Commentary: North Dakota’s Governor Election is in June

Update: When I first published this article, the content was hidden behind a silly survey that served no purpose. That was a dumb idea. I have removed the dumb idea, and published the commentary below. And watch for the column ‘On the Record’ next week, when our Governor candidates talk about their first priorities if elected.

With the Democratic-NPL party in a rebuilding phase, it looks like the election for North Dakota’s Governor will take place this June. And if you want to help choose our top executive, you’ll have to vote the Republican side of the ticket at the primary election.

Long story short, Democrat crossover voters will inevitably help choose the Republican nominee, and whoever that is will win the election in November — because the Democrat’s candidate will be a non-factor. It’s a reality that likely leaves Republican faithfuls a little riled because the convention and primary system won’t work as it has in the past. But at least the state will get an election. And that’s good thing.

North Dakota is in the process of transition. The wild growth of the past few years is over and tough decisions will need to be made. We will have to adjust to whatever becomes the new normal. Leading the state through that period will be difficult, so it’s important our next Governor take office with a clear mandate of the people. Mandates are delivered through elections, and if we have to have ours in June, so be it.

So, because the election clock moved up, we’ll be doing what we can on The Minot Voice over the next 4 months to make sure you’ve had a chance to get to know the candidates. Each Thursday we’ll publish a question and send it to the candidates, the following Thursday we’ll publish their answers and ask a new question.

On The Record

Check out the tabs below to get a feel for the concept and get the introductory information on each candidate.

Each Thursday we’ll ask a question of our Governor candidates, the following Thursday we’ll publish their answer and ask a new question. Candidates are free to provide a written answer, a Youtube video, or a Soundcloud audio clip.

This week’s question:

If we copied and pasted the ‘about me’ content from your website, what would we read? (This week is just to show you the concept)

Next week’s question:

If elected Governor, what’s your first priority?

Note: if and when we do get a Democratic candidate, they’ll be given the opportunity to answer as well.

Meet Rick Becker

Rick Becker was born in Mandan, North Dakota. He attended the University of North Dakota for both his undergraduate and Doctor of Medicine degrees. Pursuing the field of plastic surgery he continued in a general surgery residency through the University of North Dakota, followed by a plastic surgery residency in Detroit, Michigan. Largely due to the research he conducted regarding the availability of breast reconstruction for North Dakota cancer patients, he sought specialization in breast reconstruction and microvascular surgery in Little Rock, Arkansas. With a desire to raise his four children in a more ideal environment, Dr. Becker returned to Bismarck and established a private plastic surgery practice.

Dr. Becker’s interests include hunting, fishing, Scuba, and travel. Likely his most serious hobby is entrepreneurship. He has been involved in several businesses beginning with his own Becker Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery. That was followed with his opening of the first Medi-spa in North Dakota in 2000. As his interest in business and desire to enhance the community increased, he began to develop commercial real estate. This began with Athena Properties in 2001, HST in 2006, and Gulch holdings in 2011. Most recently, he has developed a multi-venue bar and restaurant complex in Bismarck.

Since returning to Bismarck, Dr Becker has developed a keen interest in political philosophy. This led him to a position on the Bismarck Planning and Zoning Commission, and later to run for state legislature. He became a Representative for District 7 in 2012, and won re-election to his second term in 2014.

While in the legislature, Representative Becker has been a strong and consistent advocate for conservative principles. In his first term he founded the Bastiat Caucus, a gathering of legislators who believe in the ideal of limited government and free markets. In his second session he was identified as the most conservative/libertarian legislator in the state.

Learn more about Mr. Becker on his campaign website


Meet Doug Burgum

Doug Burgum, an entrepreneur and philanthropist who has been recognized globally for his visionary business leadership, credits his success to the values and ethics instilled in his early years by his family and community. Others cite his deep commitment to improving both the personal and business lives of people worldwide as the distinguishing attribute of his leadership.

A native of Arthur, North Dakota, Doug earned a bachelor of university studies degree from North Dakota State University (NDSU) and went on to achieve an MBA from the Stanford Graduate School of Business. After building national experience as a consultant at McKinsey & Company, he returned to North Dakota in 1983.

Firmly rooted with gratitude and perseverance, Burgum literally “bet the family farm” for the seed capital for Great Plains Software, then a very small startup company in the fledgling computer software industry. Driven by a strong belief in North Dakota’s people and a powerful dream, as chairman and CEO he led the company’s growth to a very successful initial public offering in 1997. He steered Great Plains through its strategic acquisition by Microsoft Corporation in 2001 for $1.1 billion. He remained at Microsoft as senior vice president through 2007, helping the company capture a leading position in the business applications software industry.

As a testimony to his people-centric philosophy, Great Plains was named to FORTUNE magazine’s list of “100 Best Companies to Work for in America” four times, a distinction also held by Microsoft during Doug’s tenure there.

In 2006, Doug reaffirmed his passion for North Dakota by founding Kilbourne Group, a company committed to creating smart, healthy cities through vibrant downtowns. He led the renovation of downtown Fargo’s landmark Northern School Supply building in 2000, which ultimately led to NDSU creating its downtown Fargo campus. Kilbourne Group respects and honors the history and heritage of its community by reinvigorating the economic viability and livability of downtown Fargo.

In 2008, Doug co-founded Arthur Ventures, a venture capital firm that invests in ambitious, mission-driven software companies. He serves as chairman of the board and investor of Atlassian and Avalara, and as executive chairman of the North Dakota healthcare technology startup Intelligent InSites, the leader in real-time operational intelligence software for healthcare.

In 2009, Doug was awarded the Theodore Roosevelt Rough Rider Award, North Dakota’s highest honor, by then-Governor John Hoeven. The award recognizes North Dakotans who have been influenced by North Dakota in achieving national recognition in their fields of endeavor.

The success of businesses and people guided by Doug’s leadership has been a catalyst for the establishment and growth of numerous spin-off and startup companies in Fargo and across North Dakota, especially in the technology and software sectors.

With deep gratitude for the communities and people that inspire his success, Doug contributes to numerous philanthropic efforts and has established the Doug Burgum Family Fund, which focuses its charitable giving on youth and education while honoring the multi-generational commitment to these causes started and continued by his great-grandparents, grandparents, and parents.

Doug maintains his commitment and connection to his small town and agricultural roots through family farm partnerships, by serving as a board member for Arthur Companies, Inc., a diversified agribusiness company founded by his grandparents in 1906, and through a ranching partnership in the Badlands of western North Dakota.

Learn more about Mr. Burgum on his campaign website.


Meet Wayne Stenehjem

Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem was born in Mohall, North Dakota and grew up in Williston. He graduated from the University of North Dakota and received his law degree from the UND School of Law in 1977. He is married to Beth Bakke Stenehjem and has a son, Andrew.

Stenehjem was elected to the North Dakota House of Representatives representing District 42 in Grand Forks in 1976, serving for two terms until his election to the ND Senate in 1980. He served for twenty years in the Senate until his election to the Office of Attorney General. Stenehjem served on the Judiciary Committee throughout his tenure in the Legislature, and was Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee from 1995-2000. He was elected President Pro Tempore of the Senate for the 1999 Legislative Session. In January 2001, Stenehjem was sworn in as the State’s 29th Attorney General.

He was reelected in 2004, 2006, 2010, and 2014, each time with a landslide margin of victory averaging over 70%. He is now the longest serving Attorney General in North Dakota history.

Since taking office, Wayne has made drug enforcement a priority, proposing legislation to developing a drug enforcement initiative which coordinates law enforcement, health and human service agencies, and as well as addiction counseling, youth education, and stronger penalties for offenders. He has worked to enact and enforce legislation to curb methamphetamine (meth) use and addiction in the state, which has resulted in a dramatic reduction in the production and use of meth in North Dakota.

He launched the state’s sex offender website to provide parents and other concerned citizens with access to information about the most dangerous sex offenders in the state.

Wayne has worked diligently to eliminate domestic violence in the state. He was awarded the “Love Without Fear Award” by the Abused Adult Resource Center, noting that, during his years in the Legislature, he had been a sponsor or cosponsor of every piece of legislation enacted in the state designed to curb domestic violence.

Stenehjem established the state’s Do Not Call list, giving North Dakota consumers welcome relief from unwanted telemarketing calls and introduced an online Identity Theft program to provide North Dakota victims with “one click” access to all the information and forms necessary to deal with identity theft.

Wayne established the very successful 24/7 Sobriety pilot program to keep repeat drunk drivers from drinking and driving. Repeat DUI offenders in the program are required to refrain from consuming alcohol, and to complete breath alcohol testing twice a day. If the offender violates, the offender is taken directly to jail and must appear before a judge. He established, in 2010, the RX TAKE BACK Program, to provide a safe and secure way for residents to dispose of unwanted medications at no cost. To date, it is the nation’s only ongoing, permanent, statewide program.

Attorney General Stenehjem is a member of numerous boards and commissions, including the Board of University and School Lands, and the Industrial Commission, which oversees all state-owned industries including the Bank of North Dakota and the State Mill and Elevator.

He is the recipient of “Champion of the People’s Right to Know” award; SBAND Legislative Service Award; the 2005 North Dakota Peace Officer’s Association’s Lone Eagle Award, was inducted into the Scandinavian American Hall of Fame in 2007, and was named the 2011 Bismarck State College Alumnus of the Year. An Eagle Scout since 1968, Stenehjem was honored with the Distinguished Eagle Scout Award in 2013.

Learn more about Mr. Stenehjem on his campaign website.

Josh Wolsky

Developer & Writer @TheMinot Voice, Fan of the Souris River, There's a lot to Savor about Minot. Fortunate to be a 'former' City Council member ;)

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