Jodi Uecker

Jodi Uecker, chief operating officer for Gov. Doug Burgum's office, leads the five-member search committee on Thursday at the state Capitol in Bismarck to review applications for a commissioner to the North Dakota Department of Trust Lands.

A search committee reviewing applications for commissioner of the North Dakota Department of Trust Lands has selected eight candidates to interview next week.

The committee of the Board of University and School Lands narrowed the selection from a total of 32 applicants while meeting in a closed-door executive session Thursday.

Names of candidates will not be made public until finalists are named under a new state law that took effect Aug. 1.

Jodi Uecker, chairwoman of the search committee and chief operating officer for Gov. Doug Burgum, said the applicants come from diverse backgrounds, including private industry, public service and the nonprofit sector.

“We’re really very thrilled with the quality of the candidate pool,” Uecker said.

The committee plans to conduct in-person interviews on Tuesday and Wednesday starting at 8:30 a.m. in the governor’s conference room of the Capitol. The interviews will be conducted in an executive session.

The Land Board voted in May to open a search for land commissioner. Burgum, who is chairman of the board, also required members of his Cabinet to reapply for their positions after he took office.

Commissioner Lance Gaebe’s appointment was set to expire at the end of June, but commissioners extended it through Dec. 31 or until a new commissioner would be appointed. Gaebe has said he applied for the position. It was unknown if he is among the eight selected to be interviewed.

The committee aims to make a recommendation to the Land Board by the end of the month.

The Department of Trust Lands manages the permanent educational trust funds and assets under the Land Board’s control. The department also manages sovereign mineral acres, operates the Unclaimed Property Division and the Energy Infrastructure and Impact Office.

Each Land Board member appointed a representative to the search committee.

The other members are Rick D. Larson, former deputy land commissioner, appointed by Secretary of State Al Jaeger; Tom Trenbeath, former deputy attorney general, appointed by Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem; Linda Svihovec, former McKenzie County auditor, appointed by State Treasurer Kelly Schmidt; and Bob Christman, chief of staff for the Department of Public Instruction, appointed by Superintendent Kirsten Baesler.

Public meeting notices for the next meetings were promptly posted following Thursday’s meeting. The Bismarck Tribune reported Thursday that the search committee did not post timely notices for its first two meetings.

(Reach Amy Dalrymple at 701-250-8267 or Amy.Dalrymple@bismarcktribune.com)

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