Fargo GOP state Sen. Tom Fischer dies of apparent heart attackBISMARCK — North Dakota state Sen. Tom Fischer, who was known as one of the Legislature's experts on water issues, died Wednesday of an apparent heart attack, colleagues said. He was 65.
By: Dale Wetzel, Associated Press, INFORUM
BISMARCK — North Dakota state Sen. Tom Fischer, who was known as one of the Legislature's experts on water issues, died Wednesday of an apparent heart attack, colleagues said. He was 65.
Fischer, a Fargo Republican, fell ill early Wednesday night and was taken to hospital, where he died, said Sen. Tony Grindberg, R-Fargo.
Funeral arrangements were pending.
Fischer helped lead several water development organizations in Cass County and the region and was active in efforts to build a Red River diversion channel around Fargo to protect the city from flooding.
The project, the plans for which are still being developed, has been the subject of fierce debate in the Red River Valley region.
Sen. Dwight Cook, R-Mandan, Fischer's desk neighbor on the North Dakota Senate floor, said Fischer was often called upon to “unruffle some feathers” among the project's opponents.
“He was a big player in trying to find peace in that Fargo diversion,” Cook said. “He was one guy from Fargo who could go down there, and they listened to him. They liked him.”
Fischer was first elected to the Senate in 1996, representing a south Fargo district. Rep. Kathy Hawken, R-Fargo, who is one of the House members representing the district, said Fischer had been planning to run for re-election next year.
Legislative colleagues said Fischer was an expert on water issues and human services.
He was chairman of the Senate's Natural Resources Committee, which oversees legislation on water projects, until he moved to the budget-writing Senate Appropriations Committee during the 2005 Legislature.
After the 2011 session ended in April, Fischer was named chairman of an interim study committee on water issues.
“He was very opinionated, but he was kind and nice and he didn't care what side of the aisle you were on,” Hawken said. “He cared that you were doing the right thing.”