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Published February 17 2010

UPDATED: Fargo’s Williams announces run for ND House; Ekstrom won't seek re-election

FARGO – Fargo City Commissioner Mike Williams announced today he will run as an independent candidate for North Dakota’s House of Representatives in November.

Williams will vie for one of two District 11 seats currently held by Reps. Mary Ekstrom and Scot Kelsh, both Democrats.

Ekstrom, who has represented the district since 1998, told The Forum after Williams' announcement that she won't seek re-election. She said it's become more difficult to juggle her full-time job as office manager and preplan consultant for Hanson-Runsvold Funeral Home with her legislative duties. She also noted that her husband, Rurik, died in 2005.

"And that business of being on your own and not having any backup ... it's getting harder every year," she said.

Williams, a lifelong Fargo resident, said he’ll continue to serve on the City Commission if elected to the state House.

Williams said the state’s highest priority should be “investing in human resources, and by that I mean people.”

Government’s primary role for economic development is “not necessarily incenting businesses that are already established with millions of dollars,” Williams said.

“To me, businesses flourish when we provide the infrastructure in place for all of our residents to reach their potential and to thrive, and the best way that we can do that is to help educate our people all through life,” he said during a press conference at the Fargo Theatre.

Williams said he would attend City Commission meetings via telephone when legislative duties took him away from Fargo.

He gave examples of other state legislators who have served on local governmental bodies, including Rep. Eliot Glassheim, who serves on the Grand Forks City Council.

For more on this story, see Thursday’s Forum.