Potter turns in signatures for DPI race

BISMARCK–Former Bismarck state senator Tracy Potter turned in signatures to the secretary of state’s office this morning to earn a spot on the primary ballot for the superintendent of public instruction race.

The secretary of state’s office will review Potter’s paperwork to ensure it meets the criteria for placing his name on the ballot.

Potter said he collected about 340 signatures, more than the 300 required.

Potter did not seek political party support for the race and is running as an independent for the nonpartisan office. 

He is executive director of the Fort Abraham Lincoln Foundation and served as a Bismarck state senator from 2007-2011. He also ran for the U.S. Senate against John Hoeven in 2010.

Potter said every political contest is a hiring decision by the people.

“The job interview starts now,” he said. 

Potter emphasized his qualifications for the job, saying he has experience in the classroom and managing a large office. 

Potter has a master’s degree in history from the University of North Dakota. He taught high school history for two years in Flaxton, N.D., and was a substitute teacher and graduate teaching assistant. He said his position at the Fort Abraham Lincoln Foundation also involves public education.

He said he’s concerned about the push for standardized testing in K-12 education, saying it narrows curriculum and results in teaching to the test and cheating.

Potter said the best thing to do for students is “give their teachers excellent training at our state colleges, mentoring throughout their careers and the active support of parents and administrators.”

He said it’s a harder road to winning an election without party support but said it was the appropriate one for a nonpartisan office. He believes his appearances in every North Dakota county during his Senate campaign will help him with this election.

Mandan School Board President Kirsten Baesler received Republican support for the office at the party’s state convention earlier this month. Max Laird of Bismarck, a former president of the North Dakota Education Association,  received support from the Democratic-NPL Party.

All three candidates will appear on the June primary ballot. Voters will narrow the field to two candidates for the November election.

Superintendent Wayne Sanstead is not seeking another term to the office.