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Third candidate enters race for North Dakota K-12 chief

Third candidate enters race for North Dakota K-12 chief

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A third candidate has emerged in the race for North Dakota superintendent of public instruction.

Underwood School District Superintendent/Activities Director Brandt J. Dick announced his candidacy on Thursday in a news release.

"It has been decades since a school superintendent has been in the role of ND State Superintendent," Dick said in his statement. "The value of having intimate knowledge of school district operations is critical to overall success of our schools in North Dakota, and the ability to retain quality staff at the school district and state level is vital."

Dick, a 49-year-old Munich native, has a 25-year career in education, including positions such as teacher, principal, activities director, superintendent and adjunct college instructor. He started at Underwood in 2011, and was dually the superintendent for Hazelton-Moffit-Braddock until 2014.

He is a member of several boards, including the North Dakota Association of School Administrators. He also has been one of several school district officials to join the Legislature's interim Education Funding Formula Review Committee to provide input.

Dick's announcement comes about a week after State Superintendent Kirsten Baesler's Feb. 26 arrest on suspicion of drunken driving. Baesler is seeking a third term and the Republican Party's letter of support for the job. Political parties issue letters of support for candidates for state superintendent, which is a nonpartisan position. 

Baesler has said she intends to seek counseling and treatment and plead guilty to a drunken driving-related charge believed to be pending. She has been cited for care required.

She declined an interview with the Tribune on Thursday to discuss her arrest and decision to seek treatment.

Dick said he had been considering a bid before Baesler's arrest, which he said was "not really" a factor in his decision to run. He said he made his final decision earlier this week. 

"It'll be up to the North Dakota voters to decide that whole process and I'll just leave it at that," he told the Tribune.

Dick said it would be "too early to comment in full" on whether he plans to seek a political party's letter of support for state superintendent. But he does plan to be on the June 9 statewide primary ballot, from which voters determine political parties' nominees for the general election.

Charles Tuttle also is seeking the state superintendent's job. He was an unsuccessful U.S. House candidate in 2018 and is seeking the GOP letter of support. He has said he intends to challenge Baesler on K-12 education issues rather than on her personal history.

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.

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

North Dakota's Democratic-NPL and Republican parties will gather later this month for their state conventions, at which delegates will endorse candidates for state and congressional offices.

The filing deadline is April 6 for candidates to be on the primary ballot.

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

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