Candidates got in a few jabs during a meet the candidates forum Tuesday at which some candidates didn't show up.
North Dakota gubernatorial candidates Ryan Taylor, the Democratic-NPL Party candidate, and Roland Riemers, the Libertarian candidate, appeared at the forum sponsored by Minot State University's Sociology Club, but Gov. Jack Dalrymple, the Republican seeking re-election, did not attend.
"We've gotten kind of used to it in these kind of forums," said Taylor, a rancher from Towner who is currently serving as the state senate minority leader. Taylor suggested that people access last Friday's gubernatorial debate on YouTube to get Dalrymple's views.
Paul Sorum, running as an Independent for governor, was unable to attend but sent Charles Tuttle to represent his views.
Taylor advocated wise use of the state's resources to address the state's ongoing needs, rather than continuing to build the state's surplus.
Asked how he would handle the dearth of social services in Williston, which has experienced a huge population boom, Taylor said he would ask government agencies to present him with a realistic budget proposal for what they need to get done. He would then present the budget to the Legislature and let the political chips fall where they may.
"North Dakota's growing," said Taylor. "We can't get there for free."
To address rising property taxes, Taylor said he has called for a "Homestead Tax," that would give a $100,000 Homestead Tax Credit for every home owner in the state. The owner of a $300,000 home in Minot would see their property taxes cut by one-third, he said. He said there would also be a renter's tax credit of 15 percent of rent up to $900 per year to help renters.
Taylor also said that the state might need to provide some housing assistance for human services employees or for teachers or other service professions to help them afford to live in areas that have been impacted by the oil boom.
Riemers, the Libertarian candidate, described himself as a "political gadfly" and said he advocates for smaller government and more freedom. He believes the state's oil boom has caused growth that should be slowed down. He advocates for the elimination of the property tax.
Riemers also called for more humane treatment for criminals and ex-cons and making it easier for those people to find a place to live. He said there are too many people placed on registries after they have served their time and he rents to ex-cons in Grand Forks. There are 2.7 million Americans in jail on any given day, said Riemers, which he thinks is too many.
Tuttle, representing Sorum, said Sorum advocates using the state's tax surpluses to lower tax rates on all essential goods and services and put more money in people's pockets to help with the economic upheaval that will likely result from the United States' massive debt load.
The meet the candidates forum also drew candidates in a variety of other races, including both Department of Public Instruction candidates Kirsten Baesler and Tracy Potter.
Baesler, who worked as an educator for more than 20 years as an elementary teacher, vice principal and media specialist in Bismack and has served as president of the Mandan school board, said her experience would help her as state superintendent of public instruction.
Potter, executive director and president of the Fort Abraham Lincoln Foundation and a former state tourism director and former state senator, said his varied experience would also help him do the job of managing a $1.7 million budget and overseeing the state's schools and the state library. Potter advocates care in oil development on public lands and said he would continue to advocate some care if he were elected and had a seat on the state board of university and school lands.
Other candidates who attended the forum included Public Service Commison candidates Joshua Voytek, a Libertarian and Brad Crabtree, a Democrat; Tom Potter, a Democratic candidate for state insurance commissioner, Ross Mushik, a Democratic candidate for state treasurer, District 38 House of Representatives candidates Dan Ruby, a Republican, and Democrats Robert Kibler and Mike Rose; Shelly Weppler, a candidate for Ward County Commissioner.