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Patrick Springer, Published May 15 2012

Advocate of tax ban opposed in poll says fight is against ‘big money and powerful people’

FARGO – A leader of the ballot measure to eliminate North Dakota property taxes says a poll showing voters strongly oppose the proposal will spur the group to get its message across before the June 12 primary.

Charlene Nelson, chairwoman of Empower the Taxpayer, the group pushing the Measure 2 property tax repeal, said advocates knew they would face stiff opposition.

“We knew going into this that we were going up against big money and powerful people and knew this would be challenging to push,” said Nelson, who lives in rural Casselton.

Nelson said her phone has been “ringing off the hook” today since results of the Forum Communications poll regarding Measure 2 were published.

According to the poll, 74 percent of likely voters said they plan to vote no on Measure 2, with 26 percent saying yes. The telephone survey contacted 500 likely North Dakota voters and has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.3 percent.

Voters need to learn more about how the property tax revenues, estimated by state tax officials at $812.2 million a year, can be replaced, Nelson said.

Meanwhile, a spokesman for the coalition opposing Measure 2, Keep it Local North Dakota, said the group’s central message is getting through to voters.

“There’s no doubt that the Forum Communications poll shows that our message of keeping local control is resonating,” said Chad Oban, campaign director for the coalition opposing Measure 2. “That being said we’re not taking anything for granted between now and June 12.”

The nonpartisan coalition includes representatives of local governments, schools, and business groups, among others.

For more reaction to the poll results on Measure 2, read Wednesday’s Forum.