Plain Talk: Grand Forks Mayor Bochenski talks about public reaction to his stand on UND transgender policy


MINOT, N.D. — “I’ve largely stayed out of that stuff,” Grand Forks Mayor Brandon Bochenski says about national hot-button issues.

He says he’s tried to focus on local issues like public safety and infrastructure during his first term in office.

But when it became public that the University of North Dakota is pursuing a new policy on transgender harassment that could punish people for using the wrong pronouns, and would allow access to sensitive campus facilities such as locker rooms based on the gender a given student or university employee identifies with, Bochenski felt he had to speak out.

“I felt like there was a lack of transparency” in the way the rule was being developed, Bochenski said on this episode of Plain Talk.

“Compelling speech and forcing ideology on our students, our children and our community is abhorrent,” he wrote in a Facebook post touting a letter from the North Dakota Catholic Conference objecting to the policy.

How have people responded to his public statements? “It’s been mean on both sides,” he said.

Also on this episode, Jim Hobart, a pollster with Public Opinion Strategies, talks about a new survey of North Dakotans showing strong support for coal mining, coal-fired power, and carbon capture. Hobart says that despite the often divisive national debate about energy and carbon capture, North Dakotans show strong consensus support for coal and carbon capture projects, even across partisan lines.

Read the polling memo below.

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