BISMARCK — North Dakota Land Commissioner Jodi Smith has resigned her position after four years on the job, according to a news release.
Smith, the first woman to serve in the position, said she's stepping down on Oct. 28 to pursue a public sector job outside of state government. Gov. Doug Burgum reappointed Smith to a second term in June.
As commissioner, Smith oversaw the state Department of Trust Lands, which manages unclaimed property, oil and gas leases on public land and a handful of education-focused trust funds. The agency has played an elevated role in state government since the oil boom of the late 2000s, managing billions of dollars in assets.
Smith took direction from the powerful Board of University and School Lands, which includes Burgum, Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem, Secretary of State Al Jaeger, Superintendent of Public Instruction Kirsten Baesler and Treasurer Thomas Beadle.
“I would like to extend my heartfelt gratitude for the support and opportunities you have provided me during my time as the Commissioner and Secretary for the Board,” Smith said in the release. "I am exceptionally proud of our accomplishments, proud of my team for their tireless dedication and I am looking forward to my next steps in my own career after these significant accomplishments.”
Burgum commended Smith, noting the department grew its managed assets by $3 billion and added more than 1,500 oil and gas leases during her tenure.
Smith occasionally clashed with oil and gas companies over allegedly past-due royalty payments that she believed were owed to the state. She leaves the department as a legal battle over the unpaid royalties continues to play out in court.
The board must now appoint a new commissioner for the remainder of Smith's term, which ends in June 2025.