Challenger Mark Armstrong and incumbents Jim Peluso and Kathleen Jones were elected Tuesday to serve on the Burleigh County Commission.
According to unofficial results, Armstrong was the top vote-getter with 21.65 percent of the votes, while Peluso and Jones secured 19.52 and 18.17 percent of the votes, respectively.
Challengers Steve Schwab, Dennis Agnew and Leo Vetter faced defeat as the three lowest vote-getters, with 14.88, 13.58 and 11.87 percent of the votes, respectively.
Commissioner Doug Schonert, whose term expires in December, did not seek re-election.
Armstrong, of Bismarck, who works as a communications liaison for Workforce Safety & Insurance, served two terms on the commission from 2006 to 2014, at which time he decided not to seek re-election. After being approached by a number of “unhappy” citizens, Armstrong said he decided to run again.
“They (citizens) want a level playing field, they want tax fairness and, most importantly, they want to explore ways to consolidate local government services so we spend less and still receive the services we expect to be provided by local government,” he said.
Armstrong said he's confident the county can achieve lower property taxes in the next five years if a plan of government consolidation is followed.
Peluso, of Bismarck, who is retired from the Bismarck Park District, said he will continue to present a responsible budget and keep taxes in check.
“If you look at the history of our portion of the total tax, it will bear out the fact that we have been very responsible,” he said. “I take our budgeting process very serious and always keep in mind that it’s not our money we are spending.”
The commissioner said he feels his 12 years holding the law enforcement portfolio will make him an asset to the county as it transitions to a new sheriff.
Items on Peluso’s agenda include taking a “serious” look at implementing a county administrator position, as well as an appointed, rather than elected, auditor.
Jones, of Bismarck, who previously worked as a stockbroker, as well as owned and operated a family implement dealership, said she will continue to oppose tax increases.
“I will continue to reorganize the many portfolios, for which I have been given responsibility, to become even more effective and pennywise,” she said. “I will continue to work to grow the county’s economy by supporting best business practice plans.”
In addition to cheerleading for the completion of the Missouri Valley Complex, Jones said she will work to amend the county's Home Rule Charter to allow more input from citizens, with whom she intends to continue having "robust, creative conversations."