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Sanford ready to 'decompress' after leaving state government

Former North Dakota Lieutenant Governor Brent Sanford said he had been considering leaving state government for several months before his official retirement of January 2nd.

Sanford was Gov. Doug Burgum’s first Lieutenant Governor. They were elected in 2016.

Sanford said his retirement date of January 2nd came about because of numerous conversations with Burgum.

"He really, really, really was insistent that I stay on and help through the budget," Sanford said in an interview with Prairie Public. "I accepted that — it's a role, and I was able to have a special part in the administration with my skill set."

Sanford said then you end up with an awkward time between the budget and the State of the State address.

"None of it is ideal," Sanford said. "But it was just time."

Sanford was made “point person” on a number of energy related issues – such as the sale of the Coal Creek Station power plant to Bismarck-based Rainbow Energy – and the development of the ADM soybean crushing plant at Spiritwood, near Jamestown.

"Whether it's sustainable aviation fuel, or low emission gasoline with ethanol, or low emission diesel, the renewable component with soybeans — that's happening in North Dakota," Sanford said. "We're at the tip of the spear."

Sanford said the project is the epitome of it. He said big oil — Marathon — and big ag, ADM, came together for the project.

Sanford said he plans to “decompress” before getting back into the private sector. And he says for now, he plans to stay in Bismarck. He was asked if he had second thoughts about resigning.

"I have actually had less second thoughts than I thought I would," Sanford said. "After 17 years of having the bat-phone, it feels good to decompress. It was just time."

The full interview can be heard on the Jan. 3rd "Main Street."