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Voters elect first female county commissoners

Posted 11/12/14 (Wed)

By Neal A. Shipman
Farmer Editor

For the first time in McKenzie County’s history, there will be a female presence on the county’s Board of County Commissioners. In the Nov. 4 General Election, not one, but two women were elected to serve on the six-member board.
Joining the board officially in December will be Kathy Skarda and Vawnita Best, who won their seats by defeating Kent Pedersen and incumbent Richard Lawlar.
Skarda topped a four-person race to serve on the county commission with 1,308 votes, while Best earned her seat with 1,151 votes. Pedersen and Lawlar tallied 965 and 963 votes, respectively.
McKenzie County will also have a new sheriff come January with Gary Schwartzenberger defeating Troy White Owl by a 1,861 to 633 vote margin. Schwartzenberger replaces John Fulwider, who is retiring from the department.
Running unchallenged for other county offices was Linda Svihovec, County Auditor; Jacob Rodenbiker, County State’s Attorney; Ann M. Johnsrud, County Recorder; Cheryl Grantier, County Treasurer; and the McKenzie County Farmer as the official newspaper of McKenzie County.
District 39 Races
It was a sweep for the Republicans as incumbents Senator Bill Bowman, Representative Keith Kempenich, as well as Representative-Elect Denton Zubke, were the top vote-getters in the race to serve District 39 in the North Dakota Legislature.
Bowman gathered 5,133 votes district-wide against Democratic challenger Stephanie Pretzer, who received 1,790 votes in the State Senate Race.
In the House of Representative’s race, in which Republicans Kempenich and Zubke squared off against Democatic challengers Maddison Voigt and Greg Tank, Kempenich was McKenzie County voters were adamantly opposed to Measure No. 5 with an 88 percent “no” vote compared to an 80 percent rejection rate of the proposal to create a special conservation fund statewide.
Likewise, area voters strongly showed their support of maintaining the state’s current pharmacy law with a 70 percent “no” vote on Measure No. 7 compared to a statewide 59 percent rejection of the proposed change.
Statewide, North Dakotans rejected Measure No. 1, which would have created a new section to the state’s constitution that stated “The inalienable right to life of every human being at any stage of development must be recognized and protected,” was defeated by a 64-36 percent margin. Also going down in defeat was Measure No. 3, which would have changed the board of Higher Ed from an eight-member board to a three-member commission, by a 75-25 percent difference; Measure No. 4, which would have prohibited initiating a constitutional change that would make a direct appropriation of public funds for a specific purpose or require the legislative assembly to approve funds for a specific purpose, by a 56-44 percent margin; Measure No. 6, which would have amended the North Dakota Century Code to create a presumption that each parent is a fit parent and entitled to be awarded equal parental rights and responsibilities by a court unless there is clear and convincing evidence to the contrary, by a 62-38 percent vote; and Measure No. 8, which would have required that all  school classes in North Dakota begin after Labor Day, by a 55-44 percent margin.
The only statewide measure that passed during the Nov. 4 election was Measure No. 2. That measure, which passed by a 76 percent approval by voters, will prohibit mortgage taxes being imposed on the sale or transfer of real property by any level of government in North Dakota.