Meeting the city commission: a look at Dennis Rohr
By Dustin White,
Mandan News, editor
At his retirement in 2007, former Mandan police chief Dennis Rohr had attended more than 600 city commission meetings during his 22 years of service.
“I thought to myself that I never wanted to attend one of those again,” said Rohr.
It wouldn’t be long before he wound up right back in a commission meeting, but this time, as a commissioner.
“My wife and I had thought about going back to Kansas, where we grew up, but decided to make a go at this instead,” said Rohr.
Rohr had begun his career in law enforcement in Concordia, Kan. After 10 years, Rohr wanted to set out in another area. Before coming to Mandan, he would go even further south, to Dallas.
It was in Dallas, during a conference, that he happened to pick up a pamphlet advertising the chief of police position in Mandan.
“I had never heard of the city before, but I sent in an application anyway,” said Rohr. “That was in October, and I had forgotten about it.”
To his surprise, he received a call in January asking for an interview, and then got the job.
At the time, his youngest son was just graduating, so it was an ideal time to make the move.
Relocation was not a difficulty for Rohr and his wife Vesta.
“My hometown was about the same size of Mandan, and had a very similar demographic,” said Rohr. “It was almost like going back to my old home town.”
Having spent more than 20 years in their new home, Rohr wanted to continue to give back to the community; using the historical knowledge he had learned throughout the years.
“You can’t know where you are going if you don’t know where you come from,” Rohr said.
This background is something that has been appreciated by the others as well.
“Commissioner Rohr brings a lot of wisdom to the table,” said mayor Arlen Van Beek. “He is a very wise man.”
There has been a lot of new information to learn though. Rohr said that getting really familiar and understanding take times.
“The first four years are more of a learning experience, getting to know the issues and procedures at hand,” said Commissioner Sandra Tibke.
Rohr expects, if reelected, that the next four years will be more of an application of what he has learned.
“I think eight years is about the right time for a commissioner to fall in,” said Rohr.
For Rohr, the overall experience has been rewarding. During his time as commissioner, he said that it has been an easy commission to work with. Even with disagreements, the view has been quite balanced, and the members are willing to seek a compromise.
“No one plays buddy buddy,” said Rohr. “There is a good unification of thought, but each individual is there own person, and there isn’t teaming up to push one’s own agenda.”
The term has seemed to go quite quickly, Rohr has said. The most significant event for him has been the 2011 flood, and the aftermath.
“There were a lot of meetings and work to do,” said Rohr. “The citizens stepped up though and we got it done.”
During his term, Rohr’s portfolio has included engineering, water and sewer treatment, streets, forestry, waterline and sewerline maintenance, solid waste utility, street light utility and Mandan parking authority.
City Commissioner openings
Two seats, currently held by commissioners Dennis Rohr and Dot Frank, will be open this year.
Incumbent Rohr will be seeking reelection to the commission, while Dot Frank has decided not to run again.
For those looking to have their names placed on the ballot, the deadline is April 7, at 4 p.m. Candidates must file with the city administrator at City Hall.
Filing requirements include a petition containing signatures of qualified electors, not less than 10 percent of the number who voted for that office in the last city election. Three hundred signatures were recommended.