With new leadership, 2022 was ‘inflection point’ for Devils Lake
The year brought a new mayor, city administrator, city commissioner and other employees to Devils Lake.
DEVILS LAKE – For Devils Lake, 2022 was a year of change in city leadership as a new city administrator started work, a longtime mayor retired, a new City Commission member was elected and other city employees were hired.
“It feels like there’s an inflection point,” said Spencer Halvorson, city administrator. “This is a community that has shown an interest in investing in the future.”
Halvorson accepted the position of city administrator at the end of January 2022, as City Administrator Terry Johnston retired. In June, Dick Johnson retired after 12 years as mayor and 20 years on the City Commission before that. Retired Fire Chief Jim Moe was elected as the new mayor, and Jason Pierce was elected as a new member of the commission. The city also has recently hired a new city assessor, deputy auditor and city attorney.
Despite all the new faces, Halvorson says the transition has gone smoothly, thanks to the attitudes of new city leaders and the guidance of previous city leaders and current longstanding city employees.
“I think we’ve been really blessed that the people who come here bring a positive attitude every single day, and I think that the people who came before us have been very gracious with being a resource for us when we have questions about why things are the way they are,” said Halvorson.
Moe, who was a member of the Devils Lake Volunteer Fire Department for more than 40 years, said his previous experience in the city has been beneficial in his new position as mayor.
“I have a really good understanding of how the city works,” he said.
In his first six months as mayor, Moe says the city has made progress on a number of fronts, such as the funding of an indoor activity center with a sales tax increase and a collaboration with the Spirit Lake Nation, Altru Health System and Essentia Health for a new health care campus.
“There are a lot of things in the works. Nothing totally accomplished yet, but there are a lot of positive things,” he said.
Within the Devils Lake City Commission, 2022 also brought greater transparency to commission meetings, said Halvorson. In 2022, the commission began broadcasting meetings on YouTube. Also, a public comment period was added to the meetings.
“We’ve been able to continue to build on the foundation and the framework from those leaders here prior to us, and I think we’ve done a good job of answering to the cue of our City Commission leadership,” said Halvorson.
With the work being done in Devils Lake, Halvorson says current leaders in the city, school district and other areas of the community have the ability to impact the community far into the future. Halvorson named the passing of a quarter-cent sales tax for park district infrastructure, the health care collaboration and ongoing discussions about the needs of Devils Lake Public Schools as work being done now that will have a long-term effect.
“We have an incredible opportunity, with really good execution, to make a disproportionate impact on the next 30 years for this community,” said Halvorson.