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Elizabeth Summers, Published April 30 2009

Carlson attempts to undo my vote

As a resident of Grand Forks, N.D., I am not directly represented by Rep. Al Carlson, R-Fargo, and so I wondered how it is that this one legislator from Fargo can undo my vote for Measure 3 and thwart the will of the majority of North Dakota voters. What kind of person does that? Who is this Carlson who arrogantly ignores 165,000 voters?

Well, I did a little checking and found out that Carlson is a representative from Fargo’s District 41. In 2006, when he was re-elected to the North Dakota Legislature, Carlson received only 2,903 votes (52 percent of the votes cast). By contrast, last November, 3,998 voters in Carlson’s district voted to support Measure 3. That’s right: In his own district, 1,000 more voters supported Measure 3 than supported Carlson’s re-election bid.

I then wondered, where does this guy stand on other tobacco control issues? In June, 61 percent of the voters of Fargo voted for smoke-free workplaces. Yet Carlson goes to the Legislature and votes against a statewide smoke-free law. Without boring you with the details, on pretty much all tobacco control issues, Carlson takes the side of the tobacco industry over the constituents in his district, the city of Fargo, and the public health community. Shame on him.

Now the only mystery left for me to resolve: Why do Republican House members (with the notable exceptions of Reps. Bob Martinson and George Keiser, both from Bismarck) support Carlson’s pro-tobacco industry policies over the public health interests of the people? I do not know. That is something voters should ask their legislators directly. I know that I intend to ask mine.