Why are you running for election/re-election?
Belter: I have served District 22 since 1984, and as Chairman of the House Finance and Tax committee I have the experience and also the respect of my colleagues to be an effective voice for District 22.
Peterson: I have a deep and abiding interest in making the tools of government work as efficiently and effectively for the benefit of everyone, particularly for those people who struggle to make ends meet. I believe that I have the passion, background, ability and interest to be a very productive and effective legislator for the citizens of District 22 and all of North Dakota.
Silbernagel: To make our state government successful requires citizen participation. I want to be engaged in the process. I want to help make our form of government stronger. I want to do my part to ensure that the legacy we have inherited is passed on to future generations.
What sets you apart from the other legislative candidates?
Belter: I have always been able to work with fellow legislators, and consequently that is an attribute of which I am proud.
Peterson: I believe that my educational background, intellect, work experience, interest in the political process and years of advocacy on behalf of people with disabilities make for someone who has some unique qualifications who is very well suited to serve in the North Dakota legislature
Silbernagel: I believe that my experience in both the private and public sectors has prepared me for the role as a legislator. These experiences are detailed on my website, www.petesilbernagel.com. My 40 year career enables me to have a balanced perspective and a common sense approach to government.
Name two legislative topics that you plan on addressing and hopefully impacting in the upcoming session.
Belter: Fair taxation and equitable tax relief: There will be many bills this session dealing with taxes cuts and credits. Therefore, it will continue to be my highest priority to insure fairness for the taxpayer. Energy development: We now face a shortage of low cost oil. We are on the path to a shortage of electrical power and rapidly rising costs if more electrical generating capacity is not developed. I will continue to work toward developing more of our energy resources in North Dakota.
Peterson: I would work very hard on behalf of people who work for a paycheck and would do whatever I could to introduce and support any legislation that would better their lives. Aside from supporting workforce initiatives, I believe, that there are many issues that must be addressed with regard to the infrastructure needs in the oil patch and that the legislature has a definite responsibility to address the issues that have adversely affected people who live in that region of western North Dakota.
Silbernagel: I believe that the biennium budget will be of the highest priority. Addressing the current financial needs while keeping a long term perspective will be at the top of the list. Another key topic will be water issues. This includes flood control, water quality, irrigation and providing water supplies for all regions of our state.
How and for what do you feel the state surplus can best be utilized?
Belter: The current national financial situation will place a heavy burden on all of us. It will be paramount that the next legislature is cautious and forward thinking. It is my objective to provide meaningful tax relief that is fair to all the citizens of North Dakota. Education funding, water development, and maintaining our highway system are some of the major areas where surplus funds can be used.
Peterson: (1) invest a portion of the surplus to reduce the costs of K12 education and address infrastructure needs in the oil patch, (2) support further research in agriculture and maintenance of our natural resources , (3) save a portion of it for the future, and (4) reduce property and sales taxes for people who have modest and low incomes.
Silbernagel: First we should address the needs of medical, educational, fire and police protection, roads and housing. Secondly, we should continue to fund for the future through the state's "Legacy Fund." Third, we should use our surplus to reduce the tax burden of our citizens by reducing both property and income taxes.
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?
Belter: First we must enforce our current laws. It is important that all of us become more aware of the problems and the tragic loss of human life that driving under the influences has caused. We need to work closely with law enforcement to see what penalties might reduce driving under the influence.
Peterson: I'm by no means an authority on what could be done to prevent people from driving under the influence, but would be open to instituting new and innovative regulatory initiatives to discourage people from driving while intoxicated. I believe that the responsibility for the consequences of driving under the influence are shared by both those who have made that choice and by those who sell liquor as well.
Silbernagel: I believe that penalties for both liquor establishments and drivers should be increased with the greatest increases being directed toward the drivers. I believe there will be several bills proposed to do so and that the Interim Legislative Transportation Committees will be recommending the same.