Four years ago in the N.D. District 43 Senate race, Democrat JoNell Bakke, a teacher, beat Republican incumbent Duaine Espegard, a retired banker, who ran on a primarily economic development platform.

In 2010, Bakke faces another Republican business leader, architect Lonnie Laffen, running on an economic development platform.

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In earlier candidate forums, Bakke, too, has emphasized economic development and has talked about the need to make property tax relief in the state permanent. She also highlighted such issues as flood protection in Fargo and infrastructure and housing needs in the west. She also has listed higher education funding, especially for UND, as a priority.

"In the Senate, I voted for one of the largest property tax relief bills of state history, worked on a total reform of K-12 education funding and supported legislation that would encourage economic development across the state," she says.

In the forums, Laffen has talked about his main platform of job creation, saying the role of state government is to provide a strong business environment with low taxes and regulations.

"I believe new jobs will increase prosperity, fill our classrooms with students who will stay in the state, and lower the tax burden for each of us; that's why I will work to improve our state's business climate through a philosophy of limited government, fiscal responsibility, lower taxes and sensible regulation," he says.

Reach Tran at (701) 780-1248; (800) 477-6572, ext. 248; or send e-mail to