By Charly Haley

Gov. Jack Dalrymple announcing Monday that he will not run for re-election next year drew a range of reactions from local state legislators and other leaders.

Several Grand Forks leaders said they were surprised by Dalrymple's announcement. Both Republican and Democratic legislators said they'll miss the Republican governor, who has served more than five years in his current position and more than 30 years as a politician in North Dakota.

"I think it surprised members of both parties in North Dakota," said Senate Minority Leader Mac Schneider, D-Grand Forks. "I think Gov. Dalrymple has always had a strong relationship with legislators of both parties from Grand Forks."

He and others pointed to UND's new medical school, plans for the city's new water treatment plant and other projects as examples Dalrymple's attention to Grand Forks.

Sen. Lonnie Laffen, R-Grand Forks, was one of few to say he was not surprised by Dalrymple's announcement, due to recent speculation about if he would run. Laffen, like many others, touted Dalrymple's accessibility to Grand Forks leaders.

"We've always had a fair hearing from the governor's office," Schneider added. "We may have disagreed on some policies ... but whatever the case, you could always count on the governor to treat you with respect."

Pete Haga, community/government relations officer for the city of Grand Forks, said city leaders are grateful they have always felt able to openly communicate with Dalrymple about the city's needs and legislative priorities.

The city's top legislative priority this past session was to attain about $65 million in state funding for a new water treatment plant. That money was allocated partly due to Dalrymple's support, said City Council member Ken Vein, who is a co-chairman of the city's Legislative Committee.

"I think he was responsive and willing to listen to all of our needs," Vein said.

Local legislators also thanked Dalrymple for his support of UND and the local unmanned aircraft systems industry.

"He has been with us all the way with the UAS and Grand Sky, which are both very important for Grand Forks," said Sen. Ray Holmberg, R-Grand Forks, referring to the in-progress Grand Sky business park focused on UAS.

In an emailed statement, UND President Robert Kelley thanked Dalrymple for his support of funding the renovation of the university's law school and construction on the new School of Medicine and Health Sciences building.

"We are going to miss him," Holmberg said. "I was very surprised. I felt that he was going to run again."

Schneider and North Dakota Democratic Party Chairwoman Kylie Oversen, of Grand Forks, both said the Democrats are working on recruiting candidates for the 2016 gubernatorial election.

Dalrymple's announcement Monday doesn't change that recruiting work, but it will make the race more competitive, Oversen said.

(c)2015 the Grand Forks Herald (Grand Forks, N.D.)