Meet the candidate: John Pretzer running for District 39 House seat

John Pretzer, a public school administrator in Scranton, North Dakota, recently announced his candidacy for a House seat in the Legislative Assembly's 39th District.

John Pretzer (2).jpg

SCRANTON, N.D. — Scranton Public School Superintendent and High School Principal John Pretzer recently announced that he is entering the Republican Primary for a House seat in North Dakota’s 39th District.

In an exclusive interview with The Press, Pretzer said his interest in politics runs deep. He noted that as far back as when he began his bachelor’s degree program in history from Minot State University through his career in education as a high school social studies teacher, politics has remained an interest.

“As a school leader and administrator for the past twenty-six years, I have actively participated in the legislative process. This included corresponding with legislators, testifying on bills and directly participating in legislation from bill draft to passage,” he said. “A highlight of my teaching experience was always taking students to our State Capital so they could experience our legislative process in action.”

Pretzer gave his positions on some of the most pressing issues facing North Dakota legislators. Approximately one year ago a bill to prevent biological males from competing in female k-12 sports, and vice versa, passed the North Dakota Legislative Assembly 69-25 in the House and 27-20 in the Senate. Gov. Doug Burgum vetoed the legislation, claiming the North Dakota High School Activities Association’s hormone requirements for transgender athletes were sufficient to allow fairness in competition. The House passed a measure to override his veto, which failed in the Senate.

Pretzer said Burgum was wrong to veto the bill, and that he would have voted with the majority of the Legislative Assembly to pass it.


“I agree with the legislature on that bill,” Pretzer said. “Males should participate with males and females should participate with females.”

In April of last year the state Senate shot down a House passed measure regarding legalizing marijuana, which Pretzer said he supported.

“The last couple of (legislative) sessions it’s been a hot button topic and I just don’t think North Dakota is ready yet,” he said.

He noted the state spends approximately or 30% of its $17 billion biennial budget on Health and Human Services programs. Pretzer sees many opportunities for improvement with support for mental health issues and substance abuse.

“I think we could do a little better with mental health and the alcohol and drug addiction type of programs,” he said. “As a school administrator I directly see the impacts, particularly on children who come from homes with addictions and mental health problems.”

Pretzer underscored that he’s eager to bring an educator’s perspective to the State Capitol.

“Education is changing. I think that we need more hands on, project based student engagement along with the use of technology. Sometimes as a school administrator bills that come through, you question why they did. I think they passed with good intentions, but the result in the field was not all that positive,” he said.

In 2010 the state passed a constitutional amendment to create a legacy fund, supported by 30% of tax revenues collected on oil and gas. Since 2017, profits from that have been used to support the state's general fund. In February the reports indicated that of the $8.7 billion in the state owned trust fund, $22 million has been invested into North Dakota companies.


Pretzer believes this is unacceptable.

“We should be investing in North Dakota and not 89 other countries, including Russia and communist China,” he said. “And certainly with that amount of money you have to diversify, I have no problem with that. But it's our money, we need to decide how and who we want to invest that money into.”

He also emphasized that, if elected, he will listen to the concerns of constituents.

“The ability to listen to people, understand what obstacles are holding them back and finding solutions is my greatest asset. As a legislator, I will care for the common good while maintaining the conservative values I believe in,” Pretzer said.

Jason O’Day is a University of Iowa graduate, with Bachelor’s Degrees in Journalism and Political Science. Before moving to Dickinson in September of 2021, he was a general news reporter at the Creston News Advertiser in southwest Iowa. He was born and raised in Davenport, Iowa. With a passion for the outdoors and his Catholic faith, he’s loving life on the Western Edge. His reporting focuses on Stark County government and surrounding rural communities.
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