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Lefor to seek District 37 Republican nomination

Mike Lefor

Dickinson businessman and Park Board President Mike Lefor announced Monday he’s seeking the Republican nomination to represent District 37 in the North Dakota House of Representatives.

Lefor has been the district Republican chair since 2011 and is now looking to take a more active role. The seat is being vacated by Rep. Nancy Johnson, who will retire after serving in the House since 1999.

Lefor said his community experience — as president of the park board, on the St. Joseph’s Hospital and Health Center and as a past member of the city’s planning and zoning commission — has given him a “tremendous education” and the House of Representatives would be the next step in his community service.

District 37 represents much of the city of Dickinson except for its east, south and west edges. The district runs from the city’s northern limits south to Broadway Street and from 23rd Avenue West to 25th Avenue East.

Like existing legislators, Lefor said it’s important that all legislators understand what’s happening in western North Dakota so impacted communities get the funds they need to deal with growth.

“I would like to be able to network with other legislators, (and) work very hard — I’m a very hard worker — to let them know exactly what we’re facing in this part of the world,” he said.

One idea he has is an “infrastructure bank” for municipalities to borrow from to meet their needs.

Whether it’s run by the state’s Bank of North Dakota or another entity, the bank would lend money to cities like Dickinson, Williston and Watford City based on their needs.

It’s part of his philosophy on the state sharing some of the risk-taking in this volatile time for small western communities.

“The municipalities should not have to bear all the risk of this unprecedented growth,” Lefor said. “The state is reaping the benefits from the oil revenue and that should be shifted back to the states.”

Johnson said Lefor is knowledgeable about issues that matter to the community and state right now, like oil impacts and property taxes.

Lefor said in a release his focus is on ensuring property tax relief for citizens of the state. His other priorities include housing, health care, law enforcement, education and transportation.

Current District 37 Sen. Rich Wardner is on the same page as he looks toward the next biennium.

“The No. 1 thing is to make sure that we get the resources back to the oil-impacted areas to take care of the needs out here — and there are still a lot of needs,” he said.

District 37 Rep. Vicky Steiner said she’s “thrilled” at the experience Lefor would bring from the park board and as a small business owner — he’s also president of Dickinson-based DCI Credit Services Inc.

His background has given him first-hand knowledge of how oil-related growth has impacted Dickinson, Steiner said.

Parks and Recreation Director James Kramer said taking the next step politically has always been a goal for Lefor, and Kramer thinks he would be good in the House.

“He’s just very professional, very open-minded,” Kramer said.

“He didn’t come to the (park) board with a specific issue to work on — he’s been really good at encompassing everything that we do.”

The nominating convention will be held in February, leading up to the June 10 primary and Nov. 4 general election.

Johnson said Lefor reached out to her before announcing his intention to run for her seat.

“I think he did his homework before he made his decision to run,” she said.

“It’s good to know what you’re getting into.” 

Press Managing Editor Dustin Monke contributed to this report.