Bismarck Public Schools elections (2014)

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2014 Bismarck Public Schools Elections

General Election date:
June 10, 2014
Table of Contents
About the district
Method of election
What was at stake?
Key deadlines
Additional elections
External links
See also
North Dakota
Bismarck Public Schools
Burleigh County, North Dakota ballot measures
Local ballot measures, North Dakota
Flag of North Dakota.png

Three seats on the Bismarck School Board were up for general election on June 10, 2014. Incumbents Scott Halvorson and Matthew Sagsveen and challenger Karl Lembke defeated Karalee Harper, Michael A. Holly and Rissa Williams. Board member Steve Marquardt did not seek re-election because he ran for a seat on the Bismarck City Commission.[1]

About the district

See also: Bismarck Public Schools, North Dakota
Bismarck Public Schools is located in Burleigh County, North Dakota
Bismarck Public Schools is located in Bismarck, North Dakota, the county seat of Burleigh County. Bismarck is home to 64,751 residents, according to the United States Census Bureau.[2] Bismarck Public Schools is the largest school district in North Dakota, serving 11,160 students during the 2011-2012 school year.[3]


Bismarck outperformed in comparison to the rest of North Dakota in terms of higher education achievement in 2010. The United States Census Bureau found that 33.5 percent of Bismarck residents aged 25 years and older had attained a bachelor's degree compared to 27.1 percent for North Dakota as a whole. The median household income in Bismarck was $53,186 compared to $51,641 for the state of North Dakota. The poverty rate in Bismarck was 9.7 percent compared to 12.1 percent for the entire state.[2]

Racial Demographics, 2010[2]
Race Bismarck (%) North Dakota (%)
White 92.4 90.0
Black or African American 0.7 1.2
American Indian and Alaska Native 4.5 5.4
Asian 0.6 1.0
Two or More Races 1.5 1.8
Hispanic or Latino 1.3 2.0

Presidential votes[4]
Year Democratic vote (%) Republican vote (%)
2012 41.4 57.1
2008 43.7 55.4

Note: The United States Census Bureau considers "Hispanic or Latino" to be a place of origin, not a race. Therefore, the Census allows citizens to report both their race and that they are from a "Hispanic or Latino" place of origin simultaneously. As a result, the percentages in each column of the racial demographics table will exceed 100 percent. Each column will add up to 100 percent after removing the "Hispanic or Latino" place of origin percentages, although rounding by the Census Bureau may make the total one or two tenths off from being exactly 100 percent.[5]

Method of board member selection

The Bismarck School Board consists of five members elected at-large to four-year terms. There was no primary election and the general election was held on June 10, 2014. The district works with Burleigh County to schedule the election during the statewide primary in even-numbered years. Two seats will be up for election in 2016.[6]

Board candidates filed statements of intent as well as a statement of financial interests with the school board secretary by April 7, 2014. State law does not require board candidates to file campaign finance reports. Write-in candidates are not required by state law to register prior to the general election.[7]




  • Karl Lembke Green check mark transparent.png
    • Graduate, University of Mary
    • Development officer, State Historical Society of North Dakota
  • Matthew Sagsveen Green check mark transparent.png
  • Rissa Williams Defeatedd
    • Massage therapist
  • Karalee Harper Defeatedd
    • Graduate, University of Mary
    • Director, Division of Chronic Disease, North Dakota Department of Health
  • Michael A. Holly Defeatedd
    • Graduate, SUNY-Albany and University of Colorado
    • Senior National Guard trainer, U.S. Northern Command
    • Veteran, North Dakota National Guard
  • Scott Halvorson Green check mark transparent.png
    • Incumbent
    • Retired teacher

Election results

Bismarck Public Schools, At-Large General Election, 4-year term, 2014
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Nonpartisan Green check mark transparent.pngKarl Lembke 23.6% 4,813
     Nonpartisan Green check mark transparent.pngMatthew Sagsveen Incumbent 21.1% 4,314
     Nonpartisan Green check mark transparent.pngScott Halvorson Incumbent 20.5% 4,182
     Nonpartisan Michael A. Holly 14.4% 2,937
     Nonpartisan Karalee Harper 11.7% 2,388
     Nonpartisan Rissa Williams 8.3% 1,691
     Nonpartisan Write-in votes 0.4% 78
Total Votes 20,403
Source: North Dakota Secretary of State, "Bismarck Public School Dist. 1 Election Results," June 25, 2014


No candidates received an official endorsement in this election.

Campaign finance

No candidate filed a campaign finance report with the district office. Candidates are not required by state law to file campaign finance reports.[7]

Past elections

What was at stake?

Issues in the election

May 14 candidate forum

The Bismarck-Mandan Chamber of Commerce hosted a candidate forum on May 14, 2014 for all six of the school board candidates. Forum moderator Keven Strege asked for candidate views on district funding, curriculum standards and education issues. Scott Halvorson emphasized the need to balance new school construction with ongoing costs of maintaining and expanding district schools. Michael A. Holly discussed the need for strategic planning to keep the district budget in line with growing enrollment figures. Matthew Sagsveen also noted the district's need for smart budget planning especially as the state legislature changes aid formulas. Karalee Harper argued for district partnerships with local, state and national education agencies to improve education outcomes. Rissa Williams suggested that the school board has to become more diverse to reflect an increasingly diverse population in Bismarck. Karl Lembke stated that clear and consistent communication between the board and the public is important as the district continues to expand.[9]

Issues in the district

Sex abuse case against former teacher

Former Wachter Middle School teacher Susan Duursma faces felony solicitation of minor charges in Burleigh County based on alleged actions between March and July 2013. Duursma is accused of engaging in an inappropriate relationship with a 15-year old student. She was placed on unpaid leave in November 2013 and resigned from the district in February 2014. Duursma's attorneys seek to dismiss charges because a recording made by the student and his friends of an encounter was illegal without Duursma's permission. The defense has also asked the court to move the trial out of Burleigh County due to extensive media coverage of the story. A three-day trial was scheduled for May 2014.[10]

Key deadlines

The following dates were key deadlines for the Bismarck Public Schools election in 2014:[11]

Deadline Event
April 7, 2014 Filing deadline for candidates
May 1, 2014 Earliest date for absentee ballot access
June 10, 2014 Election day
June 20, 2014 Certification of results by county auditor

Additional elections on the ballot

The school board election shared the ballot with races for mayor, city commission and city park board. The ballot also included primary races for state legislative, U.S. House and U.S. Senate seats.[12]

Recent news

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See also

External links

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