Several nurses ran for public office in North Dakota during the 2018 campaign.

Judy Estenson ran for Senate in District 23 of North Dakota (Devils Lake). Kristin Roers ran and was elected to the North Dakota Senate in District 27 (Fargo), and Carrie Wallace ran for Senate in District 19. Karen Rohr ran for re-election in District 31 for the House of Representatives.

Senator Kristin Roers participated in a Q&A for this month’s newsletter to provide some insight on her campaign and how she’ll utilize her nursing background as she serves in the North Dakota Senate.

Q: What motivated you to run for public office in North Dakota?

A: I have always loved the political process – starting when I was first exposed to it in high school. I love the give and take, but the thing that interested me most, is the same thing that brought me to nursing, the ability to make people’s lives better; to make a difference – just now on a bigger scale.

Q: You’ve been involved in politics for a while, including acting as the legislative liaison for the NDNA. That said, was there anything new or surprising that you learned or experienced throughout the course of your campaign?

As the Vice President of Government Relations for the North Dakota Nurses Association, I was exposed to small parts of the legislating process – bill drafting, testifying, or tracking bills. As a candidate, I was exposed to a totally different side of the process. Door knocking was an eye opening experience – with the amount of miles and doors I needed to cover, I had to start early and many people were not in the election mindset. By the end, people were ready to be done with the process – so there is a really small sweet spot! Most people are happy you made the effort to come to their door. I expected to get more negative reactions, but people, even if they disagreed with me, were very cordial and respectful.

Q: As the legislative session approaches, what will your priorities be this session?

A: With this being my first session as a legislator, I am keeping my eyes (and my mind) wide open – to learn as much as I can while I am there. I don’t have any specific bills that I want to bring forth this year, but will be keeping my eyes open for bills that I affect areas I am passionate about – including all healthcare related bills, mental health especially.

Q: How will your background in nursing play a role in your political career?

A: As a nurse, I have had to learn to be able to talk to anyone, to be able to teach people about things that would normally be totally foreign. I think these skills will be an asset, especially as I sit on the Human Services Committee. My firsthand knowledge of the healthcare system, along with my experience in Human Resources, will give me a unique perspective as issues come forward.

Q: What advice would you give to other nurses who are interested in becoming involved in local, state, or federal politics who perhaps have no prior experience in those areas?

A: “We in America do not have government by the majority. We have government by the majority who participate” ~Thomas Jefferson.

First thing, meet people who are involved – reach out to your elected officials. They want to know what you know and how you feel. Tell them you are a constituent, tell them what they need to know and how you want them to vote. Second, volunteer – whether it’s on an election campaign, with a professional organization’s advocacy efforts, or on a Center for Nursing Team. Finally, share your knowledge and your passion with your fellow nurses. We all will be better for it!