Final Count

November 11, 2008

As many of you know it was a tight race election day. The official count after the polls closed on Tuesday showed a 20 vote difference between Democratic challenger Kathy Stremick and myself. I had the narrow lead.

As of approximately 12:30 p.m., Nov. 10, 2008, the canvassing meetings have been held in all three counties of District 10. The final talley increased the gap by one vote, but now the count is final unless my challenger demands a recount. She has stated to the media that she will not and I believe she has chosen wisely.

It is a bit of a relief to have this all settled. What is unsettling is to learn that just because you do what you know is right and what you believe is best for your constituents doesn’t mean you have their overwhelming support. The encouraging thing is, of course, more did appreciate it than not, at least 21 more. :)

As the Session begins I will follow these same convictions. The greatest disservice I could possibly be of to those I represent would be to make legislative decisions based on what I think would get me more votes.

I’m excited for the Session and doing all I can for District 10 and North Dakota! I will be sharing an important announcement in early December, as well. I look forward to again serving the citizens of District 10 and hope to hear from you.


Thanks!

November 6, 2008

My sincere and humble thanks to the voters

of District 10 who supported me with your

vote in the General Election! It is truly an

honor to serve as your Representative in the

ND House. Thanks, too, for your encouragement

throughout the campaign. I also want

to thank my family and others close to me

who have given in so many, many ways to

make my participation in this race and this

position possible. I will remain steadfast in

my beliefs and unchanging in my values, in

service to District 10 and North Dakota.

My thanks and commendation to all who particpated in the

District 10 Legislative race. All have given of their time and

effort seeking to be of service.

Congratulations, regardless of the outcome of your campaign!

Sincerely,

Representative Chuck Damschen

 


Letter to the Editor

October 30, 2008

The most recent issue of the Cavalier County Republican, our official County newspaper, published a letter to the editor that contained a number of false statements. Interestingly, this was the last issue of the paper that will have full viewing before election. Also, the paper decided to forego their published policy concerning letters that make personal attacks and did not contact any of the three incumbent legislators criticized in the letter. If you’ve seen the letter, my response copied here will be more clear.

The tactic of last minute smear campaigns is nothing new to the opposition in our state, but I do not know if any of my opponents had knowledge of the letter prior to its publication. I am choosing not to publish it on this site simply because I’ve given it more attention than it deserves already. If you feel you must see it to clearly understand my response, leave a comment and I will make arrangements for you to access a copy.

Less than a week until election! I’m sure we’ve outworked our opponents but I’m pretty sure they’ve outspent us. To my constituents who have already cast your vote for me, a hearty “thanks!” And to those who will vote between now and Tuesday evening – I would appreciate your vote! Thank you all, & God bless!

Here’s my response that is to appear in the upcoming issue of the CCR.

 

To the Editor:

Harvey Hope’s letter in the October 27, 2008, Cavalier County Republican really doesn’t deserve a response. However, I would be remiss in not addressing Mr. Hope’s false statements, which he made with the intention of misleading the citizens of District 10.

First, let me address the comments directed specifically at me. The letter says I raised the issue that Legislators should not serve on other boards. Not true. Before the primary election, the issue of whether an incumbent county commissioner could devote the time necessary to do justice to a position in the Legislature was raised, but not by me. My only public statement saying that I don’t feel a person can do justice to both at the same time is on my website. The letter goes on to point out the fact that I serve on the Cavalier County Water Resource Board. If Harvey or any other commissioner thinks that compares to serving as a County Commissioner, I challenge him to agree to serve the rest of his term on the Commission for the same compensation with no benefits that our Water Board members receive.

Perhaps Harvey feels I was out of touch because I considered the well being of all my constituents and not just his wishes. What he needs to understand is that as a Legislator I do not represent just one person, government entity or board. I represent the interests of all the citizens of District 10, Republican and Democrat, whether we agree or disagree. If we wanted just the interests of a county represented in Bismarck, we would just send a commissioner from that county to the Legislature.

Although his letter implies that no effort was made to fund roads, Harvey knows very well that during the last Session I sponsored legislation to help all ND counties with road funding that would have come from the budget surplus at that time. Senator Olafson co-sponsored the bill and Rep. Monson voted for it. It didn’t pass, but it highlighted the needs of infrastructure and we have much more support for similar legislation going into the 2009 Session.  

I can’t take sole credit for the $1+ billion projected budget surplus. Still, it was nice of Harvey to illustrate the results of my economic policies compared to his, the results of which appeared on the front page of the same issue of the CCR under the headline “Commissioners discuss road & bridge deficit”.

There are some general statements that should be addressed. The phrase “tens of thousands of dollars” is used numerous times in the letter. Harvey should have access to enough information to be quite a bit more specific on the actual dollar amounts. He was very specific in his personal accusations with much less factual basis.

Harvey has had HB1303 explained to him many times and he either refuses to hear or is unable to comprehend the truth. As for SB2032, it did return some of the surplus to the taxpayers even though not in the manner many of us would have preferred.  As the legal deadline for the Legislative Session approached it became the only acceptable choice.

The general attitude of our Caucus is to oppose unfunded mandates. However, the notion that transferring fiscal burdens from local government entities to the state will save the taxpayer money is misguided. As I often point out, it’s still your money.

I take very little pleasure in having to write this type of letter. I work with and am friends with people in both political parties, so Harvey’s partisan choices do not offend me. I expect to have some criticism leveled against me and can accept that as well as differences of opinions. However, I will not leave unaddressed, statements that simply are not true. And it is my belief that ultimately, truth will prevail.

Sincerely,

Chuck Damschen

District 10 Representative


State Owned Oil Refinery

September 22, 2008

Well, this sbject has been pretty well hashed over by individuals much more knowledgeable about it than I, but I said I’d comment, so I will.

I have had a number of people express to me their belief that ND should build a refinery and produce cheaper, more readily available petroleum products for ND residents. On the surface, that statement doesn’t sound unreasonable, but it certainly leaves a number of issues unaddressed.

First of all, if this is a profitable venture, why aren’t any private companies building a refinery? What is the cost of a new refinery and how long would it take to construct? Would the state find a labor force to manage and run it when it was completed? What changes are possible within the petroleum industry before construction is complete? Can we know that companies drilling wells will choose to send their product to a state-owned refinery? If they don’t, should the state get into the drilling business? Do we expect mineral owners to sell crude to the state at a lower price than they could to a private company? Does the state have any business competing with private business? If consumers feel the price of farm products is causing food to be more expensive, should the state get into the production ag business?

I haven’t asked about transportation of crude and/or refined oil and distribution of the product to consumers or even if we can find a market share. Nor have we considered the tone this would set for the future of private oil industry in ND and their continued development of new technology that makes more oil recoverable in our state.

Unless there are some encouraging answers to the concerns I’ve mentioned, I think it would be very premature to build a state-owned refinery. I think we would do better to invite private enterprise to take on the task, even encourage them to do so. Offering incentives (such as tax reductions) that encourage private enterprise is less risky than the billions of dollars of taxpayer’s money we would risk on a state-owned project. And we avoid building a bridge to socialism in the process.

By the way, I’m not trying to deny that the oil industry has enjoyed record profits. But maybe not a huge profit per gallon of gas but a record demand for gallons. The “oil boom” has been a significant factor in ND’s record budget surplus as well. And if your investments happen to include some oil company stock, well, good for you!

I certainly respect the viewpoint of those who have spoken to me in favor of a state-owned refinery, but I ask you to consider the concerns I’ve listed, and others, and let me know if you see a need for addressing them before considering such an investment. As always, I appreciate hearing from you!

Chuck


Renwick Dam Rehab Project

August 12, 2008

I’ve expressed some of my feelings concerning this at meetings and in letters to the papers, so I’ll try not to be repetitive. I have some thoughts and concerns I’d like to share with you.

First, I have to say that Icelandic State Park is a beautiful facility and certainly an asset to the area, even to the state. I know of no one who would knowingly put that, or the city of Cavalier, or downstream property owners at risk. Where folks seem to differ is in how they feel the dam should be fortified and who should be responsible for the local match portion of the expense.

My belief is that those who pay an assessment for a project should: 1)benefit from the project, 2) be allowed to have input in deciding how the project is done, and 3) be offered as much information about the project as they would like to have, from the entity proposing the project and assessment.

I attended very few meetings on the Renwick Dam rehab project because, due to my location, I really didn’t feel that my input deserved consideration. Obviously I was not serving District 10 in the ND House at the time. What I remember very clearly from my limited participation is that the meetings were not conducive to public input. You could submit a comment or question in writing at the end of the meeting with no chance for follow up or rebuttal of the committee’s answer or comments.

I have witnessed situations where federal government agencies use these “public meetings” to direct a consesus that supports the plan that agency wants. It’s difficult for local officials to argue when a federal government employee, with all the credentials, says you should do it his way and promises federal help for funding if you do.

Whether or not this was the case with the Renwick meetings, I am concerned that the people in Pembina and Cavalier Counties who will be assessed for the rehab project are not being well served. I would much prefer that a project of this magnitude be brought before the people for approval or disapproval through a vote. There would have been more than adequate time to apply this process had the controlling entities chosen to do so. Local officials would have known the sentiment of the public as a result.

If the present plan is the most effective, economical, fair and beneficial way to proceed with the Renwick Dam rehab project, prove that to the people and let them vote. All cost and funding issues should be addressed and re-addressed as the project proceeds, as this is necessary knowledge in making an informed decision.

One more issue that surfaced once again as a result of water issues is that of County Commissions of one county assuming taxing authority in a neighboring county, and some people thought they saw an opportunity for this to happen. One doesn’t have to envision too many scenarios to realize the absurdity of such an arrangement. And I believe the mere suggestion flies in the face of the structure of government envisioned by our forefathers and defies reason.

As always, I welcome your thoughts and comments concerning this or the subject of your choice!

Regards,

CDD


Summer Events

August 5, 2008

It has been an enjoyable but busy summer, taking in events and campaigning. I have enjoyed seeing many of you at meetings, fundraisers, parades and fairs! I apologize for not getting to every event that I would like to be at, but can only be in one place at a time. As harvest approaches I’m realizing more time would really be a nice thing to have!

My colleagues tell me I missed a great parade in Park River. However, I was able to participate in several very impressive parades at the following towns: St. Thomas, Walhalla, Bisbee, and Mountain. I also spent some time at the Pembina County Fair in Hamilton. I’m always impressed with the small-town ND spirit that shows in the work that folks are willing to put into organizing these events! That is one of the elements that makes ND such a great place to be!

I was also honored to be a part of the ground breaking for the new facility at Maple Manor in Langdon. It was great to have the Governor there and it’s exciting to see Maple Manor moving forward on a new concept in senior living. My wife, Alice, our youngest daughter, Gabrielle, and I had the privilege of entertaining at the Maple Manor annual Luau fundraiser as “Special Delivery”.

“Special Delivery” also hosted the 8th Annual Gospel Music Extravaganza in the Cando City Park. It was fun to have Rep. Dave Monson and his wife, Mary, there for part of the day.

The Munich Volunteer Fire Dept. steak fry was another enjoyable evening. A 9-county meeting in Devils Lake, an advisory board meeting for the Langdon Experiment Station and a number of other events have kept the schedule quite well filled. Then there are all those annoying little things like, trying to make a living… : )

I do regret that I haven’t devoted more time to updating this site. I’m going to be attempting to change that starting now! In the very near future I intend to speak to several issues including the Renwick Dam Rehab project and the idea of a state-owned oil refinery.

Thank you for faithfully checking my website. I will make every effort to provide more timely updates from now on. I also hope to see many of you and visit with you at upcoming community events and/or during the door-to-door campaign.

More to come – soon! Best regards, Chuck


County Representation

June 19, 2008

I attended the pre-primary Cavalier County Commissioner candidate forum and was intrigued by the fact that some of the candidates felt that counties could have better representation in the state legislature if county commissioners served as legislators.

I’m sure a commissioner would know the needs of his or her particular county commission, but I believe that’s the extent of the “advantage”.

Legislators must represent all of the people, not just county commissioners. However, preceeding the two sessions I have served District 10, I have met with the commissioners of all three of our counties and asked them to indentify specific needs in their individual counties. I also attend Township Officer Association meetings to identify needs of townships within District 10. I have regular contact with water resource boards within and beyond our District. I also try to attend various events and meetings throughout the area to get a feel for peoples’ interests and concerns and be available for people to approach.

This brings to light another misconception – that serving in the ND Legislature requires only four months of time every other year. True, that is the maximum amount of time in session, but the position requires much more dedication of time than just the session. There are interim committees, any number of the meetings discussed previously, and personal contacts, phone calls, email, etc., etc.

Being a ND Legislator involves a huge time commitment, and I knew that when I made the decision to serve. I am honored to be entrusted with the duty of bringing the issues of District 10 before the Legislature and willingly dedicate my time to fulfilling that challenge. In spite of my best efforts I feel there are issues that have slipped through the cracks, and I’m still concerned about them.

Personally, I believe the combined time commitment for legislative and county commissioner duties would diminish the quality of service to one, if not both, of the positions.

Best regards,

Chuck


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