The campaign trail passed through Hettinger on Sunday. Gubernatorial candidate Rep. Rick Becker, R-N.D., came through town while making his way through the southwest part of the state, hoping to talk with constituents about his bid for the Governor’s office.
Becker is currently campaigning for the Republican nomination against current North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem and Fargo businessman Doug Burgum.
Originally scheduled to be held at the American Legion on Main Street, the meeting moved to the office of the Adams County Record when the Legion doors were closed.
Becker spent roughly an hour answering questions and talking about his policies, and where he found his motivation to run for governor.
Becker, who is from District 7 and works as a Plastic Surgeon, said his decision to enter the governor’s race closely mirrored his inspiration for joining the state legislature, he wanted to make a difference.
Over time Becker started noticing that the legislature was steering further away from the conservative ideologies he most aligns himself with, and with what the state of North Dakota has a reputation for.
“I was seeing a lot of things that I felt were inconsistent with that (conservatism),” Becker said. “If you don’t like how things are, then you should try and help bring about that change,” Becker said.
And by chance, the area he was living in was redistricted in 2011, creating an open seat. Knowing that North Dakota has some of the highest rates of re-election, Becker figured this might be his best chance to get involved. He was elected in 2012 and re-elected in 2014.
Another door recently opened for him when Gov. Jack Dalrymple decided not to run.
“Just like in the legislature, the door of opportunity opens, it’s a matter of do you walk through or don’t you,” Becker said. “So I’m choosing to walk through, again because I want to try and do what I can.”
Becker believes that the state is at a crucial point in needing to rethink things, given the decrease in energy production and commodity prices over the last year.
“The aspect of the decrease revenues we have now with agriculture and energy prices down,” Becker said. “It’s going to take a tremendous about-face of how we’ve been doing things.”
One of the problems small communities in North Dakota will face, according to Becker, is finding that equilibrium between planning for the future and a slashing of state funds such as the oil impact grants.
“Part of the efficiency of what’s going to have to happen in state government is to reel in a lot of the spending, but make sure that we’re not hurting the rural areas and smaller towns,” Becker said.
Communities with ongoing projects could face some issues in the near future. Many of the projects were started with grant money, and started with the anticipation of grant money being available throughout the process. But Becker said that it could be a real issue when those towns go to apply for more funds, they may not be there. “I believe it’s highly likely that (lack of available grants) will be an issue,” Becker said.
Becker said he would like to have a clear program where legacy funds would be available to bond out the rest of those projects in the middle of construction. Becker suggested perhaps moving funds from projects that haven’t been started yet to those in the middle of construction as a solution to that problem.
Following some discussion about his other policies and political stances, Becker was asked a final question: why should people vote for him?
Becker was clear with his answer; he wants people to vote for him if they feel he aligns with their political ideologies.
“You really shouldn’t vote for anyone beyond the simple metric of saying “who has the vision with what I think is best,”” Becker said. “And if people vote for one of the other two based on that and I lose, I will be perfectly content, that’s the way the system is suppose to work. That’s why I implore to people to just be true to themselves, do their due diligence to figure out the candidates, if they do that I believe I’ll win.”
Becker was scheduled to meet with the Bowman community following his time in Hettinger. His campaign advisor said he was making stops this past weekend because many of the district meeting occur on the same evening, and he can’t be present at each and every one of them.
The Primary will be in June 14. So far the Democrats have not announced a candidate and a Fargo resident, Eugene Dumont, will be campaigning as a write-in candidate.