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Better leadership needed for vibrant North Dakota future

Last Word | January 18th, 2016

by Merrill Piepkorn

Over 50 years ago, Bob Dylan penned the lyrics, “The times, they are a-changin’.” It seems as though the current North Dakota state legislature is reluctant to accept what has happened since: The times, they have a-changed. While our present lawmakers seem bent on building barriers to social change, I believe that most North Dakotans — certainly those in my district, District 44 — embrace social change, acceptance, and individual responsibility.

I am announcing my candidacy for state senator to better represent North Dakotans by listening to constituents and supporting positive change based on their input. As we hand over leadership to the next generation, I want to be part of a team that has ensured we’re handing them the reins of a state that leads the nation not only in economic terms, but also in overall well being. Let’s take a look at a few things that can be improved.

While we’ve built a strong education system, North Dakota lags behind most other states in supporting early-childhood education. We also need to reduce the financial burden of post-secondary education to help young adults take advantage of our quality university system and be in a better position to invest in housing and business right here in the state after graduation.

Regarding water-management, we need to invest now in flood control for long-term protection, and also need to be sure that floods of our recent past don’t blind us to the ongoing need to also protect against water shortages and drought.

Another priority issue is fair management of property tax, especially in helping keep two key demographics as vital parts of our communities: young home owners and the elderly.

Finally, my greatest motivator in seeking office is my love and respect for the people across our state, from my birthplace in northwestern North Dakota to Fargo, which I’ve called home for 50 years. My long career as a broadcast professional, event host and entertainer has allowed me to help give North Dakotans a louder voice on many occasions, and to call many of them my friends.

I know our people well, collectively and personally. I celebrate our triumphs. I know our ebbs and flows, and our current pressing challenges. And I’m ready to work diligently to help ensure that, at least in North Dakota, the times are a-changin’ for the better.

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