Sign of support: Group puts money into Ward County race

Jill Schramm/MDN A yard sign paid for by Brighter Future Alliance stands next to Burdick Expressway East in Minot.

A statewide campaign finance group has taken an interest in the Ward County Commission race, as evidenced by signage popping up around Minot.

Brighter Future Alliance, Bismarck, is funding yard and digital signs endorsing candidates Alan Walter and Jason Olson.

Olson said he was unaware of the endorsement until seeing the signs and is concerned the public may get a wrong impression in seeing his name linked with Walter’s on a single sign.

“I’m happy to have support by people that want to support me, whoever it is, but I don’t want the public thinking that somehow this is a coordinated campaign by Alan Walter and I, which it isn’t at all,” Olson said.

Pat Finken with Brighter Future Alliance confirmed the signs are not part of any coordination by any candidates or campaigns but are an independent expenditure by the alliance, a nonprofit organization.

“We are not concerned about the signs creating a team impression and, if they do, I doubt it is a problem,” Finken added. “Voters are concerned with electing the best possible candidates and, in the coming weeks, our campaign will demonstrate why the Brighter Future Alliance believes Walter and Olson are their best choice.”

The yard signs carry disclaimers that identify the sponsor, but as typical with disclaimers, it is in fine print that is visible only on close inspection.

Walter could not be reached to comment on the signs.

Finken said the Ward County Commission race is the only local elected office in North Dakota that Brighter Future is currently engaged in, although it is tracking a couple of other races.

“The vast majority of our work is in issue and policy development and advancement, but we do, sometimes, take a position in local city, county and legislative elections where we see an opportunity to advance good candidates,” he said. “I am very familiar with both Alan Walter and Jason Olson and feel they would be excellent county commissioners. Their endorsement by the Alliance is based on my personal knowledge of the Minot area, its needs and the track record of these two exceptional public servants.”

Olson is a retired Minot police chief running for his first elected office in Ward County. Walter retired as Public Works director with the City of Minot and has been working with Ackerman-Estvold. Walter previously served as a Ward County commissioner. He also is chairman of the Garrison Diversion Conservancy District and is on the ballot for another four-year term representing Ward County on that board.

Incumbent commissioner John Fjeldahl of Berthold and newcomer Lance Makeef of Minot are the other two candidates in the Ward County Commission race.


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