Bill would require local candidates in North Dakota to declare political parties

North Dakota Capitol in Bismarck. Forum News Service file photo
North Dakota Capitol in Bismarck. Forum News Service file photo

BISMARCK — A bill in the North Dakota Legislature would require candidates to declare a party membership or run as independents in local races that are now nonpartisan.

For Rep. Scott Louser, R-Minot, and other co-sponsors, their support for House Bill 1375 is a matter of transparency and making elections as easy as possible for voters.

“Everybody always says that all politics are local,” Louser said Thursday, Jan. 17. “And so I think it’s important we have local leaders — especially if they have the ability to levy taxes against our property — that they let the voting public know their political leanings.”

Louser’s bill would not allow candidates for judicial office or a superintendent of public instruction to declare a party.

Louser declined to share what he said he was saving as “compelling testimony” for the House Committee on Governmental and Veteran Affairs, which his bill was referred to. As of Thursday, the bill’s hearing had yet to be scheduled.

“Personally, I don’t see why someone (would) oppose this proposal, frankly,” Rep. Jake Blum, R-Grand Forks, said in an email. “Currently, candidates for local elections are expressly prohibited from declaring a party but many are participating in party politics as it stands.”