VISIONS FOR ND’S FUTURE: Grabinger, Andersen have different plans for state

The two candidates for the District 12 Senate seat have different views on their vision for the future of North Dakota. Sen. John Grabinger, D-Jamestown, sees a state that needs to solve problems dealing with drugs and crime. "I hope North Dakota...

The two candidates for the District 12 Senate seat have different views on their vision for the future of North Dakota.

Sen. John Grabinger, D-Jamestown, sees a state that needs to solve problems dealing with drugs and crime.

“I hope North Dakota, after we get through the budget issues, can step up to the plate and deal with the drug problem and overcrowded prisons,” he said.

Solutions won’t be easy, Grabinger said.

“It will take a bipartisan effort,” he said. “It will take a lot of money and a lot of people. We need to try to find the people the help they need to avoid prison.”


Republican challenger Katie Andersen, who is mayor of Jamestown, said her vision for North Dakota promotes business.

“(My vision is) for North Dakota to have a stable, vibrant economy,” she said. “We need to support the natural sectors of agriculture and industry but support other areas like manufacturing and technology so we have stability.”

The candidates also disagree on Andersen’s ability to serve as mayor and senator, if elected to the Senate. North Dakota Century Code allows individuals to hold one elected office at each level of government.

“I think the people of District 12 and Jamestown deserve to have a person that can devote most of their time to the job,” Grabinger said.

Grabinger said he had served as a Jamestown city councilman prior to being elected to the North Dakota Senate in 2012.

“Both positions deserve a person that can give 110 percent to the job,” he said.

Andersen said if elected, she would be holding two part-time jobs because North Dakota has no fulltime mayors or legislators.

“It puts you in touch with the people you represent in the best way possible,” she said, regarding serving in both capacities.


Grabinger disagreed.

“I don’t think one should be taken lightly over the other,” he said.

The candidates did agree that the race has become more political than previous races.

Andersen said her two elections to the mayor’s office were nonpartisan races.

“This is different,” she said. “Outside influences come with the (political) parties. There are outside dollars that come into the race.”

Grabinger said the race had become more negative than any previous contest he had been part of.

“With signs being defaced, we are seeing stuff we’ve never seen before,” he said. “I hope it doesn’t continue.”

Both candidates agree economic development is crucial for the growth of the area.


Grabinger praised the efforts of the Jamestown/ Stutsman Development Corp., but said he had previously disagreed with some of its projects.

“Locally, we’re on the right track,” he said. “The JSDC has been working hard with half of the city sales tax. It takes a lot of money to be competitive with the rest of the state.”

Grabinger said he did not oppose the Spiritwood Energy Park Association but opposed the rail spur as a private citizen. The decision to move forward with the rail loop occurred between his time on the City Council and his election to the Senate.

“I didn’t think it was necessary for the citizens of Jamestown to spend $4 million for a railroad spur for the benefit of Great River Energy,” he said.

SEPA is a rail loop and industrial park near Spiritwood. Spiritwood Station, a coal-fired electric generating plant owned by GRE, is located adjacent to the industrial park and Dakota Spirit AgEnergy, owned by GRE through its subsidiary Midwest AgEnergy, produces ethanol within the park. Additional businesses are being recruited to occupy the remaining portions of the park.

Andersen touted SEPA as one of the great things Jamestown has accomplished over the past years.

“We’ve put in the infrastructure so everything is shovel ready,” she said, speaking of efforts to attract new business to the area.

Andersen also said the addition of a water tower in south Jamestown had improved fire protection in the area and helped make the addition of three hotels in southern Jamestown possible.

Andersen did say the recruitment of Menards to Jamestown could be seen as giving the store an advantage over other local businesses. The property tax generated by the Menards business and 1 percent of the city sales tax are used to pay for the infrastructure in the area of the Menards’ store.

“Recruiting Menards was not an easy task,” she said. “ … there were no direct payments to Menards.”

Andersen called the new store a “win-win” and credited it with contributing to record taxable sales and purchases numbers in Jamestown for the last two quarters.

Grabinger said he was glad Menards had located in Jamestown but thought the incentives were excessive.

“I think we sold the farm to get them,” he said. “We shouldn’t be giving tax incentives to retail.”

North Dakota residents will elect senators and representatives for the even-numbered legislative districts on Tuesday, Nov. 8.

An earlier version of this story contained an error. Sen. John Grabinger supports the Spiritwood Energy Park Association but opposed taxpayer funding for the rail spur.

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