Isaac Afoakwa, a pastor of 27 years and founder of multiple churches and religious organizations, is one of two candidates challenging Bismarck Mayor Mike Seminary in the June election.
“My position as a pastor is to listen to people’s issues and to help them solve their problems,” Afoakwa said. “As mayor, the issues that people bring to the table .... I won’t go to sleep on them, I’ll make sure they are dealt with. I want to do everything I can to serve the residents of Bismarck.”
Afoakwa said God directed him to be a part of the race, and issues that are important to him include the need for additional infrastructure to match Bismarck’s growth, affordable and abundant child care for working families, zoning to allow for additional elementary schools and addressing homelessness.
“There’s work to be done in Bismarck and if, by the grace of God, I’m voted in, I’m going to make sure to get it all done,” he said.
Afoakwa said one addition he’d like to see to the city is Amtrak service.
“Minot is less populated and has Amtrak, Fargo is not the capital city and has Amtrak. Why not Bismarck?” he said.
When it comes to childcare for working families, Afoakwa said a five-month wait to get into a program is unacceptable. He said one of his top priorities will be securing affordable and abundant day care options.
Transitional housing for the homeless, as well as more affordable housing for low-income families, are issues that Afoakwa said he’d like to address as Bismarck mayor.
“From day one, I will be working to make sure these things get done,” he said.
A native of Ghana, Afoakwa founded Grace Action Chapel International with U.S. locations in Bismarck, Dickinson, Minot and Columbus, Ohio.
While living in Ohio, where he studied pastoral administration at Circleville Bible College, Afoakwa also founded Grace to Grace Church International and Youth in Action, which assists homeless individuals and families. He moved to Bismarck three years ago, previously living in Dickinson.
“All credit goes to God, who chose me and brought me up here (to North Dakota),” said Afoakwa, noting the church and the oil boom are what brought his family, including his wife and three daughters, to the state.
Steve Bakken, a business development and marketing consultant, will be the third name on the June 12 ballot for Bismarck mayor.