BISMARCK, N.D. — North Dakota State Auditor Robert Peterson on Wednesday told The Associated Press that he won’t seek a sixth term, marking an end of a more than four-decade father-son dynasty in the office. Peterson’s father, Robert W. Peterson, held the job for 24 years before his son was elected in 1996 as his successor. A few things to know about the 64-year-old Peterson, his tenure and the outlook after he departs:
Peterson, for a salary of $102,689, oversees an office with 59 employees and a two-year budget of $13.9 million. The agency inspects the financial ledgers of government agencies and North Dakota’s university system. Auditors also conduct “performance audits” designed to examine agency practices.
Peterson said two of the most memorable audits that spurred positive changes during his tenure have been those done at the state Workforce Safety and Insurance agency and the state Game and Fish Department.
The 2006 WSI audit reported low morale and management problems at the agency. The audit also found questionable spending that included meals and trips for some state legislators.
The Game and Fish audit done last year found that 100 firearms provided to volunteer hunter education instructors were missing.
Peterson took criticism in his first term for giving office workers paid time off for outings that included volleyball, bowling and horseshoe-pitching. He stopped the so-called “Bob days” after the practice was disclosed. Peterson still defends the practice as a morale-building exercise that lowered agency turnover.
THE ELDER PETERSON
Robert W. Peterson died in 2013. He was an auditor from 1973 to 1996 and in the North Dakota House of Representatives from 1967 to 1972. He also was Williston High School basketball coach. One of his stars was NBA legend Phil Jackson, who appeared in a television commercial touting Peterson’s re-election bid in 1989.
The elder Peterson defeated some of the state’s most prominent Democrats during his tenure, including former U.S. Sen. Kent Conrad and current Sen. Heidi Heitkamp.
GOP’S AUDITOR LOCK
The Petersons may seem like they’ve been around forever, but they’re just the latest in a long line of Republican dominance. The GOP has held the auditor’s office since 1894.
State Sen. Kelly Armstrong of Dickinson, the head of the state Republican Party, said he expected more than one candidate from his party to emerge.
Robert Haider, executive director of the North Dakota Democratic Party, said it’s time for a change after more than a century and two generations of officeholders from the same family.
“For every office that’s open, we’re recruiting the strongest candidates we can for those positions,” he said.
This article was written by James Macpherson from The Associated Press and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.