ND Democrats seek removal of District 4’s Rep. Terry Jones from ballot
Democrats seek removal of District 4 legislator from ballot
NEW TOWN – District 4 Democrats are challenging the residency of a New Town legislator seeking re-election. A lawsuit was filed with the North Dakota Supreme Court this week by Kenton Onstad, chairman of the District 4 Democratic-NPL Party, asking for the removal of Rep. Terry Jones, R-New Town, from the Nov. 3 ballot.
North Dakota law requires candidates for the state Legislature to be a resident for one year prior to the election. Democrats argue that Jones is currently a registered agent of Jones Brothers Enterprises, LLC in Wyoming, and to hold that position, he repeatedly has asserted he resides in Wyoming. Jones this year listed himself as registered agent, which Democrats say identifies him as a Wyoming resident. They also argue Jones owns residential property in Wyoming and lists a legislative phone number with a Wyoming area code. Onstad added that Jones kept a Wyoming license plate until it was noted by the media during the legislative session.
Jones responded he has lived in New Town since 2011 and has voted in the state since 2014. Around 2000, when his younger brother left the family farm incorporated as Jones Brothers Enterprises, he converted the business to a limited liability company and listed himself as registered agent. He said he was unaware of the residency requirement for registered agents when he continued to claim that status after 2011.
“Technically, I was out of step – out of compliance – but it was not intentional,” he said.
Upon discovering the issue, he changed the Wyoming paperwork to list the registered agent as his son, who operates the farm, he said. Jones Brothers Enterprises also has been registered in North Dakota since 2016, with Terry Jones listed as registered agent. The company is engaged as a contractor as well as farm operator, and Jones says it pays income taxes in North Dakota.
Jones said he and his wife lived in rental property until purchasing a home in New Town recently.
“I am real proud of my service to North Dakota,” said Jones, who is seeking his second term in the House. “I love North Dakota, and I am glad to be here.”
Onstad said District 4 Democrats filed with the Supreme Court after Secretary of State Al Jaeger declined to remove Jones’ name from the ballot, stating information already had been sent to counties for ballot printing.
Democrats say the case follows precedent set by the North Dakota Supreme Court after North Dakota Republicans successfully sued to remove Travisia Martin, Democratic-NPL candidate for insurance commissioner, from the ballot last month.
“Residents of District 4 deserve a representative who lives in and respects their community, and North Dakotans deserve legislators who live in our state,” said Kylie Oversen, Democratic-NPL Party chairwoman, in a news release. “Jones is showing a flagrant disregard for North Dakota’s Constitution and the people who live in District 4, which includes the Fort Berthold Reservation. His name should be stricken from the ballot, so voters can elect someone to pass North Dakota laws who is actually willing to follow them.”
Democrat candidates are Thomasina Mandan of New Town and Hunter Andes of Makoti for the House and Lisa Finley-DeVille of Mandaree for Senate.
Jones is running on the Republican ticket with Rep. Clayton Fegley, R-Berthold, and Sen. Jordan Kannianen, R-Stanley.