Our View: Four for ND state offices
In races for four state constitutional offices on the North Dakota ballot, the best choices are incumbent Julie Fedorchak for public service commissioner, incumbent Kelly Schmidt for treasurer, incumbent Kirsten Baesler for superintendent of public instruction and newcomer Jon Godfread for insurance commissioner. There is no significant contest for state auditor, which also is on the ballot.
Fedorchak is among the most conscientious, fair-minded PSC members since Susan Wefald was a commissioner. She is seeking a full six-year term, having served a partial term since 2013. A student of the complexities of utility regulation in all its facets, she strives for balance between ratepayers and companies' needs, and between environmental concerns and the mandates of development. She has been a leader in attempting to shore up the PSC's staff as energy development increased the agency's workload.
Democratic challenger Marlo Hunte-Beaubrun has not made a case that Fedorchak should be replaced. Libertarian candidate Tom Skadeland believes the "free market," as he defines it, is the answer to all regulatory challenges. It's not.
Baesler has been an outstanding superintendent of public instruction during a time of rapidly changing educational priorities and a political climate that made her job doubly difficult. She has negotiated the minefield professionally, all the time keeping her eye on the prize: better educational outcomes for students. An experienced educator and administrator, she's earned re-election.
Opponent Joe Chiang, a math and history teacher, does not measure up in light of Baesler's exemplary service.
Godfread's experience with the Greater North Dakota Chamber gives him the edge for insurance commissioner over Democrat Ruth Buffalo and certainly Libertarian Nick Bata, whose recent public remarks disqualify him for public office. Godfread's work as the chamber's vice president of government affairs has afforded him unique opportunities to understand the needs of large and small businesses, including the ever more complicated health insurance market.
Schmidt is seeking a fourth term as treasurer, and she's earned it. The office has become more important than ever as revenues from the energy boom were handled and managed there. She's done a good job with her constitutional responsibilities, and she has worked well with other agencies and offices involved in the state's changing financial landscape.
Democratic challenger Tim Mathern is one of the most dedicated, thoughtful and articulate senators in the state Senate (since 1987), but his platform is dominated by his determination to eliminate the treasurer's office and transfer its duties. It won't happen. It's a thin reed on which to hang a campaign.
Libertarian business owner Eric Olson is of an ideological persuasion that has no purchase historically in North Dakota, and has none today.