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Dickinson state representative moves to Fargo

FARGO - Nancy Johnson, who has represented Dickinson at the North Dakota House of Representatives for almost 15 years, has moved out of the district for the last year of her term.

Fellow legislators, though, say they aren't concerned about Johnson maintaining a relationship with the area.

"She knows the issues," said state Sen. Rich Wardner, who also represents District 37.

Fellow Rep. Vicky Steiner echoed Wardner.

"Nancy is very committed to serving her district," she said.

"She knows the issues and is very active with her interim committee work."

Johnson, a Republican, has represented Dickinson in the House since 1999, and said she isn't running again when her current term is up. Last month she moved to Fargo, where she built a home.

She still owns a home in Dickinson, but isn't residing there anymore. With that and co-owning a company, she said she still has many connections to the area.

Johnson is on legislative interim committees on economic impact and health care reform, and will leave office before the next legislative session in 2015.

"My knowledge base is still predominantly Dickinson and that area, so when I go to interim meetings that's my focus," she said.

"It's not like Dickinson will miss representation at votes because there will be no votes between now and when my term will end."

North Dakota requires legislators be qualified voters to run for office, which means they must have lived in their district for the 30 days leading up to Election Day, said John Bjornson, assistant code revisor for the Legislative Council.

Qualifications for legislators are set out in the state constitution, so a constitutional amendment would be required to change them, he said.

Johnson isn't alone in living outside her district -- the Grand Forks Herald reported earlier this month that two of the city's representatives live outside of the districts they represent.

Johnson said she moved to Fargo for personal reasons.

If she's needed in Dickinson, she'll make the trip, she said.

"I told my fellow legislators if there's a particular meeting or something I need to be at, I will be there."