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‘On the Issues’ continues with House candidates

Lori Carlson1 / 5
Craig Headland2 / 5
Chet Pollert3 / 5
Mary Schlosser4 / 5
5 / 5

On Wednesday, Chad Kaiser and Elizabeth Kapp, candidates for Stutsman County sheriff, answered questions. Candidates for Stutsman County Commission and District 29 Senate will also appear this week in The Sun.

District 29 voters will choose two candidates to serve as representatives in the North Dakota Legislature. The position is a four-year term and pays $177 per day when the Legislature is in session. The winners of the election officially take office Dec. 1. District 29 includes Stutsman County and southwest Jamestown (the rest of Jamestown is in District 12), Foster County and most of LaMoure County.

Incumbent Republicans Craig Headland and Chet Pollert are seeking re-election. Democrats Lori Carlson and Mary Schlosser are seeking election. The candidates were asked five written questions. The questions and their written answers, as written by the candidates, are below.

The election is Nov. 6.

Lori Carlson

Age: 59

Professional occupation: Family farmer

Immediate family - spouse or significant other; children: Richard Carlson; one child, Derek Carlson

Education: school attended/graduated; degrees and majors: graduate of Jamestown High School

Professional or personal memberships (i.e., clubs, church, professional organizations) (limited to 5): Barnes County North School Board, Winfield Township Board, Stutsman County Township Officers Association, South East Education Cooperative Governing Board, former board member of North Dakota Small Organized Schools

Craig Headland

Age: 57

Professional occupation; previous if retired: Farmer

Immediate family - spouse or significant other; children: Dawn, wife, and Sydney, daughter

Education: school attended/graduated; degrees and majors: Montpelier Public Schools, North Dakota State University and Moorhead State University

Professional or personal memberships (i.e., clubs, church, professional organizations) (limited to 5): El Zagel Shrine, Elks club, board member of DCT, president of Daktel, Montpelier Lutheran Church

Chet Pollert

Age:  63 years of age.

Professional occupation:  Owner/Operator of G & R Grain and Feed of New Rockford, N.D.

Immediate family - spouse or significant other; children: Married to Corine (Jo); three grown children, Garrett, Gavin,  Erica; 2 grandchildren

Education: school attended/graduated; degrees and majors: Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration, Valley City State College.

Professional or personal memberships (i.e., clubs, church, professional organizations) (limited to 5): Trinity Lutheran Church of Carrington, North Dakota Grain Dealers Association, North Dakota Ag Association,  NRA.

Mary Schlosser

Age: 66

Professional occupation: Regional Intervention Services (RIS) Coordinator for 9 county South Central Human Services Center region

Immediate family - spouse or significant other; children: Husband, Richard; 6 children -  

Kristi, Jackie, Michael, Ryan, Cindy, Emily; 18 grandchildren.

Education: school attended/graduated; degrees and majors: University of North Dakota: Bachelor's degree - Registered Nurse; University of North Dakota: Master’s Degree - Rural Health Nursing.

Professional or personal memberships (i.e., clubs, church, professional organizations) (limited to 5): Transfiguration Catholic Church - Altar Society, Cemetery Board; North Dakota Farmers Union - Youth Leader, Edgeley Local President

  1. It’s been two years since the voters approved by a 2-to-1 margin the use of medical marijuana in North Dakota. Is the process taking too long to implement? Explain.

Lori Carlson: For many months I’ve been talking to people on the campaign trail. This issue has come up numerous times. I understand the voters’ sense of frustration and perception that the state legislature was purposefully dragging its feet. The delay has been especially difficult for people in physical pain that would benefit from the medicinal qualities of marijuana.  

The people voted, and as their representatives, Headland and Pollert should respect and honor the citizen’s vote. They should do their job because not doing what we elected them to do is unacceptable.

Craig Headland: The state legislature was handed a ballot initiative that was poorly written and had to be completely redone in order for it to be implemented. The re-write gave the regulatory and rulemaking authority to the Dept. of Health which began setting up regulations shortly after the session. Several states have taken a similar amount of time for implementation, however I believe that with other states implantation already in place, we should have been able to reduce the amount of time it took here in North Dakota.

Chet Pollert: The legislature had to fix the measure. One main example being the measure did not decriminalize marijuana, besides others. It is still a federal crime to use marijuana so the legislature had to fix. Both republicans and democrats agreed the measure needed to be fixed and both sides worked to an agreeable compromise. After it passed both chambers and was signed by Governor Burgum, the measure had to be administered by the Department of Health.  This does take a while to get the administrative code in place. Remember that federally, marijuana is illegal so all aspects of medical marijuana have to be able to pass federal muster as well as accountability and inventory traceability. Having said that, it does seem that the Department of Health has taken a long time to implement but when medical marijuana has passed in other states the amount of time to implement has actually been taking longer in other states than it has in North Dakota.

Mary Schlosser: There are valid concerns about making sure regulations were in place before medical marijuana was ready for use, however, according to people who were closely involved with the issue, it appeared that the legislature was intentionally dragging their feet. I believe the legislature and State Health Department could have done better to insure that medical marijuana was available for the people that needed it.

  1. What do you see as the most pressing need for District 29 in the North Dakota Legislature? Explain.

Carlson: My running mates and I have knocked on over 3,000 doors in the district, and a big concern for many people, including teachers, parents, and students themselves, was school safety. When elected, I will work to find the means to install secured entry and cameras, funding for the placement of school resource officers, and further training for guidance counselors.  

District 29 residents say they are very concerned about their elderly parents and neighbors. They are worried that medical services are not available in rural areas to give the quality healthcare we all need. It is time to put the emphasis back on the needs of the people and to work towards a solution to the healthcare crisis across the state.

Headland:   As property taxes have continued to increase, the funding of local infrastructure across the district hasn’t kept up with the need. I fought for and the legislature passed one time funding providing state dollars to local cities, counties and townships to be used for local projects. I believe that the state can do more to make what was one time spending a more permanent commitment and will fight for legislation aimed to do just that. Although not a responsibility of the state, I believe that it is necessary for the state to partner with local political subdivisions with funding for projects across the district. It’s imperative for future growth and will help attract the much needed workforce to the area.

Pollert: The most pressing need for District 29 will be making sure that District 29 gets its share of dollars for infrastructure needs. "Operation Prairie Dog", which will be a bill coming forward with $280 million for county, city, and township infrastructure, is proposing $11.8 million for Stutsman, Foster and LaMoure Counties. I will push for passage of this bill but will also be pushing for our fair share of dollars from the DOT budget. The Department of Transportation budget will require a state match to maximize the federal dollars that North Dakota can get from the Federal Highway Administration. These DOT dollars will be used for roads, motor vehicle department, rest areas, city transit and transportation for our senior citizens and veterans. We need to maximize those dollars.

Schlosser: As we walked through each of the 26 rural communities in the district this summer, the concerns we heard consistently were issues that relate to community livability. For young families it was the need for affordable quality daycare, support for their small businesses on main street or in their homes, pre-school and after school programs, well maintained roads to get to school and work safely, high quality education, support for the arts, and student loan debt relief. Farmers were concerned about the low commodity prices, the increased price for grain bins and equipment due to increased steel prices, and the need for good roads to transport their grains to market. The elderly were concerned about transportation services and senior programs.  All expressed the importance of having a sustainable community cafe, and of course a common topic with everyone was property tax relief.

  1. Why should voters elect you to serve in the Legislature? Explain.

Carlson: I believe that a community is only as strong as the members who serve, and I have spent my entire adult life in servant leadership. From serving on a school board, township board, regional and state education boards, nonprofit boards, and county boards, my involvement speaks louder than words about how important it is to me to give back and to be a good neighbor.  

This belief is in contrast to the leadership style demonstrated by my opponents. They have voted time and again to line the pockets of big oil and out-of-state corporations while starving our most-rural communities of their vital services. From 2009-2015, my opponents cut corporation and income taxes to the tune of 1.7 BILLION dollars. Yet, LaMoure County has the highest suicide rate in the state, but still, our current representatives voted to cut social services. Our DOT shops are closing. Meals on Wheels for seniors was on the cutting block. It is time to elect people who CARE about our residents here in District 29.

Headland:  As Chairman of the House Finance and tax committee and a member of it for my time in the legislature, I have been a major player in tax relief in all areas of taxation. I’ve also been able to work strongly against punitive tax policy that would negatively impact rural areas of the state and will continue to fight against them. I am also a member of the Agriculture committee and as an active farmer, I bring a producers perspective to all Ag issues. I believe this experience is invaluable to the job and has helped me form the needed alliances necessary to move rural initiatives forward while being in a rural legislator outnumbered by our urban counterparts.

Pollert: When I first got elected to the State House of Representatives an experienced legislator gave me great advice. He said God gave us two ears and one mouth and he said to listen twice as much as talk. I feel I have done that and actually tell newly elected legislators as well. I feel I listen to both sides of an issue then make a decision. It is not always a popular decision but you must have convictions. I have a business background and that helps because without a financial background the budgeting of dollars is difficult. You cannot spend what you don't have. I feel a legislator should be fair but deliberate. Do not "beat around the bush". I feel that I treat people respectfully and allow people their say when they come in to testify. I feel both sides of the aisle need to practice more of these qualities.  

Schlosser: Having lived on a farm all my life, I’ve experienced the difficulties of working through volatile financial times.

As a mother of 6 college graduates and grandmother of 18 children, I understand the challenges of young families - including the concerns about healthcare, daycare, preschool & after school programs, K-12 education, and student debt.

My children have occupations in education, healthcare, agriculture, law,  several own their own businesses. I understand the issues of being an employer, an employee, paid medical leave, adequate salary, and small business concerns.

As a nurse who has gained invaluable experience working in Crisis Intervention - working with vulnerable adults, at risk youth in schools, farmers who have lost their farms, drug and alcohol addiction,  domestic violence, I worked extensively with law enforcement, with Emergency rooms and in jails, - I understand what a positive difference an adequate support system can be to assist people in becoming independent, productive members of society.

I believe my Real life experiences have provided me with a wealth of qualifications to be your legislative representative.  

  1. What would be your top five most pressing issues facing the state during the 2019 legislative session? Explain.

Carlson: General Fund shortfalls: Shortfalls are a self-inflicted crisis wrought by a state legislature that thought giving tax cuts to oil developers on the backs of hard-working earners was the definition of fiscal management! We have to make painful cuts. Rather than across the board cuts, we need surgical cuts that trim and don’t decimate.

Property tax reform: Your legislators cut revenue to local governments and forced those entities to raise taxes. Schools lost transportation income; Jamestown lost its HUB city status and $500,000.

School safety: The first step towards a solution is to meet with Superintendents and develop a school-by-school list of priorities.

Workforce shortage: A thriving community depends on a well-educated and well-paid workforce. 28 years as a School Board member, I understand the value of education. I will advocate for affordable education and a livable wage.

Infrastructure: Roads are our lifeline. The majority’s proposed infrastructure plan is tied to oil revenue which is a volatile source of income. Infrastructure should be a bipartisan effort, not a bill to buy your vote.  

Headland: A. Balancing our budget with a current structural gap.

  1. Passing a new infrastructure package.
  2. Continue to work on property tax reforms and regulatory relief for Farmers and Businesses.
  3. Fully funding the needs of our most vulnerable citizens and veterans.
  4. Continue to work on economic development and jobs programs that will help grow our economy. All of these initiatives can and should be accomplished this next session while maintaining a fiscally responsible, limited state government.  

Pollert: Top 5 areas are budget, DOT funding including infrastructure, K thru 12 education, workforce training and recruitment and funding for our most vulnerable.  The budget is the most important. Currently the general fund collections are 104 million above forecast and the oil and gas collections are 713 million above forecasts.  These above forecast dollars are needed to fill our reserve accounts which we can tap during the next session. Two years ago voters approved $140 million from the Foundation Aid Stabilization Fund to keep the K thru 12 per pupil payments unchanged.  This was one-time funding and we will need those above forecasted dollars to cover the $140 million plus to hopefully increase those per pupil payments to our school districts. As mentioned in another previous question the DOT and legislature will need to find a compromise between urban and rural for roads, maintenance, and snow-ice removal.  We will need to find solutions for workforce development and recruitment and also set priorities on programs for our most vulnerable citizens and our seniors.

Schlosser: Rural community livability, including quality affordable childcare, safe roads to get to work and to school, support for small businesses.

1) Behavioral Health concerns, including addressing the opiod epidemic and lack of services available for addiction treatment, the rapidly rising suicide rate in North Dakota, safety in schools.

2)  High quality education, including Early childhood intervention, pre-school and after school programs, STEAM education (including arts).

3) Agriculture. - Supporting agriculture economics through increased research and development funding.  Promote use and development of ag products such as ethanol and biodiesel, including support for increased Renewable Fuel Standards.

4) Property tax relief that is not tied to a volatile commodity like oil taxes. In 2008, the citizens voted by ballot measure to maintain public services in lieu of cutting individual and corporate income taxes. However, the majority party legislature has systematically cut those taxes every session which has resulted in billions of dollars of lost revenue, which has caused the need for increased property taxes.

5)  Senior Citizen programs to support quality of life deserving of elderly citizens.

  1. What impact has closing the regional Department of Transportation shops had on snow removal in rural areas of District 29? What, if any, change would you make regarding the closing? Explain.

Carlson: Many rural residents travelled to Bismarck to testify before the legislature on the highly negative impact that the DOT closures would have: inability to get to school, to work, to the hospital, to get crops to market. Even though my opponents were members of the majority party, and senior members of pivotal committees, they were unable to press the case for the continuation of this irreplaceable service.

We need legislators who will stand up for the basic necessities of our rural                 populace and who will not tow the party line dictated by a leader from Fargo who clearly is out of touch with those of us living far from services.

This issue needs to be readdressed in the next session. Rural North Dakotans shouldn’t settle for less, we deserve services too.

Headland: I believe the full impact of closing the shops had not been seen until the early snow event that took place a few weeks ago. I think the state was caught off guard and didn’t have the plows in place when the event occurred, which lead to at least one of the state highways not being plowed. This was unacceptable and needs to be reversed next session. This will be a major battle again, but with evidence of DOT’s shortcomings and upfront knowledge among our districts citizens, I believe that with the hard work and a strong citizen effort, we will successfully convince a majority that the shop closings should be reversed.

Pollert: There is no doubt that snow removal has been affected. It was definitely evident in the snowfall that hit Stutsman, Barnes and LaMoure Counties on the 10th of October. The DOT administration, I feel, has placed their emphasis on urban centers and is placing the rural areas on a secondary basis. We need to educate the urban legislators that the rural areas are important for their success as well, so that with their help we can get the DOT administration to treat the urban centers on an equal basis with their rural partners. The DOT employees are not guilty of this because their administrators and district supervisors call the orders and the routes.  The DOT will be holding a series of meetings in hopefully November or December and the process will start there and continue thru the next session. Consensus building with urban and rural legislators and the DOT will be important. It will not be solved by pitting urban versus rural.

Schlosser: As someone who drove to work and back 70 miles every day, I have experienced the importance of having local DOT maintenance shops that are able to get the roads open in a timely manner so people can get to work on time and children can get to school safely.  I am in favor of re-opening the DOT shops in Litchville, Gackle, and Courtney.