Audio: Gubernatorial Candidates Marvin Nelson, Marty Riske Debate

North Dakota candidates for governor share a laugh while participating in a debate in Bismarck. From left are Marty Riske, Marvin Nelson and Doug Burgum. Photo by Will Kincaid / Bismarck Tribune

On my radio show today I hosted a debate between the gubernatorial candidates.

Or, at least, two of the candidates. Republican candidate Doug Burgum, who was all kinds of available back during the Republican primary, has become less accessible now that we’ve entered the general election portion of the contest. I sent an invitation to his campaign, and even asked him on-air if he’d like to join his opponents, but he declined stating that if he did one radio debate he’d have to do more.

I don’t see what the big deal is about having more debates. I wish Burgum had participated, because I think we had a very good discussion between Democratic candidate Marvin Nelson and Libertarian candidate Marty Riske.

The full audio is below.

On education, Nelson ripped Burgum for trying to “turn everyone into screen addicts,” a comment on Burgum espousing the use of computers and smartphones in the state’s schools. He said Burgum has “gone to too many computer seminars at Microsoft.”

On education, Nelson ripped Burgum for trying to “turn everyone into screen addicts,” a comment on Burgum espousing the use of computers and smartphones in the state’s schools. He said Burgum has “gone to too many computer seminars at Microsoft.”

Riske, meanwhile, said he’d like to fix government spending by getting away from across-the-board reductions and focusing on targeted cuts to problem areas of government. He also said he’d like to see full comprehensive audits of every portion of state government, something he’d hire a private firm to do instead of leaving it up to the State Auditor’s office.

On the issue with overcrowding in state prisons, Riske said the state is suffering from a “repeat of the failure of prohibition.” The Libertarian candidate said too many people are being put in jail for drug issues. “Law enforcement is not going to solve this problem,” he said.

Nelson, on the other hand, said the Legislature has “just destroyed” mental health services in the state by “cutting positions in the court system” that deal with drug treatment.

I also asked the candidates about North Dakota’s agriculture industry which has taken a hit from low crop prices.

Nelson said he wants the State Grain Mill to focus on giving farmers better prices instead of taking profits. “The elevator was not’ built to contribute a few million a year to the general fund,” he said.

Riske said he’d like to see the state opened up to growing industrial help and even marijuana crops.

Finally, I asked the candidates about the ballot measures:

Measure 1: This is a constitutional amendment which would require that lawmakers living in their legislative districts. Both of the candidates support it.

Measure 2: This is a constitutional amendment which would open up the state’s Foundation Aid Stabilization Fund for more spending. Nelson said he supports it, though he feels the language of the measure is a “little loose.” Riske says he opposes it, wondering if the loose language Nelson referred to might make it possible to raid the fund to bail out teacher pensions.

Measure 3: This one is Marsy’s Law, which supporters describe as putting victims’ rights in the state constitution. Both candidates oppose it with Nelson calling it “overkill” and Riske deriding it as a “nickname bill.”

Measure 4: This is a big tax hike on cigarettes and tobacco products. Nelson said he supports it though the language in the measure – particularly the parts that direct appropriations – “maybe wouldn’t be the way I’d do it.” Riske said he “vehemently” opposes the measure, particularly because it lumps vaping in with tobacco products for taxation.

Measure 5: This is the medicinal marijuana measure, and both candidates said they support it. Riske added that he was actually on the sponsoring committee for the measure.

Here’s the full audio of the debate:

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and host of the Plain Talk Podcast which you can subscribe to by clicking here.

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