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On the issues: District 29 Senate

District 29 voters will choose one candidate to serve as senator in the North Dakota Legislature.  The position is a four-year term and pays from $177 per day when the Legislature is in session. The winner of the election officially takes office on 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 Republican Terry Wanzek is seeking re-election. Democrat Katherine Roth is seeking election. The candidates were asked five written questions. The questions and their written answers, as written by the candidates, are below.

Katherine Roth

Age: 41

Professional occupation; previous if retired: Co-Founder and Executive Director of the Jamestown Regional Entrepreneur Center

Immediate family - spouse or significant other; children: single

Education: school attended/graduated; degrees and majors: University of Jamestown, Bachelor of Arts with majors in Business Administration, Communications, German and Spanish; University of Wisconsin – Whitewater, Master of Business Administration with an emphases in Operations & Supply Chain Management and Human Resource Management

Professional or personal memberships (i.e., clubs, church, professional organizations) (limited to 5): North Dakota Advisory Committee, U.S. Global Leadership Coalition, Startup Champions Network

Terry Wanzek

Age: 61

Professional occupation; previous if retired: Farmer, Businessman

Immediate family - spouse or significant other; children: Spouse: Janice Wanzek

3 children: Briana, Ryan, Mariah; 4 grandchildren: Jackson, Lauren, Olive, Nolan

Education: school attended/graduated; degrees and majors: BA Cum Laude University of Jamestown,  Texas A&M TEPAP Degree

Professional or personal memberships (i.e., clubs, church, professional organizations) (limited to 5): St. James Basilica Catholic Church, Knights of Columbus, Nodal Insurance board, Global Farmers Network board member, Jamestown Regional Medical Center governing board

  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.

Katherine Roth: The voters spoke with its passage and it is necessary to listen to the will of the people. Although it is important to be careful in its implementation, it is equally important to be timely in getting it done. The medical needs of residents should not be overlooked.

Terry Wanzek: It seems like it is taking a long time, however according to the N.D. Health Department we are similar to other states in  implementing medical marijuana programs. Other states have taken anywhere from 18 months to 36 months to fully implement their programs. There were flaws with the Measure as passed that needed to be corrected. For instance, it did not decriminalize the possession of marijuana. It is still a Federal offense. Steps needed to be made to satisfy the federal government’s Department of Justice, which takes time.

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

Roth: We need a better – run, more responsive state government for our residents. Our district has great parks, schools, libraries, and other services, but we can support them better. I will work diligently with members of the legislature to direct resources to our top priorities and improve service delivery. I will also strive to make sure our decision making on operations is transparent and fair. With this we need to provide property tax relief for residents. We need to ensure that individuals, families, and retirees can live more comfortably without the burden of additional taxation.

Wanzek: While there are numerous pressing issues, if I have to name just one it would be infrastructure needs. There is always a need for maintenance and updating of our roads, bridges, septic systems etc. with limited resources. With our recent increases in oil tax revenues, there is a GOP proposal that I support, targeting non oil areas; city, county and township infrastructure needs of $280 million per biennium. A significant amount of the oil revenues already go to the oil production areas where there are impacts. So this is designed to help the non oil areas. This not only could help our local jurisdictions with infrastructure needs but could also help take some pressure off local property taxes. This would be approximately an additional $11.3 million per biennium of state funds for the local areas in district 29. This is over the current level of local road funding coming from the state today.

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

Roth: It is an honor to be the Democratic – NPL nominee and have the support of several organizations representing thousands of people who teach our kids, clean our offices and schools and keep us safe – the people who keep this district and others running.                                As the Co-Founder and Executive Director of the Jamestown Regional Entrepreneur Center, I have extensive experience in solving community needs in business and economic development. I have advised starting and growing businesses in District 29. As a result of working for the federal government I have significant experience in helping with the implementation of business service programs at the grassroots level. Together, we can meet the needs of our district in the next biennium. Please vote for me for State Senate.

Wanzek: I have an abundance of real life experience in the private world in business and in the public world serving in the legislature. I am a compassionate person who cares very deeply for our state, our community and our people. I love my country and this state, my family and I have a deep faith. It’s because of these experiences and attributes that I will listen, reason with logic and use sound judgment and common sense to make decisions that are in the best interest of the people of district 29 and the state of North Dakota.

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

Roth: - Ensure rural services, such as Department of Transportation shops and rural health care centers are adequately supported in our district to safeguard community livability.

-Ensure proper funding for the North Dakota Senior Service providers so that meals for seniors and veterans, as well as, a robust transit plan for medical appointments is in place.

-Support science, technology, engineering and mathematics programs at the secondary level.

-Adequate funding for infrastructure is needed in order to maintain the economic vitality of our district and of the state of North Dakota.

-Supporting behavioral health services is essential. Public health issues such as, mental health, substance abuse, and young incarceration rates must be addressed. According to America’s Health Rankings, North Dakota has the second highest rate for binge drinking. The U.S. News and World Report notes that North Dakota has the seventh highest juvenile incarceration rate. Lastly, according to a recent Center for Disease Control report that the Fargo Forum recently cited, North Dakota has the highest increase in the rate of suicide in the nation.

Wanzek: 1- Balancing the state budget and responsibly managing the state’s financial resources. 2-  Maintain a business friendly, pro growth opportunistic economy by supporting reasonable levels of taxation and common sense state regulations. A growing economy helps everybody. 3- Prioritizing our states needs and funding them adequately, like Education and Human Services. 4- Infrastructure. For public safety and economic reasons we need to provide maintenance and updates to our transportation infrastructure. 5- Workforce needs. As our state moves into the new modern, highly technological economy there is demand for highly skilled workers.

  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.

Roth: Closing Department of Transportation shops has interfered with the ability of residents to commute safely. Reopening the Courtenay, Gackle, and Litchville locations is the best alternative to ensuring the public safety of District 29 residents and those using our roads. Public investments in rural services are fundamental to supporting a community’s livability.

Wanzek: According to the NDDOT there should be no impact on snow removal in the rural areas where shops were closed because of more efficient, modernized and larger snowplow equipment. I hear a different story from the local people. We fought tooth and nail to keep those shops open last session. Although we did not prevail, we did get an amendment placed on the NDDOT budget that prohibits them from selling off the sectional shops for 2 years. This gives us and our constituents another legislative session opportunity to be able to assess the DOT claims of reliable service and to re-open the rural shops if necessary. The people who live in the rural areas of North Dakota deserve the same level of services that are expected in the urban areas. They pay taxes too. Most of North Dakota’s wealth comes from rural areas where there’s oil and agriculture.