Ward Koeser

Former Williston mayor E. Ward Koeser.

Williston’s former longtime mayor has been selected to join the state’s newly formed Ethics Commission.

The office of North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum released a statement on Thursday, Aug. 8, stating that a committee tasked with selecting members for the Commission had chosen its first five members, including E. Ward Koeser, who served as Williston’s mayor for 20 years.

Koeser is a former teacher, military veteran and business owner who served from 1994 to 2004 as President of the Williston City Commission.

Koeser said he was convinced by City Commissioner and District 1 Sen. Brad Bekkedahl to apply for the position, and was selected from a pool of around 70 other applicants. The selection committee consisted of Burgum, Senate Majority Leader Rich Wardner, R-Dickinson and Senate Minority Leader Joan Heckaman, D-New Rockford. The committee had its fourth meeting on Aug. 8, where they reached a consensus and appointed the members of the five person commission.

According to the release, the committee will also consist of David B. Anderson of Bismarck, a retired brigadier general in the North Dakota National Guard who now works as coordinator of military student services at the University of Mary; Ronald Goodman of Oakes, a former attorney and retired judge who served as a district court judge from 1994 to 2006; Cynthia Lindquist of Devils Lake, who has served as president of Cankdeska Cikana Community College in Fort Totten since 2013 and Paul Richard of Fargo, a retired executive vice president and former general counsel at Sanford Medical Center. Koeser said he was unsure about what his role within the commission will be, as it is newly established. He and the others will begin their work on the commission starting on Sept. 1.

“It’s a new commission that’s being set up, so we have to kind of start from ground zero and establish rules and guidelines and policies and things like that,” he explained. “It will be very interesting. I really don’t know what to expect, but we’ll do our best and see what happens.”

Voters approved a constitutional amendment in November 2018 to establish an Ethics Commission “to strengthen the confidence of the people of North Dakota in their government, and to support open, ethical, and accountable government.”

The news release adds that clarifying legislation approved in April requires the commission members’ terms to be staggered. Assuming all accept the appointments, Goodman and Lindquist will each serve a four-year term, Anderson will serve a three-year term and Koeser and Richard will each serve a two-year term, effective Sept. 1.

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