When you are in a position of leadership in a city government, you typically don’t get to leave your job behind at the end of the day – because your home is your work and your work is your home. While we should all make the effort to thank the thousands of civil servants who keep our sidewalks and roads clean and safe, our water running, and communities growing and thriving, the North Dakota League of Cities selects two individuals each year who deserve extra appreciation and gratitude.
This year, Wahpeton (and Abercrombie, Christine, Davenport, Dwight, Fairmount, Great Bend, Hankinson, Lidgerwood, Mantador, Mooreton, Walcott, and Wyndmere) City Attorney Steve Lies was named the Outstanding City Appointed Official, and Williston City Commissioner Brad Bekkedahl was awarded Outstanding City Elected Official.
Thank you to the great staff at the League of Cities for the following in-depth look at Steve and Brad’s service to Wahpeton, Williston, and North Dakota:
STEVE LIES, WAHPETON CITY ATTORNEY, OUTSTANDING CITY OFFICIAL
Steve served as Wahpeton Assistant City Attorney from 1979-1984 and was appointed as City Attorney in 1984, a position he still holds. He is noted as an “enduring institution of knowledge” for his legal advice and political strategy analysis.
Steve not only uses his legal background to serve in the jurisprudence arena but has used his legal expertise to resolve issues with the EPA, FEMA and the Army Corps of Engineers, saving cities hundreds of thousands of dollars and providing substantial economic development for all the cities he serves. Some examples of his work include:
- securing a Housing and Urban Development Small Cities Grant that funded repairs on improvements on over 100 homes in Wahpeton;
- serving as attorney for the Home Rule Charter Commission and the implementation of a local sales tax that has funded over $30 million in local economic development, infrastructure, recreations and flood mitigation;
- negotiating with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for an additional $5 million in federal funding for water resources;
- writing a lease and purchase agreement which netted the Community Development Corporation over $2.5 million in profits on the sale of a building vacated by a Fortune 500 company; and
- creating numerous special assessment districts for infrastructure construction and repair that qualified for over $30 million in bank qualified municipal bonds for small cities.
As an attorney for many surrounding cities, Steve has written ordinances to streamline budget processes, purchasing rules, and even how businesses providing goods and services to North Dakota cities are paid. He has helped cities move from municipal to rural water and shepherded ordinances for special elections adopting local sales tax and lodging taxes. The cities of Wahpeton, ND and Breckenridge, MN enjoy the only golf course in North Dakota located in two states because of his legislative amendment.
Steve has received recognition by the Southeast Judicial Bar Association for contributions to community service such as North Dakota Catholic Charities, Kiwanis Club, St, Catherine’s Living Center, St. Francis Medical Center, Wahpeton Chamber of Commerce, Elks’ Club, President of North Dakota City Attorneys Association, North Dakota Deputy Secretary of State and Richland County Bar Association President.
In addition to his position as city attorney for Wahpeton, he also serves as city attorney for Abercrombie, Christine, Davenport, Dwight, Fairmount, Great Bend, Hankinson, Lidgerwood, Mantador, Mooreton, Walcott and Wyndmere.
Photo L to R: Blake Crosby, NDLC Executive Director; Dan Stenvold, NLDC President; Steve Lies, Patty Lies, Katie Andersen, NDLC Past President
BRAD BEKKEDAHL, WILLISTON CITY COMMISSIONER, OUTSTANDING CITY ELECTED OFFICIAL
Brad’s nomination form began with the following statements: “Brad is the epitome of a civil servant. He has guided his city through economic prosperities and hardships, infrastructure buildouts and declines, and dramatic population swings with all that brings to the job of city government. Leadership and work ethics are the values he exhibits.”
In his announcement that the Outstanding City Appointed Official award was being presented to Brad, NDLC Executive Director Blake Crosby outlined a few of his many accomplishments that support these statements in his nomination:
Brad joined the United States Army Reserves in 1984, enlisted in the North Dakota Army National Guard in 2002 and served a tour in Iraq at Camp Adder in Tallil, Iraq. He has received many awards and commendations for his military service such as the Global War on Terrorism Medal, North Dakota National Guard Commendation Medal, Army Achievement Medal and Meritorious Service Medal. He still is a member of the Guard and puts in his one weekend per month and two weeks each summer…another indication of his selfless service.
In the city of Williston, Brad has served on the Park Board, as city Finance Commissioner from 1996 to present (22 years), represented District 1 in the North Dakota Senate since 2015 and has been a dentist for more than 30 years.
As a North Dakota Senator, Brad has worked tirelessly to champion the needs of cities. His experience on the Williston City Commission brings invaluable expertise and knowledge to his position on the Senate Political Subdivisions standing committee. His colleagues on that committee frequently look to him to guide their decisions and Brad is always looking out for the best interest of all North Dakota cities.
Brad actively and generously supports a variety of hometown organizations including Gloria Dei Lutheran Church, Boy Scouts, Amateur Hockey, a number of resource conservation and economic development councils, Theodore Roosevelt Expressway, NDDOT Strategic Statewide Transportation Forum and the North Dakota oil and gas producing counties.
Photo L to R: Tate Cymbaluk, Williston City Commissioner and NDLC Executive Board Member; Howard Klug, Williston Mayor; Brad Bekkedahl; David Tuan, Williston City Administrator Photo Credit: Andrea Duntz
Thank you, Steve, Brad, and all of the amazing city staff across North Dakota!