District 6 offers voters legislative choices
Voters in District 6 will elect a state senator and two members of the House of Representatives in the Nov. 3 general election.
Running on the Republican side are incumbents Shawn Vedaa for the Senate and Dick Anderson for the House. Running for the other House seat currently held by Republican Rep. Craig Johnson is Paul Thomas.
Democratic-NPL candidates are Morris Holen for Senate and Trygve Hammer and Arnold Langehaug for House.
District 6 takes in McHenry, Bottineau and Renville counties.
Senate candidate Morris Holen of Bottineau sees tough decisions ahead for the Legislature.
“I believe the 2021 legislative session will be a time of difficult decision making for funding of all departments and agencies in North Dakota government. I believe that there will need to be some cuts made in certain areas but also strongly believe we must adequately fund infrastructure, K-12 education and rural healthcare, which are so vitally important to the needs of our North Dakota residents and their well being now and in the future. We can and will accomplish this work and place North Dakota on a strong foundation for years to come,” Holen said.
“As a senator I will bring knowledge of business, labor and management from being part owner in a family road construction business for over 30 years to working several years for a civil engineering firm, where I worked with counties, townships and local entities on project development, their funding and completion of those projects,” he said. “I have worked with state and federal agencies on that funding and have extensive knowledge in that area.”
He also worked the past several years as a project coordinator and estimator for a large construction firm. He said he will put his knowledge to work and be the independent and hard-working senator that District 6 needs.
Shawn Vedaa is a Velva small business owner seeking his second term in the Senate.
“The issues that we will face in the 2021 legislative assembly will mainly consist of revenue shortfalls. We must identify the state’s priorities and make sure we fund them as needed. K-12 education, senior citizens and the disabled, in my opinion, should not feel the brunt of the shortfall,” Vedaa said.
“I see attacks at coal and oil from the past continuing into the next biennium, and we need to leave those industries alone as they not only supply the state with a majority of our revenues, they also count for our large number of jobs in western North Dakota. These industries supply our reliable electricity and fuel for our farm equipment, automobiles, heat for homes, businesses, churches and schools. Wind and solar at this point, while important, are not reliable solutions for our state. I don’t ever want to see rolling blackouts in North Dakota,” he said.
Vedaa lists his years of experience running his own business and service on numerous boards that deal with the issues facing rural North Dakota as advantages in continuing to help citizens, farmers, ranchers, businesses, counties and municipalities of District 6.
Dick Anderson, a Willow City farmer, said the state budget will be a main concern in the 2021 session. He said the state has dealt with budget problems twice since 2011, when he was first joined the House.
“It’s because our economy is basically commodity based,” he said. “Long-term, we need to try to figure out a way to broaden our economy some and get some other businesses here that aren’t affected by the commodity prices.”
He also sees challenges for the coal industry, which has been an industry benefiting the state through taxes and stable electricity prices. Minnesota, a major market for North Dakota electricity, has plans to phase out electricity from fossil fuels.
“We have to find another market for our energy,” Anderson said.
Anderson also supports additional funding for schools such as Dakota College at Bottineau to expand training of nurses to serve rural, critical access hospitals. The share of higher education funding necessary to expand those programs is small compared to the gains, he said, noting 82% of nurses graduating from DCB remain in North Dakota.
Anderson, who serves on the House Human Services Committee, has worked on issues related to controlling costs of helicopter ambulance service and the use of and insurance coverage for hyperbaric oxygen therapy in traumatic brain injury. He serves on the Traumatic Brain Injury Council and the Heart of America Medical Center Board in Rugby. He also is on the airport authority in Rugby and has served on the North Central Research Extension Board.
He served a number of years on the Game & Fish Advisory Committee and has worked on issues related to hunting and fishing as well as energy issues on the House Natural Resources Committee. He has served on the All Seasons Water Users Board and the Water Topics Committee in the Legislature.
House candidate Paul Thomas of Velva said he knows the district, having lived in McHenry County much of his life and having been involved in the district’s main industry of agriculture.
“I have been involved with many civic and agriculture organizations to advance policies locally, on the state level and federal,” he said, noting he has served in leadership roles on many boards. He added his experience as a farm business owner, in raising a family and seeing the educational needs, along with serving as Velva city commissioner, have given him an understanding of the local needs of towns and rural areas in District 6.
“I have been through first-hand the challenges the elderly face in our region with my Mom and Dad both having health-related issues late in life, requiring hospital visits, assisted living care and eventually long-term care.,” he said.
In the 2021 legislative session, he sees budgeting during the economic downturn as a major issue.
“It is important that we prioritize the needs of our state and where government has a role in addressing these needs. Some needs of the state will need to be pushed down the road if possible. For example, repair of roads or equipment versus replacement. We have to be careful to keep government spending on needs not wants,” Thomas said.
He also believes there are agricultural issues the Legislature must address.
“One is the oversight of our grain buyers and warehouses, which was moved from the PSC to the Ag Department last session. Commissioner Goehring and an interim ag committee have been looking at potential changes to address some of the problems that have occurred with farmers not receiving payment for their grain in the case of an insolvency,” Thomas said.
He supports changing the timeline for buyers to pay farmers for grain delivered from 45 to 20 days. He also would look at bonding requirements for warehouses and buyers to make those bonds more effective.
Another major issue will be education, he said.
“Ideas and discussions around changes in education to facilitate changes in the workforce and how education is delivered have been talked about for some time. I believe the effects of COVID-19 will accelerate those discussions. I intend to be active in those discussions as I believe education of our youth to be a necessary investment in our future, not a cost. Issues such as spending money on buildings versus distant learning technology is an important idea to look at, but I do not believe totally walking away from our past system of teachers in the classroom with the students should ever be totally replaced,” Thomas said.
House candidate Trygve Hammer is a Velva educator.
A 1985 graduate of Velva High School. Hammer served as a nuclear power machinist mate in the Navy, later graduating in 1990 from the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis with a bachelor’s degree in chemistry.
Hammer completed flight training at Naval Air Training Command in Florida and was designated a Naval Aviator in September of 1992. He completed two fleet tours and a deployment and was assigned as a company officer and leadership instructor at the Naval Academy. He left active duty for the Marine Corps Reserves in June 2001.
In the Marine Corps Reserve, Hammer completed a combat deployment to Iraq in 2003 as an infantry weapons platoon commander and battalion forward air controller for Third Battalion, Twenty-third Marines. Other assignments included duty as assistant Marine attache at the U.S. Embassy in Rome, Italy, and as a trainer for general-level staffs deploying to Afghanistan and Iraq at the MAGTF Staff Training Program in Quantico, Virginia. When not engaged in Marine Corps Reserve duties, Hammer was an airline pilot, a defense contractor and a security consultant. He retired from the Marine Corps Reserve in 2010 and returned to Velva in 2016. He taught 7-12 grade science at TGU Granville for three years and is now doing freelance work in content creation and curriculum design.
Hammer is currently the commandant of the John M. Joyce Detachment #1445 of the Marine Corps League in Minot and youth outreach coordinator for the Department of North Dakota, Marine Corps League, of which he is a former junior vice commandant. He is also a member of the Joseph I. Weller Post 39 of the American Legion in Velva and chairman of the District 6 Democratic-NPL Party.
Hammer said the 2021 legislative session will meet in a fiscally austere environment.
“We can pretend this is due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but our own poor assumptions about factors both within and beyond our control are also to blame. COVID-19 merely ripped the bandages off of each place where the system lacked resilience,” he said. “Legislators may be tempted to indiscriminately cut or freeze investments in education, infrastructure or social services, but that is exactly how we become even less prepared for the next shock. Instead, we need to support education at all levels and empower our cities, townships, and counties so people in Anamoose or Upham need not worry about whether the water tower will function through another hard winter, and folks in Willow City don’t have to climb the tallest tree in a tin-foil suit in order to get a decent cell-phone signal.
“I have spent decades planning and executing missions in austere environments with limited resources, and I recognize that good ideas are not wed to any particular ideology. I am fully invested in the Marine Corps culture of ‘officers eat last.’ A legislator from that culture puts citizens and political subdivisions ahead of his or her own position or power. An officers-eat-last legislator listens to those whose boots are on the ground and makes decisions based on ‘recon pull’ rather than ‘command push.’ That is exactly the kind of servant-leader I would be for District 6,” he said.
Arnold Langehaug, a House candidate from Glenburn, sees additional issues coming before the Legislature due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Schools are in session with a daunting task of keeping their students and staff safe and healthy while doing what they do best – providing their students with an education in ways that had to be created in order to reach every student within their district. Long-term care facility staff are keeping our loved ones safe while trying to stay healthy themselves in order to do their job. I feel that the state needs to make sure that such facilities are given adequate funds to cover expenses for supplies needed to ensure everyone’s safety during this pandemic,” Langehaug said. “Emergency services, fire departments, police and sheriff’s departments, ambulance services are all experiencing overload during this time. We need to make sure that these services also are adequately funded in order that they are protected to the utmost extent.
“In addition,” he said, “sheriff’s departments need upgrades to their communication systems that work with the State Radio system. Aging infrastructure needs have to be addressed. Statewide, bridges and waterways need to be improved, including flood protection funding.”
Langehaug said he has gained a vast amount of knowledge regarding the needs of counties while serving as a Renville County commissioner for the past 10 years. He also has experience serving on committees and boards such as Renville 911 Advisory Board, Souris Basin Planning Council, Renville County Park Board, Renville County Job Development, Renville County Planning and Zoning, North Star Human Service Zone and First District Health Unit.
“I feel that the experience that I’ve gained will enable me to bring issues to the Legislature in a way to respect and honor, to the best of my ability, the concerns of my District 6 constituents,” he said.