Advocacy Explained & An Election Preview

Written by: FMWF Chamber of Commerce

As we head into another year at The Chamber, our advocacy efforts will only be expanded upon from last year. As the upcoming year has the November 6 general election with contested races on both sides of the river from federal to local races, and spring will bring both North Dakota and Minnesota’s legislative sessions, you can be sure to see The Chamber speaking on behalf of its members on important issues.

The Chamber dedicates much of its attention in a wide variety of ways to advocacy. Advocacy, by definition, is the activities in which a group engage in with the aim to influence decisions within political, economic and social systems and institutions. At The Chamber, this is seen through the participation of our Public Policy, Agribusiness and Military Affairs committees, the stances taken on many issues, election education and encouragement of voter participation.

Our Agribusiness committee represents a collective voice of business leaders to represent agriculture as a key industry in the metro. The Military Affairs committee aims to foster a community of support for the men and women of our military and the missions they carry out on our behalf. Both of these committees engage in advocacy efforts both locally and federally. In the past year, the Agribusiness committee brought in both North Dakota U.S. Senators for agriculture roundtables where the committee voiced agriculture concerns and got a first hand updates on key legislation such as the farm bill. The Military Affairs Committee also had interaction with North Dakota’s Congressional Delegation through taking representatives of the group to Washington D.C. to attend the North Dakota Military and Congressional Reception. The group was also briefed from National Guard Association of the U.S. President, retired Brig. Gen. Roy Robinson. These committees have engaged in various other advocacy efforts throughout the year as well.

One of the major tasks of the Public Policy committee is to construct a Policy Guide that includes helpful information regarding elected officials, legislative sessions and The Chamber’s policy agenda. We will continue our strong effort for the Diversion as one of our top priorities. Addressing the workforce shortage and retention of students, education will also be of high importance. Specifically, within education, the discussions of NDSCS Career Academy. As before, we commend the Fargo City Commission for putting together a committee to discuss the very complex discussion that was raised before the last election on the elimination of special assessments. We were pleased that we were able to nominate Jeff Volk, who was ultimately chosen to serve on this taskforce. Our Policy Guide will include these issues and more to address: Energy and Natural resources, Education, Training and Workforce Development, Health Care, Regulatory, Economic Development and Tax Policy, Flood Protection, Planning, Transportation and Infrastructure, Residential/Commercial Development and emerging Opportunities for Commerce. These policy issues will serve as our legislative agenda come session this spring.

The Chamber will be attentive to both the North Dakota and Minnesota legislative sessions as they get rolling on January 3, 2019 and January 8, 2019, respectively. Before jumping into session, the November 6 general election is garnering the attention of engaged citizens. The Chamber encourages voter participation. You can early vote or absentee vote in both MN and ND or go to the polls on election day, November 6! Minnesota residents will need to register to vote. Visit the Secretary of State’s website for ND and MN for more specific information regarding voting locations and times as well as necessary means of personal identification.

In an effort to help educate the public on the various candidates vying for limited seats, The Chamber’s advocacy efforts are especially strong at this time. This fall, The Chamber looks forward to hosting a Cracker Barrel event on October 18 from 3:30 to 5 p.m. A “cracker-barrel” is a traditional expression used to describe a habitual discussion among a common group or community. At this event, candidates will rotate through tables of community members so that attendees have 5-7 minutes to meet with multiple candidates. Visit our website for more information and to register for this event. Registration is free, but required. For those looking to see more about the local candidates on both sides of the river, we will be highlighting them on our website. Here, each candidate has the opportunity to share their issue of priority.

There are several contested races on both sides of the river across federal and local campaigns. In North Dakota, the whole state, along with much of the nation, is watching as there is a highly contested race for the Senate with incumbent Senator Heitkamp (D.) being challenged by Representative Cramer (R.). With Cramer leaving his house seat open, there is a contested race between Kelly Armstrong (R.) and Mac Schneider (D.). In addition, the state will have names on the ballot for Secretary of State, Attorney General, Agriculture Commissioner, Public Service Commissioner and Tax Commissioner. Looking locally, there are six districts in the area, all with contested seats for the senate and house, they are Districts 11, 13, 21, 27, 41 and 45. In the Cass County Commission, District 2 and District 4 both have elections but have unopposed candidates.

In Minnesota, there is a contested race for a new Governor, as well as both Senate seats up for grabs. In Minnesota’s 7th congressional district, where Moorhead falls, there will be a contested election for the House of Representative’s seat. There will also be contested races for numerous other state seats, the State Legislature, City Mayor, City Commission and Clay County Commission. Visit our website to find a complete listing of all of the candidates in the aforementioned races.

In addition to candidates, there will also be four measures on the North Dakota statewide ballot, and one additional on the Fargo city ballot. The four ND statewide ballot measures are Measure 1: Pertaining to the Transparency of Funding Sources, Lobbyists, Conflicts of Interest, and the Establishment of an Ethics Commission, Measure 2: Pertaining to the Elections in Which a Qualified Elector May Vote, Measure 3: Pertaining to the Legalization of Marijuana, Measure 4: Pertaining to the Established Personalized Vehicle Plates for Volunteer Emergency Responders. The Fargo city ballot initiate is on approval voting. More information can be found on our website pertaining to each of these measures, and any stances taken by The Chamber.

The Chamber is looking forward to another great year of advocacy, and we hope to see you at some of our events and engaged in the upcoming election. Watch our website and social media to hear more about upcoming events, our stances on issues and reminders about the election.

All aboard!

FMWF Chamber of Commerce

202 1st Ave. N, Moorhead

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The Fargo Moorhead West Fargo Chamber of Commerce is a bi-state, regional federation of over 2,100 private, public and non-profit member firms representing more than 109,000 people. The largest local chamber in North Dakota and Minnesota, The Chamber advocates for a strong metropolitan community and supports the interests of its members, which are located in Cass and Clay Counties and beyond.