I write this in support of Doug Burgum for North Dakota governor and to publicly thank him for his role in allowing us to raise all three of our children in the state.
My husband and I both grew up in western North Dakota and traveled to University of North Dakota for college knowing that with my husband pursuing a degree in technology, we would most likely leave the state for a job in a metropolitan area. As my husband started applying for jobs after leaving graduate school, he applied for a job at a software company neither of us had ever heard of, Great Plains Software.
My husband would tell me stories about what kind of person Doug was. He can cite numerous examples of where Doug saw the company not as the product being produced as the greatest asset, but the employees being the most important asset.
Doug worked to make sure that every employee felt appreciated and how important it was to be part of the "family" working and living in North Dakota. Often, he was talking with employees and helping with tasks that you would not associate with the CEO; from packing boxes to answering support calls.
He would often stress the importance of doing what was right for the customer, because at the end of the day, if they weren't doing right by the customer and the people they serve, they weren't doing their jobs.
There were numerous times that he was asked why he started a company in North Dakota and one of the answers always was the quality of people that we have in the state. My husband never felt like he needed to leave Great Plains, which offered our family stability of staying in one community. He loved the culture and the people he worked with became family.
While I have been following Doug through the years, I recognize that as an individual he emulates all that our state stands for. He is a man of character that supports everything that I believe in. He champions the underdogs, like the college graduates from small towns in North Dakota and keeps a software company going with lots of hard work and sacrifice.
I have watched him support revitalizing a downtown making it vibrant for businesses and restaurants to thrive. I have witnessed him coming to the side of my husband after a security scare at his work to make sure that he was really OK, not taking someone else's word for it, but to actually take the time to check on him.
I am excited to see how our state grows under Doug's leadership. I am confident that he will treat the citizens of our state like the "family" he created at Great Plains. And I continue to be a grateful mom who was able to raise her children in the state she was raised in. For that, thank you Doug.
Schmalenberger lives in Fargo.