District 12 candidates address rural roads issueEditor’s note: North Dakota Senate and House candidates from District 12 answer questions in this periodic series leading up to Election Day.
By: Brian Willhide, The Jamestown Sun
Editor’s note: North Dakota Senate and House candidates from District 12 answer questions in this periodic series leading up to Election Day.
With rural roads one of several pressing issues for North Dakota, The Sun asked the two District 12 Senate candidates and the four District 12 House of Representatives candidates for the Nov. 6 general election the following question:
What can be done to provide better funding for county/township roads outside the Oil Patch and, given that everyone wants their roads funded, how do you determine the most critical needs?
John Grabinger: “The first thing we need to do is work with the county, cities included, and townships to put together what is needed to help this issue. Then we need to approach the state like we did four years ago and put some money into the general fund. I would support enhancing the money put into that fund. To think we can pay for all the roads and bridges that have been damaged over the years all at once is not likely, but we need to create a matching program with the state where we each come up with a certain percentage. To suggest that the state is going to bring in $25 million and pay for it immediately is not reasonable. The key is working with our local leaders because they are the ones who know what is needed.”
Grabinger is the Democratic candidate for District 12 Senate. He is a former Jamestown City Council member and owner of Grabinger Marina of Jamestown.
Bernie Satrom: “I know there are some proposals that will be coming soon to provide state funding to assist the county and local infrastructure needs, and I plan on supporting that. Even with the surplus, there is not adequate funding to provide for everything that needs to be done and local funding will be required. County commissioners have likely already developed a list of priorities and I believe it is the county commissioners who should make the decisions on how the state funds are handled along with input from local citizens.”
Satrom is the Republican candidate for District 12 Senate. He is the president of Maranatha Custom Churches, Inc of Jamestown.
N.D. House of Representatives
Jessica Haak: “Preparing infrastructure issues such as roads and bridges that are deteriorating is critical to this election and it’s critical that this legislature addresses that. We need to work with whichever candidate for governor is elected as well as city and county officials to determine where most critical needs are and who’s going to play what role in addressing those issues. It’s going to be a cohesive effort. A great thing we could fight for is, currently right now with the oil revenue, after all the money is pre-allocated, there’s an extra 25 percent that is taken into the legacy fund. If we can take that 25 percent and use that instead for infrastructure needs across the state, then that would be a solution I could offer. The biggest thing is getting all the players in the room and seeing how everyone from the governor to local officials can work together for a solution.”
Haak is a Democratic candidate for District 12 House. She is the membership development coordinator at North Dakota Farmers Union in Jamestown.
Ken Hall: “The county pretty much already determines the needs based on a number of factors. It should be a one-time expenditure to get the roads back into good condition. After that, there should be enough funds to maintain the roads and keep them in good shape. They’ve mostly been a result of natural disasters, snow and too much water on them over the years. I would be in favor of taking funds from other areas of the state budget to pay for the roads, but I would not be in favor of increasing taxes to pay for them.”
Hall is a Republican candidate for District 12 House. He is retired from the federal government, including three years with the U.S. Army.
Lyle Hanson: “I can’t answer that until the governor puts those numbers into his budget, and that won’t be out until December. If you’re going to pave roads, it’s going to cost you a million dollars a mile. If you’re going to gravel roads, it will cost even less. But it’s something we just can’t determine until we get that budget from the governor.”
Hanson is an incumbent Democrat candidate for District 12 House. He is a retired teacher and has served in the North Dakota House since 1979.
Alex Looysen: “The way our budget is set up, we actually have funds from the oil revenue out west going in to fix the infrastructure out there. I’d like to see possibly using some of that funding to fix emergency situations and emergency repairs here in Stutsman County here and other parts of North Dakota — not just limit it to oil country. Jamestown has seen more traffic and other roads like Highway 281 have seen it, too. I would not be in favor of increasing property taxes to fund the roads, unless it goes to the public and they want that. As far as who should get the funding where and when, I think it comes down to a common sense type of approach, with perhaps a grading system. Let’s use common sense so that it’s fair to everyone and we’re not fixing roads that don’t really need it as much as others that are really bad.”
Looysen is a Republican candidate for District 12 House. He is a student at Jamestown College and owns a lawn care business.
Sun reporter Brian Willhide can be reached at 701-952-8454 or by email at email@example.com