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Bismarck mayoral candidates, from left, Steve Bakken, incumbent Mayor Mike Seminary and the Rev. Isaac Afoakwa participate in a debate organized by the League of Women Voters held at the North Dakota Heritage Center.

Mayor Mike Seminary suffered a lapse in judgment when he had city officials issue a press release about the city budget. The release was worded like campaign literature, touting the city’s (i.e., Seminary’s) accomplishments.

The release was sent Monday using the city’s email address, letterhead and mailing list. It also was posted online using the city’s social media platforms.

The Tribune believes this was an unfair use of city resources by a political candidate.

City Administrator Keith Hunke said the mayor asked him to issue the release. Seminary defended his action to the Tribune, saying, "We'll be going into the budget process shortly, and I felt it was important, given I've had previous conversations with Keith Hunke about cuts and efficiencies, to get this information out in advance of our meetings."

You can send out an announcement of a meeting without turning it into a political ad. Bragging about “exceptional delivery systems everyone has come to know and expect” and "We are nationally recognized for the quality of our city services” isn’t necessary when informing citizens about an upcoming budget meeting. If Seminary wanted to tell residents about the meeting he should have had Hunke or someone else write the release using the basic details. Instead, Seminary used city resources to further his campaign with a little more than a week until the election. It was a clumsy effort on his part.

Especially since Seminary ran an ad in the Sunday Tribune using the same language and examples as he placed in the release.

It’s also disappointing that Hunke or someone else at the city offices didn’t stop Seminary from issuing the release. We shouldn’t allow anyone to turn city offices into campaign headquarters. Seminary should issue a public apology.

Seminary was unchallenged when he won his first term as mayor. This time, Steve Bakken and Isaac Afoakwa are running against him. They deserve a level playing field.

This year’s primary has taken some interesting turns.

Republican Will Gardner dropped out of the secretary of state’s race after it was reported that he pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct in a peeping tom case.

On Sunday, District 47 Republicans ran an ad in the Tribune attacking Republican Duane Sand, who is challenging GOP incumbents George Keiser and Lawrence Klemin for a House nomination. Keiser filed a police report against Sand, arguing that a campaign mailer by Sand violated state law.

It’s unusual to see this much infighting by Republicans.

The digital world has made it easier for campaigns to research an opponent’s past. On the surface some court records might sound ominous, but a closer look reveals the court actions to be part of doing business.

Lively, competitive races are good for democracy. Everyone needs to play fair and that means explaining any accusations against an opponent. Voters need to be cautious about last-minute revelations.

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