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Other Views: North Dakota tax chief should not step down

North Dakota's appointed tax commissioner, Ryan Rauschenberger, should not resign because he is struggling with alcohol abuse. Calls for him to do so make no sense because, no matter what he does, his name will be on the ballot in November. The d...

North Dakota’s appointed tax commissioner, Ryan Rauschenberger, should not resign because he is struggling with alcohol abuse. Calls for him to do so make no sense because, no matter what he does, his name will be on the ballot in November. The deadline to exit the ballot has passed. The ballot is fixed and will be certified in days.
Thus, even if Rauschenberger did step down, North Dakotans, who tend to vote overwhelmingly for Republican candidates, could in effect elect him in November to the office he resigned months before.
Of course, in that admittedly bizarre scenario, a newly elected Rauschenberger could decline to serve. But the voters will have spoken anyway. Furthermore, the governor would appoint a commissioner if (again a bizarre scenario) Rauschenberger declined the voters’ mandate. Tax office leadership would be back to square one.
(All of the above would be moot in the unlikely outcome the Democratic candidate wins.)
Rauschenberger is on the ballot. His personal problems have made headlines. He has been candid about his lapses in judgment. He’s in alcohol treatment and intends to return to the campaign trail when treatment is done. He’s on an unpaid leave of absence.
By all accounts, 31-year-old Rauschenberger has done a good job in the tax office. Prior to his appointment, he was deputy tax commissioner, and in that job did well, also.
Resignation is not the best option for Rauschenberger, his political party or the voters of North Dakota. It’s not the fair option, either.
Every North Dakota family has been touched in some way by alcohol abuse and the heartache that can come with it. Therefore, it would be wise for Rauschenberger’s Democratic opponent and North Dakota Democratic Party officials to tread carefully - and with a generous measure of sensitivity and decency - regarding the commissioner’s circumstances.
Meanwhile, Rauschenberger should not heed calls to resign. He’s on the ballot. He plans to resume his campaign. Voters know the situation, and certainly will know more before November. Let them decide.

The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead’s Editorial Board formed this opinion.

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