The Unpopular Bismarck Mayor Mike Seminary & His Bid for Re-election

Sept. 9, 2016 Rally Against The Pipeline /The Oceti Sakowin Run (Bismarck Mayor Mike Seminary – Right Front & Bismarck Chief of Police Dan Donlin – Right Rear). Photo by Prairie Rose Seminole.

Last week Bismarck Mayor Mike Seminary announced his intentions to seek re-election as the Mayor of North Dakota’s capital city. The move doesn’t really come as a surprise to those who have followed Seminary in the past. In fact, last April I wrote an article documenting the arrogance of Bismarck’s top city official .

Seminary seems to live in a dreamland of his own reality. Take this comment for example:

“We are consistently rated in national polls one of the best run cities in the country, one of the most livable, one of the safest.”

While Bismarck has rated #8 in at least two publications here and here for best run, it’s important to look at why– services. How much does that have to do with Seminary’s leadership? In short, pretty much nothing. But when considering “Total Budget Per Capita” – something Seminary is party to – Bismarck rates 40th out of 150. That’s not astoundingly impressive.

Just this summer it was reported that Bismarck’s debt sits at around $222 million . But, of course, people like Seminary view this as “healthy” debt. A claim that would be amusing if it weren’t for the fact that taxpayers have to bare the burden of such things.

One of the safest cities? I suppose in comparison to places like Chicago and New York this may be true. But just two years ago a report came out that Bismarck’s “violent crime rate grew by nearly 92.4%— from 206.6 cases per 100,000 people in 2009 to 397.6 in 2013″. And in 2016 the reported annual crime in Bismarck showed a 97% increase and said the following:

“…the overall crime rate [in Bismarck] is 44% higher than the average of crimes committed in North Dakota. It is also 29% higher than the national average. When it comes to violent crimes, Bismarck, ND shows a crime rate that is 15% higher than the North Dakota average. The crime rate is also 25% lower than the national average. When it comes to property crimes, Bismarck, ND is shown to be 47% higher than the North Dakota average and 38% higher than the national average.”

So, what is the answer to this question:

“Are people any safer living in the Bismarck, ND area in comparison to other North Dakota communities and all other cities throughout the United States?”

The answer is stunning:

“Bismarck, ND now ranks below average [for safer living] in comparison to all United States cities.”

In the release of 2017’s ”  100 Safest Cities in America  “, Bismarck didn’t even make the list.

But city debt and crime are just two issues when considering the claims of Mayor Seminary and his re-election bid. Let me take you through some other points that may be of interest to the good people of Bismarck.

Let’s begin with comments Seminary made to a group of Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) protesters in September of 2016. As the cities of Bismarck and Mandan were being tormented by lawless and inconsiderate protesters, Seminary stood among them and said:

“…on behalf of the City of Bismarck, I want to thank you for being here today. I personally stand in solidarity with you. You have chosen this day to be here to stand up for what is right.” (Emphasis Added)

Seminary later went on to defend his comments in an interview with KX News. He did his best to spin it as though he was simply defending their first amendment rights, but anybody that saw the video knew better.

The aftermath of the effort to recall Mike Seminary was particularly troubling. Not only was the city’s handling of the petitions highly suspect , but the stonewalling afterwards to avoid transparency was extremely problematic. Evidence even pointed to potential corruption. That issue is too lengthy to cover in this article, but you can read about the details here.

When you read the article detailing the aftermath of the recall, pay close attention to the part Bismarck Police Chief Dan Donlin played in it. It’s quite troubling. Especially when we consider that it was requested his officers who signed the recall petition be interviewed as part of the “investigation”. You will see why it was no surprise to me when I learned earlier today that Seminary and Donlin were going to be on the radio together this afternoon.

Then there was the Livability Summit that the Mayor attended back in March of this year. As part of that event, Seminary shared the results of a survey that was conducted to see what the people of Bismarck wanted for the city. The results were telling.

Respondents to the survey said they would like affordable housing. Yet, the Mayor and City Commission have been giving tax breaks to “renaissance” projects, while slapping residents with special assessments that price them out of their homes .

One of the top responses to the survey was the appreciation for good schools. Yet, according to Dustin Gawrylow of the North Dakota Watchdog Network, the Mayor has supported the diversion of $15 million from schools to downtown projects. I don’t imagine this is the kind of support for education that Bismarck residents are looking for.

Survey results also showed that 67% of those surveyed said they would like to see more “green space”, but the North Dakota Watchdog Network says the Mayor has supported the diversion of $2.9 million from the Park Board to downtown projects.

What is the message then? It is clear– while the Mayor and other city officials are socking schools and parks with funding cuts, they sure seem to be taking good care of their buddies needing help with downtown projects.

These are just some of the issues concerning Mike Seminary. There are others.

Given the fact that the equivalent of over 25% of voters in the last mayoral election signed a petition for his removal, I would think a dose of humility and willingness to at least understand those who oppose him would be in order. But no, it seems Seminary has just buckled down again and is going to portray himself as the Mayor that can do no wrong.

Mike Seminary enjoyed a run into office with no opponent in his last election. And while he said that he hopes for an opponent this time, he should be careful what he wishes for.

Come June of 2018, the citizens of Bismarck will finally have the opportunity to do what they were prevented from doing after the recall petitions were turned in… they’ll get to vote whether to keep Mike Seminary or send him packing– a choice made possible when his opponent finally announces.


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About T. Arthur Mason 883 Articles
T. Arthur Mason is a native North Dakotan who has spent nearly all of his life in the Peace Garden State. As the third of four children in Western North Dakota, Mason grew to appreciate family and the outdoors. Some of his fondest memories are annual deer hunts with family and friends. In his early teenage years, faith became a central part of T. Arthur Mason's life. He and the majority of his family attend church together on a weekly basis and find this a fulfilling aspect of their lives. Through the influence of his father, T. Arthur Mason became intrigued with politics. As a boy, he attended political events with his father and enjoyed the friendships that resulted as a byproduct of those political associations. As Mason grew older, he became convinced that the quote often attributed to Thomas Jefferson was true, "That government is best which governs least." Today, T. Arthur Mason enjoys time with his wife and children, an occasional hunt, and an increasingly active life on the political scene. This blog is the fulfillment of a dream to design a web site in the realm of politics and to advocate for the principles of Liberty and constitutionally limited government. On behalf of all those that contribute to The Minuteman, we hope you enjoy your time on the site and will share the message with others.