<< All News Tuesday, December 10, 2019 - 11:00pm

North Dakota's longest-serving state treasurer won't seek another term in 2020.

Treasurer Kelly Schmidt told the Tribune on Tuesday that she doesn't intend to run for a fifth four-year term.

"This is not something I have taken lightly," the Republican said. "I have thought about it. I have prayed about it. I have visited with my family about it. And it's just time for a new chapter. I think we all get to that point that it's time to turn the page, and I feel that it's my time."

Schmidt, 57, said she doesn't plan to retire. She plans to "look and see what other opportunities are available to me," but she has ruled out a run for future elected office.

"I don't see it in my future," she said.

Schmidt reached her decision over Thanksgiving with family.

"It's been a process I've been considering for a quite a while," she said.

North Dakota's treasurer is custodian of the state's funds and sits on several state boards, such as the State Historical Board, State Investment Board and State Canvassing Board.

She was first elected in 2004, taking office in January 2005. She succeeded Democrat Kathi Gilmore, who served 12 years. Schmidt won reelection in 2016 to her fourth term with about 63% of the vote.

In her tenure, Schmidt has seen technology advancements in the treasurer's office, growing state tax revenues from the Bakken oil boom and development of the oil tax savings Legacy Fund. 

State lawmakers in recent years have attempted to eliminate the treasurer's office and transfer its functions to other state agencies. Sen. Tim Mathern, D-Fargo, pledged as his party's nominee in 2016 for treasurer to close the office to save money. The 2017 Legislature defeated similar, bipartisan measures.

Schmidt doesn't see that effort continuing, and she also urges her successor to "don't let anyone silence your voice."

"I think there have been times that I have remained very quiet for fear of retaliation for this office," she said. "All you have to do is look at the legislation that's come forward."

She pointed to added roles and responsibilities the Legislature has given the treasurer during her tenure as a reason her office is likely to stay -- most notably, the so-called "Operation Prairie Dog" fund, which will distribute oil tax revenue for local infrastructure projects.

Democratic-NPL Party Chairwoman Kylie Oversen thanked Schmidt for "her many years of service to the state," and told the Tribune she sees the open seat as "an opportunity for North Dakotans to have a conversation about the role of the State Treasurer moving forward." Oversen said the office "needs to be examined and possibly refocused."


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