Brent Sanford resigns as Lieutenant Governor

Photo by: North Dakota Governor's Office
Photo by: North Dakota Governor's Office

(Bismarck, ND) -- A shocking decision coming out of Bismarck ahead of the upcoming legislative session January 3rd.

WDAY Radio has learned that Governor Doug Burgum has announced the resignation of Lieutenant Governor Brent Sanford, thanking him for his six years of outstanding service to the citizens of North Dakota. Sanford’s last day in office will be January 2nd.

Sanford has served as North Dakota’s 38th lieutenant governor since he and Burgum took office December 15th, 2016. They were re-elected to a second four-year term in 2020. In a statement that accompanied his resignation letter, Sanford cited a desire to return to the private sector and focus on his family and career. Sanford is a certified public accountant who served as mayor of Watford City and owned and operated a third-generation auto dealership there prior to running for statewide office with Burgum in 2016.

“We are deeply grateful for Brent’s exceptional service to the State of North Dakota and its citizens these last six years,” Burgum said. “From his leadership on key issues including energy, child care and economic development, to his influential work with the legislative branch as president of the Senate, to his leadership as the governor’s designee on multiple state boards, Brent has made a positive impact on North Dakota’s citizens, economy and communities far and wide. It’s been an honor to serve with him, and we wish him, Sandi and their children all the best in their future endeavors.”

Sanford is currently among the longest-serving lieutenant governors in the nation as well as one of the longest-serving in North Dakota’s history. He has spent nearly 17 years in public service, serving as mayor of Watford City for 10½ years and lieutenant governor for six years.

“Serving the citizens of North Dakota as lieutenant governor has been the honor of a lifetime, and this was not an easy decision,” Sanford said. “The opportunities to make a difference in the lives of North Dakotans – from solving budget challenges and helping save Coal Creek Station, to negotiating tribal tax agreements and supporting UAS expansion, to providing tax relief and launching our Clean Sustainable Energy efforts, to working with the Legislature to ensure that our state emerged strong from the pandemic – it’s been an incredible ride and I’m forever thankful to Governor Burgum and the voters of North Dakota for entrusting me with this responsibility. After serving the last one-third of my life as an elected official, I’m looking forward to working closer with the private sector again and focusing on my family and career.”

Burgum will announce his appointment to serve the remaining two years of Sanford’s term during a press conference at 12:15 p.m. Tuesday in Memorial Hall of the State Capitol. The press conference will be live-streamed on the governor’s Facebook page. A source close to the legislature believes Burgum will announce State of North Dakota COO Tammy Miller will take the reigns for Sanford.

"Kris and I thank Lieutenant Governor Sanford for his work for and dedication to our great state during the past six years," said U.S. Senator Kevin Cramer in a statement released to WDAY Radio. "Brent’s long and decorated career in public service took him from beloved mayor of Watford City to a staple in Bismarck. His particular attention to the policies surrounding our energy and natural resources have made our state and nation stronger. North Dakota is a better place because of his mark. We wish him and his family all the best in this next chapter.”

The lieutenant governor serves as president of the state Senate and chairs the Capitol Grounds Planning Commission, North Dakota Trade Office, Task Force for Military Issues in North Dakota, Northern Plains Unmanned Systems Authority, Early Childhood Education Council and Clean Sustainable Energy Authority. Sanford also has served as the governor’s designee in chairing the State Investment Board, State Board of Equalization, Higher Education Challenge Fund Commission and State Water Commission. He also served as an ex-officio member of the EmPower Commission.