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Mohall natives vie for AG post

The two men vying for North Dakota attorney general this year come from the same hometown and believe more can be done to fight meth. They also speak politely of each other, but the similarities end there. In a race marked by a cordial disagreeme...

Attorney General candidates

The two men vying for North Dakota attorney general this year come from the same hometown and believe more can be done to fight meth.

They also speak politely of each other, but the similarities end there.

In a race marked by a cordial disagreement on issues, voters must decide Nov. 7 between Republican incumbent Wayne Stenehjem and Democratic challenger Bill Brudvik - both Mohall natives - to serve as the state's chief legal officer.

The winner earns a four-year term that pays $80,761 this year.

Stenehjem, who has six years as attorney general under his belt, points to a track record of fighting crime and protecting consumers. He won campaigns in 2000 and 2004, the only time the office carried a two-year term.

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If voters re-elect Stenehjem, the former Grand Forks, N.D., citizen legislator said he'll focus on Internet luring crimes, longer penalties for sex offenders and continued efforts to combat drug trafficking. Efforts to protect consumers will continue, and he'll remain an ardent supporter of open records and meetings, Stenehjem said.

"We're not crime-free, and until we are, it's not good enough for me," he said.

Earlier this year, Brudvik criticized Stenehjem for failing to thoroughly investigate events leading to University System Chancellor Robert Potts' resignation. He said Stenehjem should have asked Gov. John Hoeven tough questions in finding out whether officials violated the state's open meeting laws.

Stenehjem said the claim was unfounded and that his office meticulously researched the matter.

"I issue opinions without respect to partisanship or personality," Stenehjem said. "It's the only way to do it."

Brudvik proposes several initiatives aimed at North Dakota's young people, including tuition tax credits and a roll back on college tuition rates.

The attorney general, which sits on the Industrial Commission overseeing the Bank of North Dakota, can make a difference, he said.

The challenger gives Stenehjem credit for fighting meth but believes more can be done through prevention and treatment. He wants to bring the Montana Meth Project campaign to the state.

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Stenehjem said he wants evidence that the anti-meth advertisement campaign works. If so, he'll seek private sponsors or the state for money to start a similar effort in North Dakota.

"He's only made a couple of criticisms of things I've done, and those have been nibbling around the edges," Stenehjem said of his opponent's campaign.

Brudvik also calls for stiffer laws for those supplying alcohol to underage drinkers. He wants to protect citizens from predatory credit card and lending practices and believes the attorney general should give legal opinions on the law without regard to political affiliations.

"On all levels, good government is balanced government," said Brudvik, who is seeking political office for the first time. "There will always be a majority and a minority ... but when both have a seat at the table. I think that's when government works best."

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Steven P. Wagner at (701) 241-5542

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