District 36 representation: Mike Schatz brings political experience, knowledgeNEW ENGLAND — Mike Schatz’ political career is old enough to have a career of its own, but his experience will help balance out the greenness of the two new guys he will serve District 36 with in the upcoming biennium.
By: Katherine Grandstrand, The Dickinson Press
NEW ENGLAND — Mike Schatz’ political career is old enough to have a career of its own, but his experience will help balance out the greenness of the two new guys he will serve District 36 with in the upcoming biennium.
A farm boy from New England, Mike earned a bachelor’s degree in education at Minot State University, eventually coming back to his hometown to teach and farm.
The social studies teacher for New England Public School, he also coached football, taking NEPS to state four times, winning three consecutive championships.
“That was a huge part of my life — the football,” Mike said. “For New England too — the town too. To win three state championships in a row was a big deal at the time.”
Mike retired from teaching in 2005 and became a truck driver for MBI when it was known as Missouri Basin.
“It was quite a shock for me when I went out into the Oil Patch and had to get up at 4:30 in the morning and get ready to go to work,” he said. “And I liked it, I really enjoyed it. That’s what got to me, I looked forward to getting up every morning and going to work.”
Driving truck gave him an appreciation for the dangers of Oil Patch work, Mike said.
“You’re driving a 90-foot truck with a pup on it on icy roads in the fog,” he said. “That’s why we need a four-lane highway on 85.”
He also has a patent for a stake that won’t come up out of the ground accidentally.
He first ran for the Legislature in 1982 and lost. He ran every two years until he won in 1988, only to lose the next election in 1990. He remained active in politics but didn’t seek election until 2008, when Mike, as executive director of the Republican Party, couldn’t find anyone to represent them in District 36.
“The chairman of the party, Gary Emineth, said ‘If nobody runs, you’re running,’” he said.
He even tried to persuade now-Sen. Kelly Armstrong to run, but Armstrong passed on that round.
Mike ended up serving District 36 with former Sen. George Nodland and former Rep. Shirley Meyer in the 2009 and 2011 bienniums.
One day Patti hopes to retire from teaching and join her husband in Bismarck during the session.
She loves the hubbub of it all and would love to be a page or be a part of the process.
In 2013, transportation projects, like widening Highway 85 to four lanes, will be priorities for the Legislature. The time it takes to do studies and prepare for a project can be frustrating, Mike said.
“If every time you build something it takes three years to study it, that’s too long, that’s just too long,” he said.
Mike lives with Patti in their New England home. Three of his four children still live in North Dakota. Amber works for KX in Bismarck, Sarah is a doctor in Jamestown, Nathan works in the oil fields and is based out of New Town. Their son Joshua graduated from the Naval Academy in 2009 and is a U.S. Marine helicopter pilot. He is preparing to move to Hawaii.