Meet the Candidates: District 16 - House of Representatives
Why are you running for election?
Goerger: I was asked to replace the endorsed nominee that became ineligible. This provided the opportunity to build a future for our next several generations through infrastructure development, stream line education, flood and water management and an even better business climate.
Hanson: West Fargo and southwestern Fargo are experiencing unprecedented growth, leading to the creation of this new legislative district. North Dakota is experiencing unprecedented growth in the Red River Valley and out west. I am running to make sure the state grows smart and to provide detail-orientated leadership that is proactive rather than reactive to the many challenges we face as part of this growth.
Koppelman: It has always been my philosophy that a government is best run by those it governs. In North Dakota, we have a citizen Legislature that meets part time, which means that legislators return home and live under the laws that they enact. I believe this helps to ensure a higher quality of legislation and a more common-sense approach. I am running for the North Dakota Legislature not to achieve a title, but rather to help set sound policy.
Lund: Because I am grateful for all I have beem blessed with as a citizen of North Dakota and feel my skills will allow me to give back as a legislator. I want to represent all the people of this great state and ensure all citizens equal opportunity for success and a quality life. Keeping the legislative process focused on the needs of the citizens in my district and across the state will be my highest priority. The decisions of our upcoming legislative sessions will affect our future for generations to come. We need balanced ideas and responsible legislators to make those decisions.
What sets you apart from the other legIslative candidates?
Goerger: My years of experience in business, developing business and people, working behind the scenes to make a better place to live. A more strategic and broad view of issues and solutions that provide real results for taxpayers.
Hanson: I was born and raised in North Dakota with family that farms in the Casselton/Amenia area and Divide and Williams counties. My work frequently takes me out west, where I see and experience the oil boom firsthand. I am very conscious of what the state is experiencing and needs.
Koppelman: I am a small business owner who understands what it means to sign both sides of a paycheck. I know and understand the struggles that a small business endures during and after the start-up process. I served four years on the West Fargo School Board and most recently as the president of the board. This experience has given me a unique insight into school finance, the challenges we face with student achievement and graduation, and the importance of a quality education and how that influences our society.
Lund: As a business owner for the past 14 years I understand balancing budgets, controlling costs and investing in new opportunities. I also know what it takes to create jobs and grow businesses, skills that will be helpful to a legislature considering economic development issues. Understanding of complex industries and issues which in some cases, are highly regulated through my years of involvement in healthcare, is knowledge and experience which can apply to other industries. I have the experience and courage to negotiate and make tough decisions for the benefit of the majority of our citizens while considering the needs of the minority.
Name two legislative topics that you plan on addressing and hopefully impacting in the upcoming session.
Goerger: Property taxes will be adjusted. Flood and water issues in the valley will have a viable solution in motion; education from 0-18 will be streamlined and focused on the child's outcomes.
Hanson: 1. Property Tax Relief: Providing real, lasting reform that West Fargo and Fargo homeowners can feel through an exemption on the first $100,000 valuation on their primary residences.
2. Housing and Infrastructure to keep up with boomtimes: county roads, aquifer-capacity, law enforcement, emergency medical/fire crews, etc. in the Oil Patch counties.
Koppelman: Property tax relief/reform and infrastructure needs throughout the state will likely be the biggest issues. However, equitable education funding for West Fargo and other growing school districts and comprehensive flood control will also be important.
Lund: Infrastructure needs throughout the state, they are affecting our opportunities for continued economic development; and Education - Pre-K, K-12, Higher Ed
How and for what do you feel the state surplus can best be utilized?
Goerger: Infrastructure such as roads in all counties need a cash infusion. Schools could use help in responding to the increase in students all across the state. Property tax adjustments for homes and business
Hanson: Keep our state's infrastructure strong. Ensure equal funding levels for higher education across the state, while preventing unequal and unnecessary tuition bumps for our students. Seek (and fund!) permanent flood protection for the F-M area. Increase levels of law enforcement and emergency medical services where needed to ensure public safety.
Koppelman: Voters made a wise decision in creating the Legacy Fund, which saves a portion of the surplus for future generations. The budget surplus should not be used for unsustainable growth in government. Some one-time expenditures such as infrastructure, flood control, and deferred maintenance may be worthy of consideration. Lowering taxes should also be considered. The surplus is due to our great economic success in North Dakota, but that doesn't mean it all needs to be spent.
Lund: Invest in activities with the greatest return on investment for the state of North Dakota. The following are investments I feel would be most appropriate at this time: Education, we need to address funding issues for building new schools and attract and retain the best teachers. Infrastructure so necessary for our continued economic development such as roads, housing, technology. Development and implementation of a comprehensive water management plan.
What kind of regulatory laws do you think should be enacted for both liquor establishments and drivers to help prevent impaired driving tragedies like the one that took the lives of a West Fargo family earlier this year?
Goerger: This tragedy was terrible. My understanding is the young man went to 5 bars that day. That is 5 bartenders, patrons and citizens outside the establishments that knew the man and his issues. Yet none intervened or notified authorities. He had over 5 DUI's which means 5 or more judges did not do their job and incarcerate him so he could get the help he needed. More laws would not have prevented this incident, judges and people could have.
Hanson: I hear about this issue frequently going door-to-door and it affects me deeply. I would essentially leave laws regarding liquor establishments alone and focus on the drivers themselves. I do not feel current law serves a punishment strong enough to provide real deterrent to drunk drivers. I would like to move much closer to permanently taking licenses away for driving-under-the-influence. This will be difficult to pass as it may be viewed as Draconian. However, for the victims of drunk driving accidents, along with their family and friends, the cost of a license is a small price to pay compared to the cost of a human life carelessly taken for simply being on the road at the same time someone else decided to be irresponsible.
Koppelman: We need to ensure that the laws that we currently have on the books are fully enforced, and examine the penalties for such behavior and make sure that they are appropriate. However, I believe that we see tragedies like this one happen all too often because we as a society are dismissive of the concept of drinking and driving. The way to change this is to make drinking and driving socially unacceptable to the point where bar owners and patrons alike refuse to allow this irresponsible and tragic behavior. Making more laws may be necessary, in fact I believe that a comprehensive bill is now being crafted, but laws alone won't change what society finds acceptable. That responsibility lies with all of us.
Lund: At this time I would need further study and input from law enforcement and liquor establishments to determine what could have been done to prevent such a terrible event. When faced with such tragic events we need to determine whether enforcement or new legislation would have greater impact in future prevention.