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Amy Dalrymple, Forum News Service, Published October 18 2010

Four run for two House seats in Berg’s former district

Residents of District 45 will elect at least one new representative this fall with the departure of Rick Berg, who is running for U.S. Congress.

Republican Joe Heilman, a 25-year-old recent North Dakota State University student body president, and community activist Prairie Rose Seminole, 30, a Democrat, both want to bring a fresh perspective.

Incumbent Ed Gruchalla, D, says he has more work to do, and newcomer Andrew Marschall, R, a 23-year military veteran, wants to serve the public in another way.

Voters will elect two representatives to District 45, which includes portions of Fargo north of 12th Avenue North and communities to the north, such as Reiles Acres, Harwood and North River.

Heilman, whose slogan is a “new voice for a new decade,” said he saw Berg’s exit as an opportunity.

“Sometimes the youth voice is something that is lost in the Legislature,” said Heilman, a Rugby, N.D., native. “I’d like to bring that there.”

As student body president for NDSU in 2008-09, Heilman testified to the Legislature. He’s also served on the North Dakota Youth Council.

Seminole, recent chairwoman of the Fargo Human Rights Commission, said her first taste of public service was at age 15 when she served on a metro youth commission, which was active in Fargo-Moorhead in the 1990s.

Seminole does freelance and consulting work that focuses on encouraging civic engagement and empowering women to seek leadership roles.

Seminole said although she’s young, she has 15 years of hands-on experience with city government and statewide advocacy.

“We should have people who have tried to effect change for the long-term actually sit at the table,” Seminole said.

Gruchalla, retired from the North Dakota Highway Patrol, said he wants to use his experience to make North Dakota safer.

Gruchalla, first elected in 2006, wants to reintroduce a bill this session seeking graduated driver’s licenses.

He also wants to pursue a primary seatbelt bill and revamp traffic fines, which are the lowest in the nation, Gruchalla said.

“My goal is to make this a better place for my children and my grandchildren,” said Gruchalla, 63. “I’m not in it for me.”

Marschall, 47, co-owner of Three Lyons Pub in West Fargo, said he’d like to offer his perspective as a small-business owner and Air Force veteran.

Marschall is a political science student at NDSU but took this semester off to focus on the campaign.

Senate race

In the District 45 Senate race, Fargo Park Board member Ron Sorvaag, a Republican, is trying to unseat incumbent Tom Fiebiger, a Democrat.

Sorvaag, 56, is a partner in First Choice Embroidery & Apparel and spent more than 20 years farming.

Sorvaag said he wants to bring his experience to the Legislature and ensure accountability in spending.

Fiebiger, 54, a labor and employment law attorney first elected to the state Senate in 2006, said he’s running for another term because there’s still work to do.


Readers can reach Forum reporter Amy Dalrymple at (701) 241-5590