- Associated Press - Tuesday, October 13, 2015

DICKINSON, N.D. (AP) - Dickinson’s longtime mayor is calling it quits so he can stay on the board of directors of MDU Resources Group Inc.

Dennis Johnson is stepping down as City Commission president at the end of the month after 15 years of service. The level of business that MDU Resources is doing with the oil patch city is such that he can no longer be considered an independent director, so he needs to quit the city post to keep his position on the board, he told KXMB-TV (https://bit.ly/1PpNtjO ).

Bismarck-based MDU Resources Group provides products and services for the energy, construction and transportation industries. It has more than 70 companies and more than 8,400 employees in 48 states, and is traded on the New York Stock Exchange.

Johnson said he has seen a dramatic swing in city priorities since he took office in 2000, with the western oil boom of recent years.

“We were more concerned with outmigration and aging populations and, ‘how will we grow our community?’” he said. “And, a few year later of course, that changed to not worrying about how you would grow a community, but how do you cope with rapid growth within that community?”

Dickinson’s population grew from about 17,900 in 2010 to an estimated 22,300 in 2014, a jump of nearly 25 percent, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. It is one of the nation’s fastest-growing micropolitan areas, or areas with between 10,000 and 50,000 people.

“I think one of the major challenges of course has been dealing with the oil boom, the rapid population growth that comes with that, trying to maintain quality of place and trying to still provide all the city services that the city is obligated to provide,” Johnson said.

Dickinson had an advantage over Williston, another oil patch hub to the north, where the oil boom began in the Bakken shale formation.

“We had an opportunity to observe and learn about the Bakken and prepare for it,” Johnson said.

City Administrator Shawn Kessel said Johnson’s leadership will be missed.

“He’s very visionary,” Kessel said. “The two things that I think most people will say is he’s got a great sense of vision for where the city should be in five years or 10 years and he’s a financial whiz.”

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Information from: KXMB-TV, https://www.kxnet.com


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