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North Dakota voters to decide high-profile Republican primaries Tuesday

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North Dakota voters to decide high-profile Republican primaries Tuesday


Will some higher-profile statewide races lead to more people voting in North Dakota’s primary election?

Secretary of State Michael Howe hopes so. “Certainly, a lot of money has been spent,” Howe said.

North Dakotans have been getting fliers in the mail and ads on TV, radio and the internet especially in two races — the Republican races for governor and U.S. House.

Some districts also have competitive races for seats in the Legislature.

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Those races will determine who is on the ballot in November. But for many local offices, Tuesday’s election is the last word.

“This is the only chance voters have to pick who’s going to lead their city, who’s going to lead their school board,” Howe said. “That’s why the June primary is so very important.”

Election Day is Tuesday but early voting began last week in some cities.

David Demarais of Fargo, a veteran election official, said Friday that so far turnout had been “disappointing,” as usual, being comparable to early voting in other primary elections.

He was happy with how the election system was working, with voters having the choice between a traditional paper ballot and an “express ballot” that uses a touchscreen and helps voters avoid errors but still produces a paper ballot.

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Election workers assist a voter June 7, 2024, during early voting at the Fargodome.

Jeff Beach / North Dakota Monitor

“The work that has gone into this election is really great,” Demarais said.

He was working at the Fargodome, where early voting coincided with the Happy Harry’s RibFest.

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Jessica Lawrence of Fargo came for RibFest on Friday and stayed for the voting.

She said U.S. House was the race she was most interested in and voted for Cara Mund.

Republican voters have five candidates to choose from for North Dakota’s only U.S. House seat.

Mund, an attorney and former Miss America, retired military veteran Alex Balazs, plastic surgeon and former state lawmaker Rick Becker, Public Service Commissioner Julie Fedorchak, and Williston nurse Sharlet Mohr. Mohr has not been actively campaigning or taking part in debates.

The other high-profile race on the ballot is for the Republican nominee for governor. U.S. Rep. Kelly Armstrong and Lt. Gov. Tammy Miller are competing for the chance to replace Gov. Doug Burgum.

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Burgum was first elected in 2016, defeating Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem in the June primary. That race helped bring out 24.5% of eligible North Dakota votes, which Howe said is on the high end of historical turnout in the primary election.

In 2022, the turnout was 18.8% of eligible votes.

As of this weekend, 40,277 North Dakotans had voted, either by absentee ballot or through early voting, according to the Secretary of State’s Office.

There is little drama on the Democratic side of the ballot, though in the U.S. House, party-endorsed candidate Trygve Hammer is opposed by Roland Riemers, who has had several unsuccessful runs for office.

A nonpartisan office and a statewide measure also are on the ballot.

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There are four candidates for state superintendent of schools: Incumbent Kirsten Baesler, Jim Bartlett, Darko Draganic and Jason Heitkamp. The top two vote-getters move on to the November general election.

Voters also will weigh in on a statewide ballot measure that would put a cap on how old a person could be and still represent North Dakota Congress.

This story was originally published on NorthDakotaMonitor.com

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This story was written by one of our partner news agencies. Forum Communications Company uses content from agencies such as Reuters, Kaiser Health News, Tribune News Service and others to provide a wider range of news to our readers. Learn more about the news services FCC uses here.

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North Dakota

Fargo city staff propose higher pay caps, restructuring employee compensation plan

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Fargo city staff propose higher pay caps, restructuring employee compensation plan


FARGO — Amid struggles to hire and retain employees in a competitive job market, the city of Fargo is considering revamping its pay structure.

Fargo city commissioners gave mixed reactions to a presentation of the proposed changes during an informational meeting on Monday, June 17.

“Great plan,” Mayor Tim Mahoney said, “but if we can’t afford it, then it’s not going to work.”

The audience in the Fargo City Commission chambers on Monday was packed with Fargo firefighters following a

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letter to the editor published in The Forum last November

where firefighters took their

concerns over pay and staff turnover to the public

.

“We have all the firemen here. They deserve a raise,” Mahoney said, “But we also want to be mindful of what we do to the taxpayers.”

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The city’s Human Resources Director Jill Minette walked the commission through the proposed plan.

There are two options to consider, she said, Option A or Option B. Both include increases to employee pay across the pay step range, with Option B including higher pay caps.

For example, Minette said, an Equipment Operator III at the highest step makes about $73,000. Under the proposed changes, the pay cap on that position would rise to either $85,600 or $87,800.

There are 11 pay steps for city employees, she said. Under the proposed options, staff suggested increasing that to 17 steps and raising the pay cap.

If approved, the new plan would increase the pay amount at every step along the way and result in a higher pay cap for every position. Employees advance a step up the pay scale on an annual basis, in addition to COLA raises.

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“This would have a substantial increase with the retention of the workforce,” Minette said.

In the existing pay structure, firefighters have 10 steps and police have nine. Under the proposals, they would both have 11 steps. Having fewer steps shortens the amount of time staff need to work for the city to reach those higher levels of pay and boost retention.

Fargo firefighter salaries are capped at about $84,800, Minette said. Their salaries would top out at nearly $90,000 under Option A and around $92,200 under Option B. Under the existing pay structure, police officers hit their cap at $89,700, while under Option A the cap would be $94,800 and under Option B it would be $97,100.

Around 30% of city employees are already at the maximum pay for their job, Minette said.

Those employees receive a cost-of-living adjustment each year.

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The city of Fargo has seen turnover skyrocket since COVID-19, going from 4.37% in 2017 to 6.31% in 2020 before jumping to over 13% in 2021 and 2022 and going to 11.32% in 2023.

However, these higher turnover rates are still below the national average, Minette said.

“Not all resignations are due to pay,” she added. “There are a multitude of reasons that people leave.”

The cost for implementing the new pay structure options is varied, with Option A ringing up at $3 million and Option B at $5.5 million, Minette said, with roughly 80% of that cost coming from the city’s general fund.

These costs include what the city of Fargo will have to pay for all the step increases that are already heading their way in 2025, Assistant Director of Human Resources Beth Wiegman told The Forum via email. That incoming cost is $872,000, she said, meaning that, if approved, Plan A cost an additional $2.1 million and Plan B be an extra $4.69 million.

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While he said he backs pay raises for staff, Commissioner Dave Piepkorn questioned how these plans would impact the city’s budget.

Staff recommended that the commission approve Option B — the more expensive of the options — before the start of 2025.

However, Commissioner Denise Kolpack said she did not have enough context to decide between Option A and Option B, noting both options seemed to be “putting the cart before the horse.”

The commission needs to discuss the big picture of city finances before deciding what to do, she said.

She asked the finance, administration and human resources staff committee to decide the city’s compensation philosophy and pass that recommendation to the full City Commission for review.

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Mahoney said it’s important for the city to offer competitive salaries for staff because the city trains “excellent” people who then leave to work in the private sector.

“It is a complex salary structure. It always was. But we’re trying to be competitive,” Mahoney said.





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Post 400, Dickinson split Legion baseball doubleheader

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Post 400, Dickinson split Legion baseball doubleheader


FARGO — The Fargo Post 400 Stars and the Dickinson Roughriders split an American Legion baseball doubleheader on Monday at Starion Field.

Post 400’s Colby Hanson and Chase Lura got the better of a pitchers’ duel against Dickinson’s Jeremiah Jilek in a 2-0 win. But Jilek exacted his revenge at the plate in game two, collecting three hits and driving in four runs in the Roughriders’ 10-3 victory.

In the first game, Hanson and Jilek battled through three scoreless innings but Post 400 broke through with two runs in the bottom of the fourth.

Fargo’s Gus Pankratz led off with a line-drive double to left field. Caleb Christianson followed with a ground ball that the Roughriders booted, allowing Christianson to reach and Pankratz to score the game’s first run.

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Gus Werremeyer then moved Christianson to second with a sacrifice bunt and Gunnar Majerus lined a single to left to score Christianson.

Fargo Post 400’s Hudson Stein and Jack Gould fist bump between innings of their game against the Dickinson Roughriders at Starion Field on Monday, June 17, 2024.

Alyssa Goelzer/The Forum

Hanson and Lura did the rest, retiring nine of the last 10 Dickinson batters, with Lura allowing only a two-out walk in the sixth before recording a strikeout to end the inning.

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Hanson allowed just two hits and two walks with eight strikeouts in five innings to get the win. Lura finished off the last two innings to get the save.

Majerus was 2-for-3 and Hanson, Pankratz and Kane Mathiason had Post 400’s other hits.

Jilek went all six innings, allowing one earned run on five hits. He walked two and struck out three.

In the second game, the Roughriders put the Stars in a hole early, taking a 6-0 lead with three runs in both the first and second innings. Post 400 got two runs back in the third but any momentum the Stars may have built evaporated when Dickinson got those two back in the top of the fourth. The Roughriders scored two more in the sixth.

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Fargo Post 400’s Caleb Christianson prepares to throw the ball to the infield during their game against the Dickinson Roughriders at Starion Field on Monday, June 17, 2024.

Alyssa Goelzer/The Forum

Jilek was 3-for-4 with a double and he drove in four runs and scored twice. Kyler Kudrna was 2-for-4 with a double and a triple and two RBIs. Jack Price was 2-for-4 with an RBI and Cameron Wolf was 3-for-3 with an RBI.

Jace Kovash got the win, allowing two earned runs on seven hits in six innings. He didn’t issue a walk and struck out four. Post 400 loaded the bases on three straight singles in the bottom of the seventh but the Roughriders’ Jack Price relieved and got the final three outs.

The Stars’ Hudson Stein tripled twice in three trips and drove in two runs. Mathiason had a hit and an RBI and Cayden Neuharth had a triple and a double and scored two runs.

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The Stars fell to 6-7 overall and they play next at the Jr. Jay College World Series Classic on June 19-22 in Omaha, Neb. Dickinson is 5-3 overall.

061824.S.FF.Legion.baseball.4

Dickinson Roughriders’ Kyler Kudrna jumps up to try and catch the ball while Fargo Post 400’s Caleb Christianson runs through first base at Starion Field on Monday, June 17, 2024.

Alyssa Goelzer/The Forum

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061824.S.FF.Legion.baseball.2

Dickinson Roughriders’ Jeremiah Jilek dives into home plate against Fargo Post 400’s Blake Chase at Starion Field on Monday, June 17, 2024.

Alyssa Goelzer/The Forum

061824.S.FF.Legion.baseball.6

Fargo Post 400’s Cayden Neuharth looks to his teammates after making it to third base during their game against the Dickinson Roughriders at Starion Field on Monday, June 17, 2024.

Alyssa Goelzer/The Forum

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061824.S.FF.Legion.baseball.5

Fargo Post 400’s Hudson Stein pitches to Dickinson at Starion Field on Monday, June 17, 2024.

Alyssa Goelzer/The Forum

Our newsroom occasionally reports stories under a byline of “staff.” Often, the “staff” byline is used when rewriting basic news briefs that originate from official sources, such as a city press release about a road closure, and which require little or no reporting. At times, this byline is used when a news story includes numerous authors or when the story is formed by aggregating previously reported news from various sources. If outside sources are used, it is noted within the story.

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North Dakota's new congressional age limits law could trigger a federal legal review

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North Dakota's new congressional age limits law could trigger a federal legal review


A newly passed North Dakota law could give the U.S. Supreme Court an opportunity to revisit restrictions on who can run for federal office, a legal expert says.

North Dakotans voted Tuesday, June 11 to make it illegal for anyone to be elected or appointed to represent the state in Congress if they’d turn 81 before the end of their term.

The measure passed with nearly 61% approval from voters, according to unofficial results from the North Dakota Secretary of State’s Office.

Despite the amendment’s clear popularity with North Dakota voters, officials are expecting it to trigger a legal battle. A committee of state legislators estimated in April that the measure would take roughly $1 million to defend in court if passed.

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Election worker Mariah Madsen hands over a blank ballot to a voter on Election Day at El Zagal Shrine in Fargo on Tuesday, June 11, 2024. A measure to create an upper age limit for the state’s Congressional delegation passed by just under 61% during last week’s primary.

Alyssa Goelzer / The Forum

State leaders have said the law may conflict with a U.S. Supreme Court ruling from 1995 that found states cannot restrict who can run for federal office.

Justices cited this same case — U.S. Term Limits v. Thornton — in March when they voted unanimously that states could not disqualify former President Trump from appearing on election ballots.

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If there is a lawsuit against North Dakota’s age limits measure, and it does make it to the Supreme Court, there’s no guarantee justices will continue to affirm that precedent. The high court could always decide to rethink its 1995 ruling, said Michael Thorning, director of the Bipartisan Policy Center’s Structural Democracy Project.

“The current court has demonstrated a willingness, I think, to review current precedent and overturn it,” Thorning said.

He pointed out only one current justice was on the bench back when the 1995 case was decided: Clarence Thomas.

Notably, Thomas was against the ruling. He authored a dissenting opinion joined by fellow conservatives Chief Justice William Rehnquist and Justice Antonin Scalia, as well as Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, a moderate.

“Nothing in the Constitution deprives the people of each State of the power to prescribe eligibility requirements for the candidates who seek to represent them in Congress,” Thomas wrote in the opinion.

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Overall, it’s statistically unlikely that the Supreme Court will hear the case. The court takes up only a tiny fraction of cases they’re petitioned to review.

Jared Hendrix, who led the charge to get the measure on the ballot, said he would support the court overturning the 1995 ruling.

“I do believe the (Thornton) case was very flawed in its reasoning,” Hendrix said.

Hendrix has said the measure is a way for voters to ensure that congressional delegates are mentally and physically fit for the job, and that they are in touch with the needs of their constituents.

The measure is especially timely considering some of the nation’s most visible politicians are also some of its most aged, Hendrix has said.

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President Joe Biden, 81, and former President Donald Trump, 78, are the oldest and third-oldest American presidents ever, respectively. The current average age of Congress is also one of the oldest in the nation’s history, according to the Pew Research Center.

Hendrix has disputed lawmakers’ estimate that the measure could cost the state $1 million in legal fees, calling the figure “inflated.”

In order for the Supreme Court to weigh in on the law, someone would first have to sue the state over the measure.

Not just anyone would have standing to bring such a case. To have the right to fight a law in court, plaintiffs generally have to prove the law harms them in some way.

One example might be a candidate who is barred from seeking office under the policy, Thorning said.

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None of North Dakota’s current D.C. delegation — or anyone in the state currently seeking election to Congress — is near age 81. The state’s oldest member of Congress, U.S. Sen. John Hoeven, is 67.

The 1995 Supreme Court case, which struck down an Arkansas congressional term limits law, stemmed from lawsuits originally filed by a private citizen, the League of Women Voters and a U.S. representative.

What would happen if the Supreme Court overturned the 1995 term limits case? States would have much greater authority to gatekeep who could run for federal office, Thorning said. This wouldn’t be limited to age.

“Would it be allowable, then, for the state, for instance, to say that members of Congress can only be elected from certain counties within their state, or certain cities, or only ones that have met certain educational qualifications?” he asked.

States would still have to comply with the 14th Amendment, he noted, which would prevent states from barring someone from running for Congress based on race or gender, for instance.

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What if the Supreme Court declines to take the case, or upholds its 1995 ruling?

Congress could vote to amend the U.S. Constitution to set a nationwide age limit on elected officials.

Hypothetically, state legislatures could also bypass Congress by passing resolutions calling for the amendment to be adopted through a constitutional convention. According to U.S. Term Limits’ website, some states have already passed such resolutions. They would need a total of 34 in order to trigger a convention. There’s only ever been one U.S. Constitutional Convention, which took place in 1787.

This story was originally published on NorthDakotaMonitor.com

______________________________________________________

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This story was written by one of our partner news agencies. Forum Communications Company uses content from agencies such as Reuters, Kaiser Health News, Tribune News Service and others to provide a wider range of news to our readers. Learn more about the news services FCC uses here.





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