Two more candidates announced plans last week to run for Mandan City Commission.

They are Amber Larson, co-owner of Larson’s Tattooing and senior marketing manager with Bartlett & West, and Ashley Kelsch, the public information officer for the North Dakota Insurance Department.

Two commission seats are open in the June 12 election, and Commissioners Shauna Laber and Dennis Rohr are both seeking re-election to their seats.

“We have some important issues facing Mandan, and voters deserve a choice of where our future is headed,” Larson said in her announcement Feb. 1, noting it’s a pivotal time for the city to reinvigorate itself.

She says revitalization is possible through the redevelopment of city-owned properties such as the former Central Market and Thrifty White Drug buildings.

“There are ways to leverage these properties to attract businesses and amenities, which would serve our residents while adding to our sales tax base rather than increasing property taxes,” said Larson, a graduate of the Bismarck Women’s Leadership Program.

Infrastructure planning is also needed, as Mandan further develops to the north and south, according to Larson, who participates in the Bismarck-Mandan Chamber of Commerce Leadership Bismarck-Mandan program and volunteers for several health and human services groups.

Larson, who holds a bachelor’s degree in mass communications from Minnesota State University Moorhead and a master’s degree in strategic leadership from the University of Mary, has experience in media, utilities, health care, engineering, strategic planning, budget and staff planning and management, marketing, communications and entrepreneurship.

For 11 years, Larson and her husband, Jon, have called Mandan home. They have one daughter.

Kelsch, who announced her candidacy Feb. 2, held past communications roles with Ruth Meiers Hospitality House and the Governor's Office under Jack Dalrymple and Doug Burgum.

"Where I see my strengths lying is really in getting things done and seeing these ideas through to the end and making sure they're a success," said Kelsch, pointing to such avenues as encouraging development and vibrancy in Mandan.

"The city of Mandan should be providing the best of basic services to all its citizens," she said. "That means water, roads, other infrastructure and also safety."

Included in that is support of law enforcement, not only "metaphorically and emotionally but financially as well, according to Kelsch, who also highlighted city commission collaboration with the Mandan school and park boards.

"I think that it's important that the city commission works together with these types of agencies to make sure we're touting the success of our community as well as expressing the needs of our community," she said of political roles stretching from Mandan to the Legislature to the governor's office.

Kelsch holds a bachelor's degree in English from the University of North Dakota and a master's in creative writing from Minnesota State University-Mankato.

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