures, and fill out some paperwork at city hall.
The filing period ends at 4 p.m. on April 6.