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Bismarck senator announces retirement, citing 'toxic times' in politics

"I hope I have contributed to the atmosphere of respect and decorum in my time here, but I do feel civility and respect slipping, even here in North Dakota," Sen. Nicole Poolman said in her announcement that she would not run for reelection in 2022.

Sen. Nicole Poolman, R-Bismarck, announces to her Senate colleagues on Thursday, Nov. 11, she will not run for reelection in 2022. Jeremy Turley / Forum News Service

BISMARCK — North Dakota Sen. Nicole Poolman, a Bismarck Republican, announced to her colleagues on Thursday, Nov. 11, that she will not run for reelection in 2022, noting she has grown weary of the divisiveness seeping into the state's political scene.

In a speech on the Senate floor, Poolman said these are "toxic times" in politics, adding that she first ran a decade ago because she "saw civility diminishing in our national conversations," and she didn't want that to happen in North Dakota.

"I hope I have contributed to the atmosphere of respect and decorum in my time here, but I do feel civility and respect slipping, even here in North Dakota," Poolman said.

During last spring's legislative session, lawmakers had several heated exchanges over socially conservative legislation that occasionally turned into name-calling and disparaging comments.

In an unprecedented move, the House expelled former Dickinson Republican Rep. Luke Simons in March over allegations that he had repeatedly harassed female lawmakers and staff.


Earlier this week, Minot Republican Rep. Jeff Hoverson said during a House floor discussion of a redistricting plan he would "like to see some spine in our leadership" in reference to House Majority Leader Chet Pollert.

Poolman also noted that her work as a senator has taken a heavier toll on her "real job" as an English teacher at Bismarck High School. She said "teaching is the best job in world," and she wants to give her students the attention they deserve.

The senator, who is married to former state Insurance Commissioner Jim Poolman, added that she has a son with an intellectual disability who will soon graduate high school, and she would like to help him during the difficult transition to adulthood.

Poolman ended the speech by expressing her appreciation for the friends she made in the Legislature and the lessons she learned in the Capitol, adding that she hopes the Senate will maintain its value of decorum.

First elected in 2012, Poolman was most recently reelected in 2018 when she ran unopposed. She joined Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem's run for governor as a candidate for lieutenant governor in 2016, but they were defeated by current Gov. Doug Burgum and Lt. Gov. Brent Sanford.

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