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Bismarck School Board member, physician charged with obstruction during traffic stop

Officers said Emily Eckroth was disrespectful and disregarded commands while they investigated her husband on suspicion of driving under the influence in Bismarck. Ryan Eckroth was not cited.

Emily Eckroth.jpeg
Emily Eckroth.
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BISMARCK — A Bismarck Public School Board member has been accused of obstructing a government function while a sheriff’s deputy stopped her husband on suspicion of driving under the influence.

Emily Suzanne Eckroth, 46, is slated to appear Oct. 25 in Burleigh County District Court on the misdemeanor charge. No attorney was listed for her as of Thursday.

The charge that was filed Wednesday, Sept. 28, detailed a 12:19 a.m. Sept. 3 traffic stop along Interstate 94 in Bismarck. A Burleigh County deputy wrote in a citation against Eckroth that he noticed her husband, Ryan Eckroth, failing to stay in one lane while driving east on the interstate.

Emily Eckroth yelled and swore at officers, the citation said. She recorded the encounter as two deputies warned her to stay in the vehicle during the DUI investigation, the citation said.

The citation described her as disrespectful.

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“It got to the point where Ryan was so flustered by Emily and the situation that he couldn’t provide an adequate breath sample for an on-site breath screening test,” the deputy wrote.

Emily Eckroth exited the vehicle and walked toward a squad vehicle despite warnings not to interfere with officers, the citation said. She was detained but released on the condition that she promised to appear in court.

She did not immediately return a message left by The Forum.

Ryan Eckroth was not cited based on the totality of evidence and officers' observations, Sheriff's Maj. Jim Hulm said. He was "extremely cooperative" with the deputies, Hulm added.

The Eckroths were allowed to call for a ride home from the traffic stop, the major said.

Emily Eckroth was first elected to the Bismarck School Board in June. Her term expires in 2026.

The district is aware of Emily Eckroth being charged, Bismarck Public Schools spokesman Steven Koontz said. He declined to comment on her case because it is pending.

When asked about action the board could take against her, Koontz said, "From a district perspective, it’s hard to speculate on any disciplinary measures at this point."

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She also is a family medicine physician for Sanford Health in Bismarck, according to the school board website.

"We are aware of a situation involving one of our providers and have nothing further to add at this time," Fred Fridley, vice president of operations for Sanford in Bismarck, said in a statement.

Ryan Eckroth lost a bid for a North Dakota Senate seat against Sean Cleary during the Republican primary in June. Cleary will face Democrat Tracy Potter for the seat that represents District 35 in Bismarck.

April Baumgarten joined The Forum in February 2019 as an investigative reporter. She grew up on a ranch 10 miles southeast of Belfield, N.D., where her family raises Hereford cattle. She double majored in communications and history/political science at the University of Jamestown, N.D.
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