JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — Election Thoughts

I’m stuck at home for a few days nursing some bruised-up ribs and a cut-up hand after a tumble in the Bad Lands, but I can type, so I’ll a share a few political thoughts with you in the days leading up to the June 11 North Dakota primary election.


First, you need to watch this short two-minute powerful video produced by Trygve Hammer’s campaign for Congress. Be sure and turn on the sound. It’s as good a piece as I’ve seen in all my years in politics, and if you’re as old as I am, you’ll love the last scene. Share this with everyone. And send him some money. His opponent after next week will be either Rick Becker or Julie Fedorchak. He can beat either one with enough resources, if this video is any indication.

The Democratic-NPL Party, as weak as it is, has had some pretty good candidates for Congress since Earl Pomeroy left the scene, but Trygve Hammer might just be the best of them. Be sure to subscribe to his e-mail newsletter to keep up with his campaign.


I’ve written earlier about the bloody battle between Kelly Armstrong and Tammy Miller, a battle I’m pretty sure Armstrong hates because he’s generally a pretty nice guy — even if he does have a goofy hairdo. I don’t know if Miller is a pretty nice gal because I’ve never met her, but I doubt it.

I noticed something Tuesday morning that kind of surprised me. I’ve been getting these slick Kelly Armstrong for governor mailers in my mailbox, and I noticed on the latest one, up in the corner, it says, “Paid for by the North Dakota Republican Party.”

Yeah, that shouldn’t be unusual because he’s the candidate endorsed by the party at its state convention. But I think it is kind of unusual in a primary, especially since his opponent in the race is the sitting Republican lieutenant governor of North Dakota.

He’s been running some pretty tough TV ads as well, beating up on Miller, although I’m not sure the party is paying for those.

And I’m not quite sure why the Republican Party is doing this because Armstrong doesn’t need their money. He’s about the best financed candidate for governor since, well, since Jack Dalrymple and John Hoeven and Doug Burgum. He can certainly afford to pay for all those mailers and TV ads from his campaign coffers or his own pocket.

Now, Miller’s rich, too — it seems like that’s one of the Republican rules these days) — and she’s pretty much paying for her campaign out of her own pocket, and she’s been endorsed by Burgum, who as governor, should be the titular head of the Republican Party in North Dakota. But apparently he’s not, in this new administration at party headquarters.

So, I’m not sure what’s going on here. While Armstrong doesn’t need someone else to pay for his ads, it seems as if the “party bosses,” led by Sandi Sanford, wife of the former Lt. Gov. Brent, who stepped down so his wife could lead an overthrow of the party that endorsed him in the first place, is just trying to send a message to Burgum: “Get out of here. The sooner the better. And take your people with you. We’re in charge now.”

These kinds of things happen when a party has an embarrassment of riches. Dang, I hope the Democrats get their shit together one of these days.

Property taxes

I don’t know Fred Evans from Stanley, hometown of Democratic-NPL Governor candidate Merrill Piepkorn, but I learned some stuff from him this Tuesday morning that I had never thought of before. He wrote a letter to the editor of the Minot Daily News that sheds a whole new perspective on the proposed ballot measure to eliminate property taxes in North Dakota, which is not on the ballot next week but likely will be in November.

Read this:

Consider facts about property taxes

“I’m Fred Evans, chairman of the board for Brookbank Township, and I’d like to share some important facts about property taxes in Mountrail County, North Dakota, which may be similar to the situation in your area.

“The primary concern often revolves around property taxes on our homes, but there’s a much larger picture to consider. In Mountrail County, Marathon Oil has a sizable gas plant south of Stanley along ND Highway 8, with an assessed value of $5,080,700.00, making it the highest on the list of centrally assessed properties from our tax office. This significant value brings substantial revenue into our county. By comparison, the total taxable value of all homes and commercial properties in Stanley is $13,213,640.00.

“Here are the facts: In Mountrail County, locally assessed properties (residential and commercial) have a total taxable value of $88,092,319. Centrally assessed properties, including pipelines, railroads, and large facilities like gas plants, have a total taxable value of $78,742,686, accounting for 47.2% of the total.

“The largest percentage of our property taxes is not paid by individual homeowners but by centrally assessed properties, a fact many North Dakotans may not be aware of. Additionally, commercial properties, which are locally assessed, also make up a significant percentage, not just homes and land.

“Opposing property taxes is fundamentally misguided. It’s time to wake up, North Dakota! Here’s why:

  • Losing Local Control. Eliminating property taxes would mean losing our ability to manage and control local funding.
  • Fairness. Property taxes are a relatively fair way to distribute the tax burden.”


“The largest percentage of our property taxes is not paid by individual homeowners …”

I guess I should have known that, but I didn’t think about it. I wasn’t planning to vote to eliminate property taxes, and I wouldn’t sign their petition but now I have a way better reason for feeling that way. Thank you, Fred.

Leave a Reply