Lack of interest shows state of Democratic Party in North Dakota
By COLE BENZ | Herald Editor
The District 39 Democrats held a meeting to vote on party officers, and no one was elected, because nobody volunteered. The meeting, held in Dickinson along with District 36 and District 37 on Friday, Jan. 20, was organized to elect a chairperson, vice-chair, secretary and treasurer, and according to former chairwoman Stephanie Pretzer, nobody stepped up to run for a position.
“No officers were elected, there was no one to step up and take any [of the positions],” Pretzer said.
This is a continuing trend in regards to the position of the Democratic Party in North Dakota, that was really made obvious during the general election in November.
Not one Democratic candidate was elected to any of the state positions up for re-election. And the State House and Senate lost 18 seats between the two, including Senate Minority Leader Mac Schneider out of District 42 and Kylie Oversen, also out of District 42. Oversen also serves as the state’s Dem-NPL chairwoman.
Pretzer said she was surprised at the lack of participation within the district, because she saw a good turnout when they caucused in Hettinger prior to the June primary.
“We had around 20 people there, which was amazing for District 39,” she said.
Part of the problem, she said in respect to District 39, is the size of the district itself, which is one of the largest, if not the largest.
“A really big detriment to District 39 is we go from South Dakota up to Watford City,” she said. “It’s so big, there’s not a meeting place that is good for everybody so people just don’t show up.”
Not only do the district lines reach up more than half of the western state border, but it also stretches east past Hettinger.
Pretzer said that because of the size of the district, it requires someone to dedicate a lot of time and resources to fill the positions, along with finding a meeting location that works for everybody.
Pretzer recently resigned from her position in part because of the time commitment, but also felt that because she is currently the Bowman County State’s Attorney, she needed to be more non-partisan.
Pretzer also commented on the statewide decline of the Democratic Party, saying that she doesn’t think it’s because of their ideals or because of the individual candidates. But cites the overwhelming shift in the current national political climate that has trended more Republican.