Bergsrud, who applied for GOP vacancy, wins Democratic nomination for District 15 House seat
DEVILS LAKE -- A North Dakota House seat left open by the sudden death of a legislator will be contested by two candidates who applied for his seat as Republicans.Brenda Bergsrud, the Lake Region Area ServeYes! director, won the Democratic nomina...
DEVILS LAKE -- A North Dakota House seat left open by the sudden death of a legislator will be contested by two candidates who applied for his seat as Republicans.
Brenda Bergsrud, the Lake Region Area ServeYes! director, won the Democratic nomination Tuesday to run for a North Dakota House seat vacated by Republican Rep. Curt Hofstad, who died in June. He was 70 years old.
She will face Greg Westlind, who was appointed last month to temporarily fill the open position ahead of a special legislative session called by Gov. Jack Dalrymple. Westlind, a semi-retired farmer from Cando, was unanimously endorsed to run as the district's Republican candidate earlier this month.
Bergsrud, whose address is in Rolla, said there are multiple issues in the state she would like to address, such as balancing the budget, finding solutions to the drug crisis and improving behavioral and mental health services, reimbursement to critical access hospitals and farm programs to help the agricultural sector.
“There are a lot of issues, and I don’t necessarily think they are party issues,” she said. “I think they are just issues that need to be corrected.”
Westlind said he has a keen interest in human services and water topics, especially access to rural water and helping farmers whose land has been flooded. He sat on the Human Service Committee and the Water Topics Overview Committee while filling Hofstad’s seat.
He added the nursing home and hospital in Cando will lose tens of thousands of dollars in funding due to budget cuts spurred by a decrease in tax revenue amid low oil and commodity prices.
“It would be my intention if I go back to Bismarck in January is to try to reverse that and to get Medicaid refunded,” he said, adding those matters will be brought up as soon as the legislative session begins.
Typically, odd-numbered districts are not on the ballot during presidential elections, but the timing of Hofstad’s death means his seat will be up for grabs in November.
Bergsrud and Westlind both applied to fill the vacancy with two other applicants -- District 15 Chairman Dennis Miller and Shannon Tiegen -- after Hofstad died, but Westlind was ultimately chosen.
Bergsrud did not run for the GOP nomination.
Westlind said he was surprised by Bergsrud’s move but didn’t have any feelings either way about her choice to run as a Democrat.
“That’s up to her and up to the Democratic Party,” he said. “I don’t think it is in the best interest of the Democratic Party to do that, but that’s their business and not mine.”
With all of the issues the state Legislature must deal with, “party issues are the least of our worries,” Bergsrud said. She said she is more focused on serving her district.
“It should matter that you are looking out for your constituents and what is best for our district and state,” she said.
District 15 includes Ramsey and Towner counties.