BISMARCK, N.D. (KXNET)— “There are going to be times you feel you made the wrong choice. But once you’ve made the choice, be dedicated to it and push through those difficult times,” Bismarck Mayor Mike Schmitz said.

Schmitz said he knows about making choices and staying dedicated. When he was 10 years old, his family moved from Fargo to Bismarck. He dedicated a lot of time to building relationships with the neighborhood kids.

“We’d always gather and play baseball. There was kind of a little, primitive baseball diamond and then, obviously, we got together with the neighbors and played a lot of board games,” Schmitz said.

Schmitz wouldn’t go onto the pros in baseball or board games and, though he worked at a grocery store until his junior year at the University of Mary, that wouldn’t turn out to be his career path either. “I knew when I entered college I was going to use accounting, because I kind of got a taste of it in high school, a little accounting course in high school as an elective. That was 38 years ago and I’m still here,” Schmitz said.

Since then, he got married, raised children, and continues to have a successful accounting career. After years of volunteering for numerous organizations, Schmitz decided to run for the Office of the Mayor of Bismarck.
When Schmitz found out he won against incumbent Mayor Steve Bakken in June of 2022, he said he was surprised. “I didn’t have name recognition. He had name recognition, more than I did and he had been in office for years. You know, being an incumbent is not always easy,” Schmitz said.

As to what his plans are as mayor, Schmitz said he wants to focus on transparency, namely helping citizens better understand how and on what their taxes are being spent. “What is the city actually billing you? What are we providing? What’s our share of that? What’s the school’s share of that? And try to build a cooperation amongst all those entities; hopefully, we can get some of that messaging out that way,” Schmitz said.

Schmitz said another key to his success is being surrounded by people you can lean on. He says with them, he’s able to push through the difficult times. And for that, he’s grateful.