Every two years, the District 36 Republicans are required to elect new officers for Chair, Vice Chair and Secretary/Treasurer. This year’s turnout marked a stark difference from those of previous meetings, as the District 36 reorganizational meeting Saturday featured overwhelming attendance and a constituency expressing 'disappointment’ with state GOP leadership.
The widely attended meeting featured a scheduled change in leadership and a renewed dedication to adherence to the Republican party platform, with many calling for a return to real conservative ideologies.
The meeting, held at the Henry Biesiot Activities Center in Dickinson, featured candidates for the three District 36 Republican Party seats. Businessman and Army veteran Andrew “Kord” Kordonowy was elected chair over candidate Duane Urlacher; Kari Lynn Roller was elected vice-chair over candidate John Odermann; and Aliesha Simons was elected secretary and treasurer over candidate Marlene Kouba.
“I am humbled to be selected. The fact that so many people are getting active in our district and are striving to stay informed about politics is amazing. The sheer number of people, the resolve toward conservative values, and the participation at our local district is a power that resonates throughout the state,” Kordonowy said. “We need to modernize communications. More email versus letters, a more active social media presence and more presentations with our legislators to support the work they do at the capital.”
As District 36 Chairman, Kordonowy promised to uphold conservative values, principals and to establish a platform that brings younger conservative voters into the fold. Speaking to his role as party chairman for the district he said it was about transparency.
“I see that I am to lead through action. I need to keep our Republicans informed, support our legislators by being a conduit for communication, and maintain transparency to uphold the confidence of those that select our community leaders,” he said.
The son of a rancher, Kordonowy was born and raised in Belfield, ND, before attending Dickinson State University in the pursuit of a BS in Math and a BS in Computer Science.
In 2004, Kordonowy joined the US Army and served in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom during his five years of service. Since 2014, he has been the President of Cerberus Security, LLC., a Dickinson based commercial and residential security company.
Kordonowy said politics was the means to make a difference, and spoke of his initial foray into the political sphere as the first step in getting the government we need.
“One day I just woke up and told my wife that I need to be more active in the community. I shouldn’t complain about things unless I actively take steps to fix them,” Kordonowy said. “I am a big proponent of the saying, ‘We get the government we deserve,’ and I decided that I would be part of the solution and strive everyday to make things better for my kids, my community and my country.”
For Kordonowy, being an active citizen in the legislative process is as he explained, a continuation of the oath he swore during his service in the military — to support and defend the constitution.
“I have taken an active role on legislation; providing oral testimony on numerous bills and resolutions in support of our legislators at the capital,” he said in his speech at the meeting. “Our legislators have it rough in the swamp of Bismarck and our presence and support helps them make it through session. We are incredibly blessed to have such transparency and access to our elected representatives. We must all take advantage of that.”
As the GOP’s ideological split reverberates across the U.S., the constituency of one North Dakota District are calling on the resignation of their representative for a voting record they say does not reflect the party’s platform, ideology and expectation — an action that is being considered in other districts.
A discontent District 24 Republican Party say they are displeased with the current GOP party leadership and the voting record of their elected representative. This week, a vote to censure Rep. Dwight Kiefert was passed in formal resolution during a republican district meeting and was based on Kiefert’s “consistent votes against party principles.” A move that some believe will embolden other districts to follow suit.
Kiefert, according to the American Conservative Union’s lifetime rating, holds a 55% conservative voting record.
District 24’s constituency said they voted for the censure after Kiefert’s vote to expel former Rep. Luke Simons of District 36.
The resolution outlines Kiefert’s “support of the, first ever in the nation, expulsion of a fellow legislator without due process,” and for “failing to exercise the integrity and diligence expected when voting and representing District 24 Republicans.”
The censure further outlines concerns with Kiefert’s vote in the Simons expulsion, calling it a vote “without due process of law,” “without evidence” and “without following adopted rules of procedures,” which they believe “caused irreparable damage to the voters of District 36, the party and the constitutions of North Dakota and the United States.”
Kordonowy commenting on the decision of District 24, said that censure while a valid option, should only be used as a last resort.
“The role of chairman is to promote conservative thought, to recruit and develop new leaders in my area, as well as, support our republican candidates and legislators,” Kordonowy said. “Primarily, my duties include preserving the republican party platform. I will help provide transparency to the people and inform our district members to use censure only as a resort for those that stray too far away from the party platform.”