Meet the candidates forum held at LRSC

Louise Oleson Journal Managing Editor
A “Meet the candidates” forum was held Thursday at LRSC jointly sponsored by AAUW and BPW.

Just under 90 people braved the elements Thursday night to attend the “Meet the candidates” forum at LRSC sponsored by BPW and AAUW in Devils Lake.

One of the candidates each running for ND Leut. Governor, State Treasurer and PSC were present as were the six running for Ramsey County Commission.

Erika Kenner kicked off the event by going through three of the measures that North Dakotans will find on the ballot. She had researched each issue and presented what those in favor of each measure and those opposed to each measure had to say.

She provided web-based resources where individuals who want to know more about measures three, four and five can go to and find out more information.

Those sites are:

For measure 3:

Proponents:  ND Feeding Families (ND Farm Bureau) -

Opponents:  ND Farmers Union -

For measure 4:

Proponents: Smoke-Free North Dakota -

Opponents: can't find an organized website from the opponents

Strongly recommend to print off the full measure and read the entire verbiage instead of the synopsis on the ballot. For full measure, go to: (Secretary of State website)

For measure 5:

Proponents: North Dakotans for Stop Animal Cruelty -

Opponents:  ND Animal Stewards -

Then moderator Brenda Langerud called upon each of the three state candidates for a three-minute introduction to themselves and their platform.

Ellen Chaffee talked about candidate for governor Ryan Taylor, her running mate, and how ND is at a crossroads.

Ross Mushik, who is running for state treasurer, talked about his experience in the financial realm and reminded the audience to “hire the best person for the job.”

Brad Crabtree, candidate for PSC, talked about the work of the commission and his qualifications to head it.

Then specific prepared questions from the audience were directed to each of the three.

Chaffee was asked to address drilling in the oil patch, Mushik’s first question addressed property tax relief and Crabtree was asked about improving cell phone coverage in the state.

The second question for each dealt with the future of small schools in North Dakota, the long-term approach to investments and “Are you pro or con on coal?”

Each had three minutes to address the questions posed to them. A volunteer timer in the audience warned each speaker when they had one minute remaining and then when their time was up.

Then the attention turned to the six who are running for Ramsey County Commission and using the same format, each candidate was given three minutes to talk about themselves and why they were running.

Joe Belford, Bill Mertens, Myrna Heisler, Mark Olson, Randy Schemionek and Mark Shipley each took their turn. Then questions were posed one by one to each of them.

Shipley was asked to address the commission’s opposition to the East End Outlet, Schemionek was asked about economic development and tax abatements, Olson was asked if he thought being a commissioner was a full-time or part time job, Mertens was asked about rising ag land valuations. Heisler was asked about what insights she as a woman could bring to the commission, Belford was asked his opinion on televising commission meetings like other counties do.

A second round of questions addressed selling land in the county to the Game and Fish, health insurance and retirement benefits for commissioners, the needs of the youth of the county, social services, property taxes and then each candidate was asked to share one or two things they see as priorities for the county. They each had a minute to do that.

Belford started and talked about getting ag land back into production, stabilizing the lake and getting the county’s road system fixed and usable for all.

Heisler agreed with Belford that those things were essential. “I want us to do everything we can to see this county remain viable,” she said.

Mertens talked about how important a gravity flow outlet would be and getting compensation for those whose land is underwater.

Olson agreed with all those who had gone before him and emphasized how important the road system is to everyone, “All roads lead to Devils Lake, we need an adequate road system for our economy and to see the area grow,” he said.

Schemionek emphasized property tax relief and being pro-active rather than reactive, and using a common sense approach.

Shipley asked the residents of the county to let him know what they wanted, “I will be your voice at the meetings, let me know what is important to you,” he said.

Then Elizabeth Fischer talked about election day and where voting takes place - at the Memorial Building from 8 a.m. until 8 p.m. and encouraged those who vote by mail to get their ballots in on time.

She said 2,784 ballots were already mailed out and of those 1,228 have been received by her office. They must be post marked by Nov. 5 in order to be counted.