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Published October 22 2012

Forum editorial: Dalrymple prepared to lead ND

North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple, in the job for only about two years, has demonstrated he is good at it and getting better every day. He should be elected to a full four-year term.

Lt. Gov. Dalrymple became governor when then-Gov. John Hoeven was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2010. Dalrymple had been lieutenant governor for nearly 10 years, and previously was a long-serving legislator, much of that time as chairman of the House Appropriations Committee. He brought a wealth of experience with him when he became governor.

But that’s not all. Dalrymple is a Red River Valley farmer and businessman. He was among the prime movers in establishing Dakota Growers pasta plant at Carrington, a successful farmer cooperative that recently was sold and restructured as a corporation. He’s been an advocate for education all his public life.

If there is any doubt that his depth of knowledge and experience is important in a governor, it was dispelled by seeing Dalrymple in action the past couple of years. His administration confronted everything from devastating floods on the Missouri and Souris rivers to the exploding demands of the oil boom in western North Dakota. Displaying the wisdom of a good leader, the governor surrounded himself with competent advisers and staff people who share his work ethic and his expansive vision for the state.

By his own reckoning, the governor is not a flashy guy. He’d rather be engaged in data analysis and problem solving than the necessary politics of public office. By that standard, he’s done very well. In the face of unprecedented and rapid change, Dalrymple and his team have developed and championed immediate initiatives and blueprints for the future. The governor knows North Dakota must embrace and exploit prosperity, rather than becoming a victim of its own history – of generations of public policy that were informed by scarcity. It is a change some legislators have not yet come to understand.

State senator and Towner rancher Ryan Taylor wants the governor’s job. He’s run an honorable campaign, stressing the need for the governor and the state to do more to ease the impacts of energy development. It’s a sound message, even as Dalrymple is doing just that. Nonetheless, Gov. Dalrymple would be wise to ponder what his legacy will be a generation from now if the drive for oil revenue and unchecked development results in irreversible destruction of the ranching culture and fragile landscapes of the west.

That being said, Taylor has not made a convincing case the governor should be replaced. Dalrymple is doing an excellent job in the face of extraordinary change. He’s met most of the challenges thus far and is prepared to take on the rest. He’s earned a full term.

Forum editorials represent the opinion of Forum management and the newspaper’s Editorial Board.

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