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Dickinson man announces run for District 37 seat

Dean Rummel is seeking the endorsement of District 37 Republicans for the North Dakota Senate.

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Dean Rummel, pictured above, is seeking the endorsement of District 37 Republicans for the North Dakota Senate. (Contributed / Dean Rummel)

Following last week’s retirement announcement from North Dakota Senate Majority Leader Rich Wardner, former president of TMI Systems Corp. Dean Rummel says he is throwing his hat in the ring in an announced run for the vacant seat.

In an interview with The Dickinson Press, Rummel formally announced that he will seek the endorsement of District 37 Republicans for the North Dakota Senate at the District Convention on Jan. 3, in which the party will nominate candidates for both House seats and the soon to be vacated Senate seat. Wardner announced Wednesday, Dec. 15, he won’t run next year to retain his seat after three decades of service in the legislature dating back to 1998.

Rummel, a life-long Dickinson native, has served as treasurer of District 37 Republicans for 36 years. After retiring from his full-time position, the decision to run for the North Dakota Senate came down, according to Rummel, to timing.

“There’s a lot of interesting things going on in the state of North Dakota. I certainly want to see if we can have an impact there,” Rummel said. “(In) western North Dakota, it’s just phenomenal what’s happening here… We got oil, we got ag, we got manufacturing — we got a lot of things going in this area. And so, I want to be able to represent them well is what I hope to do.”

Rummel said that he and Wardner have similar political views and platforms, notably their views as it relates to education and business — both men having previously served in positions in both industries. Wardner is a former football coach and math teacher whereas Rummel, a graduate from Trinity High School and Dickinson State University, served on the Dickinson Public School Board for 11 years and as president for nine years. Wardner was involved in business via the Dickinson Area Chamber of Commerce, while Rummel retired from TMI in 2017 after serving 37 years at the company.

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“So the similarities are probably very, very similar. If I can serve as well as he has, I would be delighted because that guy has served our community so very well. He’s represented us and he truly did care about people. But I have been working with him through the Republican Party for the last 30 years… So these are hard shoes to fill, believe me,” he noted. “As I look back, all of these people had such a huge impact on our infrastructure, on Dickinson, western North Dakota and the whole state of North Dakota. So those are big shoes to fill. I have things that I have to learn — no question. But I’m certainly willing to do that.”

Rummel believes that his current chair role on the North Dakota Education Fact-Finding Commission has also prepared him for his next political move. The North Dakota Education Fact-Finding Commission is a three-commissioner board that’s tasked with reviewing cases and settling union contracts between educators and school boards. With this role, Rummel said he has been at every major school district in North Dakota from Fargo, Grand Forks, Williston, Minot, Bismarck to Dickinson.

To follow in Wardner’s footsteps, Rummel said he hopes to bring a civil manner to the Senate floor.

“I think what we have forgotten about is the art of compromise. And I don't know how we evolved in politics to bullying. We’ve got to a point where the only way we conduct business in politics is to bully each other, and I do not like that. I think we should be courteous; we should return to a more civil type (of) communication and learn the art of compromise again. I think that is so much needed in this country right now because we're on polar opposites. You're either way to the left (or) way to the right, there's no in between anymore. And that, to me, doesn't make any sense," he said. "What example are we showing the next generations by how we're conducting ourselves on national levels? We certainly don't want to do that on a state level, or a local level or any level. Because we don't allow bullying in our schools; we don't allow bullying in business. Why do we allow it in politics? That doesn't make any sense.”

The lack of behavioral health services in southwestern North Dakota is a “severe problem,” Rummel noted, adding that the process for law enforcement agencies to send people to Jamestown is a heavy demand of often sparse resources.

Another major issue the state is facing is growing a skilled workforce.

“We have a lot of jobs that are available, and we just still don't have enough people to fill those jobs. So how can we work together to continue to grow that skilled workforce to fill those needs? So whatever we can do there would be absolutely marvelous,” he said.

In light of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, Rummel said that public safety is another hot-button issue he’d like to tackle, which he said extends to law enforcement.

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“We've kind of lost respect (for) whatever reason for law enforcement. I look at all of the events that are in the news every day and in the papers every day, and I think the common thing is that if they would have just listened to what the law enforcement officer was asking them to do, all of those really bad situations wouldn't be so bad,” he said, adding, “… The safest place in this country used to be churches and schools? Those aren't safe havens. And so what are we doing differently? What do we need to change? What can we change to make those better than how do we return to where we trust our law enforcement? And our scientists? We don't trust science anymore. We go to Facebook and listen to whatever is out there.

“... Now, I'm going to be the person to say there is no profession that's perfect — law enforcement, scientists, teachers. We have challenges in all of those areas. But the majority that we're dealing with, we should trust.”

As North Dakota remains one of the leading states in the nation for energy-production, including oil, natural gas and wind, Rummel said he’s hopeful at the opportunity to work with other legislators on maintaining those industries while addressing global warming and climate change. Other principles Rummel said he was an advocate for include protection of the Second Amendment and being anti-abortion.

Serving as treasurer for the Dickinson Rural Fire District for 14 years and as a member of the Dickinson Rural and City Fire Departments and Rescue Squad, Rummel said his background in various areas throughout his life will help guide him if elected to the Senate.

Rummel also currently serves on the TMI Board of Directors and is the president of Badlands Crime Stoppers Board. Rummel and his wife Danita along with their three sons will look toward the June primary. If Rummel runs unopposed and District 37 elects Rummel in November, he will assume office Dec. 1, 2022.

“My entire life has been in Dickinson and I've had great opportunities. I certainly want to give back what has been given to me. It's my time… to pay it forward,” he added.

Jackie Jahfetson is a former reporter for The Dickinson Press.
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