Greg Zenker, a commercial manager for a local plumbing, heating and air company, has announced his candidacy for the Bismarck City Commission in a room filled with media representatives, family, friends, colleagues and other developers and homebuilders.

Zenker said his top three priorities if he were elected would be to reduce barriers between the city and developers and homebuilders, work more with local boards and county commissions and be "responsible with taxpayer money."

The father of four and Bismarck native said he's been planning to run since November.

"It's been a bucket list thing for a while," Zenker said.

He contended that the city commission has been "difficult to deal with" recently. As a board member of the Bismarck-Mandan Homebuilders Association, Zenker said he would like to see more collaboration with the city and the homebuilding industry.

"(The homebuilders) reach out to them and ask them, 'Hey, can we come to the city commission and give you an update on progress that's happened in the city?' and we've been denied," Zenker said.

The industry employs a lot of people in Bismarck-Mandan area, and these companies are crucial to a vibrant and growing community, according to Zenker.

"So, why are we not at the table?" Zenker said.

He also spoke about the city commission raising "certain fees arbitrarily," mentioning new city fees that would charge for utilities on empty lots in Bismarck. The association has said these cost increases make lots harder to sell. Homebuilders, in the past, have also indicate they would like to participate in more discussions with the city commission.

Zenker said he also wants to "protect (Bismarck's) taxpayers."

"You'll hear me say this all the time ... during my campaign, we need to be responsible for taxpayer money," he said.

Jim Poolman, former state insurance commissioner and vice chairman of the North Dakota Republican Party, has endorsed Zenker.

"He is a strong leader in our community, a great volunteer in our community and has all sorts of experience that he wants to put to use for the city of Bismarck," Poolman said Wednesday.

Zenker has worked in the construction industry for 27 years, currently working for Northern Plains Plumbing, Heating and Air. He also serves as a board member for the North Dakota Association of Builders and the North Dakota Association of Plumbing, Heating and Cooling Contractors.

Public service runs in the Zenker family, as Zenker's late father, Greg Zenker, served as mayor of Turtle Lake, and his mother, Diane Zenker, is currently on the Turtle Lake City Commission.

(Reach Blair Emerson at 701-250-8251 or Blair.Emerson@bismarcktribune.com)

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