Long-awaited Election Day Tuesday, Nov. 6 will not only decide the national political landscape but will shape the structure of state and local candidates serving as well as decide the fate of several ballot measures.
Today's West Fargo Pioneer and News offers reader insight into candidates vying for District 16 and District 22 positions in the North Dakota Legislature through individual profiles featured on pages 17 through 21.
Each district has two House seats and a Senate seat in the legislative race with even numbered districts having elections this year and odd-numbered districts in two years. The main vote-getters from each party for each seat in the June 12 primary election advanced to the November general election. The top two vote getters in the general election will win a House seat and will serve respective four-year terms.
District 16 is one of North Dakota's newly-formed districts, representing parts of West Fargo and Fargo. Among those candidates vying for the open positions are Republicans: David Duff, Senate, and Ben Koppelman and Harlan Goerger, House, and Democrats: Tyler Axness, Senate, and Ben Hanson and John Lund, House.
Vying for the District District 22 seats which cover rural Cass County, including Casselton, are Republican incumbents Gary Lee, Senate, and Wes Belter, House, joined by newcomer Peter Silbernagel for House. Democrats seeking election are Jessica Arneson for Senate and Allan Peterson, House.
Candidates for other local races include: District 44 Senate: incumbent Tim Flakoll (R), Rick Olek (D); District 44 House: Joshua A. Boschee (D), incumbent Donald Clark (R), Bob Jansen (D), incumbent Blair Thoreson (R); District 46 Senate: Jim Roers (R), George Sinner (D); District 46 House incumbents Kathy Hawken (R) and Jim Kasper (R) and challengers Lee Myxter (D) and Diane Hill (D).
Cass County Commission positions are also open with candidates required to live in the district they represent. They are elected by a county wide vote, with one chosen from each district to serve a four-year term.
Seeking the Commission seat in District 1 (north Fargo) are: Chad Peterson and Rocky Schneider, District 3 (south Fargo): incumbent Ken Pawluk; and District 5 (Cass County, outside of Fargo and West Fargo): Brandy Pyle, Casselton, and Mary Scherling, Fargo.
The ballot also contains five statewide measures and applicable local measures, including one specific to West Fargo voters asking residents whether or not they will approve a 50 cent increase in county 911 emergency services fees shared among cities in the metro area through the Red River Dispatch Center in Fargo.
During 2013 budget talks earlier this year, the West Fargo City Commission approved putting the increase to a public vote in the November election.
Every citizen with a phone currently pays $1 a month for the 911 service fee which is charged through the phone service provider. The hike would take the monthly charge to $1.50 becoming effective Jan. 1, 2013.
City Administrator Jim Brownlee explained that since the cost share is based on population. West Fargo's share to the dispatch center increased after the most current census figures were released because of the substantial growth. Consequently, the city's costs went up considerably and the 911 fees are not enough to cover the increases.
He said that $415,000 has been estimated as the amount West Fargo will pay the county for 911 fees in 2013. The city presently collects about $220,000, so the remaining $180,000 will have to come out of the general fund. Brownlee noted, if approved, the additional 50 cents will only generate about $108,000, which means money will still have to allocated from the general fund, just not as much.
If the measure is voted down, Brownlee said the fees will continue to be funded with general fund money.
Up until the last legislative session, state law only allowed for a dollar fee to be charged for the 911 service. At that time legislators revisited the topic, allowing cities to put any increases to a vote of the people.
All that is needed is a simple majority vote to pass the measure.
Complete information on all the remaining voting choices for respective national, state and local races, and on other specific measures pertaining to Cass County voters are previewed on the General Election sample ballot also featured in today's papers on page 21.
Other high profile measures include: Measure three dealing with the right of farmers and ranchers to engage in modern farming and ranching practices; Measure No. 4 which would prohibit smoking, including the use of electronic smoking devices, in public places and most places of employment in the state, including certain outdoor areas; and Measure No. 5, which would make it a class C felony for an individual to maliciously and intentionally harm a living dog, cat or horse, and provide a court with certain sentencing options.
Voting precincts for West Fargo residents including the 911 measure and respective candidates are: 13-01, Westside Elementary School, 945 7th Ave. W.; 13-02, West Fargo City Hall, 800 4th Ave. E.; 13-03, Veterans Memorial Arena, 1201 7th Ave. E.; 16-01, Meadow Ridge Bible Chapel, 2198 2nd Ave. E.; 16-02, Holy Cross Church, 1420 16th St. E.; 16-03 Scheels Arena, 4225 31st Ave. S., 22-06, Shiloh Evangelical Free Church, 2200 Shiloh St.; 22-08 Horace Senior Center, 214 Thue St.; and 45-01 Fargodome, 1800 Univ. Dr. N. (The latter two are locations are for small portions of West Fargo.)
District 22 polling sites include: 22-01 Page Senior Center, 124 Morton Ave.; 22-02 Arthur Community Hall, 550 Main St.; 22-03 Buffalo Community Center; 22-04 Days Inn, Casselton; 22-05 Mapleton Community Center; and 22-07 Davenport Community Center, 120 Main St.
Polls at all the locations will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
For a complete listing of all the other polling sites and addresses along with maps in the metro area and countywide, visit the Cass County website at www.casscountynd.gov.