ND Primary: Older Residents Can Have Their Say on Local Issues

Mike Moen
Special to Devils Lake Daily Journal

Mike Moen

When North Dakotans cast their primary ballots, it is not just for state and federal contests. Local offices are up for grabs, and civic groups say the positions directly impact people's lives.

The June 14 primary will pick nominees for legislative seats, as well as the U.S. Senate, and locally, voters will decide the outright winners for municipal seats. There are a record number of candidates for Fargo mayor and city commission.

Whitney Oxendahl, Vote 411 coordinator for the League of Women Voters of North Dakota, said it is not surprising to see a lot of people motivated to run.

"There's been a lot of things that have happened in the past few years, with the pandemic, with diversity, equity, and inclusion," Oxendahl observed. "And so, you have a lot of people coming out to stand on different platforms."

She noted local candidates are often more accessible to engaged voters.

Fargo is again using approval voting, which allows people to choose as many candidates as they want. Meanwhile, June 13 is the deadline for submitting absentee ballots in North Dakota.

Janelle Moos, advocacy director for AARP North Dakota, said local elections are a way for older residents to feel like their voice is heard on key decisions before their community. She emphasized it is especially important in cities with an aging population.

"How can candidates make their streets and their neighborhoods more safe, including bike-friendly, walk friendly?" Moos asked. "How can they encourage and find ways to keep residents in their communities, and in their homes longer?"

Elections often turn on economics and demographics. New AARP research found half of women voters age 50 and older said the economy is not working well for them.

Erika White, auditor for Burleigh County, said in addition to studying local candidates, voters should find out if their legislative district changed based on new census data.

"Ten years is a long time and that's how long people reside in a certain legislative district," White pointed out. "Seeing which district you reside in and see if you're voting on any legislative candidate is always a great thing to look into."

The League of Women Voters and AARP have voter guides posted on their websites.

Mike Moen is a guest writer who writes topics about the state.  He is a writer for North Dakota News Services.