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North Dakota State Superintendent Kirsten Baesler seeking reelection

North Dakota State Superintendent Kirsten Baesler seeking reelection

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North Dakota Superintendent of Public Instruction Kirsten Baesler is seeking a third four-year term.

She confirmed her plans for reelection to the Tribune on Thursday.

"I really enjoy the work that I do," Baesler said. "I'm very excited about the team that I've built over the last 7½ years in office, and I'm eager to continue doing the work for our 110,000 students and their families in the state."

Prior to her first election in 2012, Baesler had a 24-year career with Bismarck Public Schools, including positions as a classroom teacher and a vice principal. She sat on the Mandan School Board from 2004 to 2012 and was its president for seven years.

The state superintendent is a nonpartisan official, but North Dakota's Republican and Democratic-NPL parties issue letters of support for candidates.

Baesler in 2016 sought and received the Republican Party's letter of support over Joe Chiang, a teacher at Four Winds Community High School in Fort Totten. She went on to defeat Chiang, who went unendorsed, with about 75% of the 2016 general election vote.

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Baesler said it's important to ensure the office serves all students in North Dakota "regardless of the parties or affiliation of their parents."

"I've worked very hard the last 7½ years to make sure that I'm working across both sides of the aisle, and I continue to intend to do that same thing," she said. "It's critically important."

In campaigning, Baesler said, she talks "to as many voters as I possibly can," visiting schools and communities to discuss education policy.

"I will go out and speak with anyone and everyone that wants to share their ideas and thoughts with me," she said. "I believe that's been a critical strand of how I've led."

Baesler in 2019 established her 23-member Family Engagement Cabinet to share ideas about how families and schools can better work together.

In 2015 she created her Student Cabinet comprising students in grades 4-12 from around North Dakota to solicit their thoughts on education issues.

"I invest a considerable amount of time in meeting with my administrator advisory committees and most importantly, continually, have consistent communication with the front-line teachers that are doing such an exemplary job," she said.

Baesler, 50, is a Flasher native who lives in Mandan. She has three adult sons.

Charles Tuttle, who was an unsuccessful independent candidate for North Dakota's lone U.S. House seat in 2018, also is seeking the state superintendent's office. In a campaign announcement last week, he said he wants "to Make North Dakota Schools Great Again."

Democratic-NPL Party spokesman Alex Rohr said a candidate has not yet sought the party's support, which would be decided at the party's state convention in March in Minot.

North Dakota's state superintendent sits on a number of state boards, including the Board of University and School Lands, the Teachers' Fund For Retirement Board and the newly established Children's Cabinet and Commission on Juvenile Justice.

The superintendent also chairs the State Board of Higher Education nominating committee to recommend names for the governor's appointment. An application period is open for a new member.

The state superintendent's annual salary is $122,810, and goes to $125,880 on July 1.

Reach Jack Dura at 701-250-8225 or jack.dura@bismarcktribune.com.

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