Tomorrow is an important day in North Dakota, although many may not know; or if they do, care. Tomorrow is the primary election day in the state, and while granted the partisan party races are pretty much decided by default, many other important decisions are being made on both a statewide and local basis. The only question that remains is will you care enough to participate in the process? Below are a few examples of what is at stake across the state tomorrow.

Constitutional Measure No. 1 is the only statewide measure on the ballot for consideration. This measure would amend the State Constitution by changing the filing deadline for the submission of initiated measure petitions from 90 days to 120 before a statewide election, and by providing that any challenges regarding measure petitions must be filed with the Supreme Court no later than 75 days before the election.

So why is this a big deal? Quite simply because, whether you support the measure or not, a proposal is before the electorate to change the Constitution. That in and of itself is an important enough reason to get out and vote. Constitutions are the body of fundamental principles or established precedents according to which a state is acknowledged to be governed, and changes to it should not be taken lightly or with only minimal participation from the electorate as a whole.

Some local measures for your consideration include:

  • In West Fargo, voters will decide if their residents as well as visitors to their city will pay 1% more in Sales Tax for infrastructure improvements
  • Burleigh County voters, which includes Bismarck, will determine if a home rule charter to authorize a 1/2 cent sales tax increase to fund a new county jail is necessary
  • Williams, Stark, and Ramsey County voters are being asked to increase their per telephone line 911 fees by $0.50 a month. There may be other counties doing the same thing, but these are what came up while searching local ballots
  • Williston School District residents will determine if a bond is necessary for $34,000,000 to build a new high school plus renovate existing school facilities
  • Several school boards will decide whether to publish their minutes in the official newspaper of the district. This seems like a no-brainer if we want transparency in government, but it is something that needs to be voted on

These are just a few of the ballot issues that came up in a five minute search of the various ballots across the state. You can look up your ballot on the Secretary of State website here, and find out what issues are pressing where you live. What is concerning to me is I most likely invested more time looking up what is on the ballot tomorrow for this story than most people do to see what they are being asked to decide on (if they even bother to show up).

Voters of course will also be asked to decide who will represent them in various local races for city, county, and school boards. There are far too many races to comprehensively highlight here, but a few that jumped out at me were:

  • Mayor Dennis Walaker is running for his third term as the CEO of our state’s largest city. He is being challenged by Brad Wimmer, who has experience on various elected boards in the Fargo area.
  • Despite all the concern generated around Common Core, and much of it is valid, Common Core opponents did not field candidates for school board elections. The reasons for this are not apparent, and there may be several good ones, but with an issue this contentious it is surprising this step was missed. At the same time, I don’t think Pro-Common Core candidates or school board members as a whole should take the lack of Anti-Common Core candidates as sign of widespread support for Common Core in their districts or the state
  • The numbers of uncontested races are actually pretty saddening. Every candidate should have competition, even if they are very successful as politicians, because that competition will only make them better office holders in the end. The Bismarck mayoral race is one example; no one person should simply be able to walk into an office unopposed, especially one presiding over the second largest city in the state
  • Conversely, some races have a respectable number of candidates, but of questionable character to hold a public office. The City of Lincoln is one example. You may recall this is the same city who fired their police chief, Marcel Sim, over allegations which were later found lacking in substantiation, and of which he was cleared of. With this in mind, it should not be surprising that two candidates for city commission (Ervin Fischer and Daniel Raywalt) each have lengthy records which include felony convictions, to include ones involving minors. Oh, and the former chief who Sim replaced, Jonathan Hale, is also running. Certainly Lincoln can do better than this. This is also one example of one city. It would not be surprising if others are out there as well in other races

A few months back I wrote a series of articles about the political party endorsing process. I encouraged all to participate, because the endorsements are ultimately decided by who shows up to vote. Showing up is even more important in Primary and General elections, as we decide who will lead us (especially locally) and how we will be taxed. We also occasionally decide whether changing our fundamental principles is the right thing or not to do. With the advent of early voting, ease of obtaining an absentee ballot, and long hours afforded for polls to be open on Election Day itself, there simply is no longer any excuse why the people of this state should be skipping out on a right so many have defended with their lives.