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Getting involved: Candidates give advice to political hopefuls during DSU panel

Press Photo by Nadya Faulx Sen. Rich Wardner, R-Dickinson, speaks to an audience while Democratic Ag Commissioner candidate Ryan Taylor looks on Tuesday at Dickinson State University. A group of politicians conducted a panel for political enthusiasts.

Local politicians and candidates doled out advice to future political hopefuls during a panel at Dickinson State University on Tuesday night.

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“You’ve got to be involved in your community,” North Dakota Senate Majority Leader Rich Wardner said. “You gotta show people you care.”

Wardner, R-Dickinson, along with Democratic Agriculture Commissioner candidate Ryan Taylor, and Democratic state Legislature candidates Erin Hill-Oban and Mandy Kubik, put policy aside at a “Leading the Future” panel hosted by Dickinson State University’s League of Political Scientists. All discussed how they got their legislative starts, and encouraged the fresh-faced DSU students and more senior audience members in attendance to join in the political process.

Taylor, minus his distinctive cowboy hat, said he got his start early in his school’s Saddle and Sirloin Club.

“I thought I’d go no higher,” he said — and stressed that it’s never too early to begin a career in politics.

“As a young person, I’d say don’t let anyone say you can’t do anything,” Taylor said.

Hill-Oban, a senate candidate for District 35, got her start stuffing mailings for a former ag commissioner candidate and worked on Taylor’s past gubernatorial campaign. The Bismarck politician said in politics, “There’s a place for all of you, even if you have no interest in being a candidate some day.”

The event highlighted the importance of keeping North Dakota’s young population involved in local politics and combating the so-called “brain drain” that sends many up-and-coming professionals seeking opportunity outside of the state.

Kubik, a Dickinson resident running for a District 37 House seat, recounted the story of one of her friends, a doctor with $300,000 in student loans, who now works two jobs in the Twin Cities area to pay off his debt.

“I kinda wonder why he couldn’t work two jobs in North Dakota,” she said. “When I was growing up, there was the buzzword about youth out-migration — North Dakota is exporting its greatest resource, our young people are moving away.’”

Pointing to predictions that the current oil boom will peak around 2039, Kubik said today’s young politicos will be the ones setting the groundwork for future policies.

“There’s a lot of stuff happening here, and what we can do to keep our greatest resource here in North Dakota,” she said. “Whether they’re working in the oilfield or whether they’re working a tech job at Microsoft in Fargo, we need to provide those opportunities to keep people here.”