The Race for Burleigh County Sheriff; A look at the Candidates

KX News is your local election headquarters. We’re introducing you to two candidates in Burleigh County’s highly contested race for sheriff. Malique Rankin has a look at what the two candidates bring to the table. 

In the Burleigh County Sheriff’s race, both candidates have experience in law enforcement.

Kelly Leben: “I think that what makes the best candidates is I have 6 years of military experience, where I learned a lot of leadership traits and had the opportunity to lead people in high-stress situations. Immediately after my military service, I went to work at the sheriff’s department.”

Nolan Canright: “I have a diversified background. I was a Bismarck Police Officer for almost a dozen years. Not only that, I went to obtain my master’s in business administration.”

A controversy that has surfaced in this election is over an aggravated assault allegation against Kelly Leben 4 years ago. In the police report I obtained from the Nelson County Sheriff’s office, it claims Leben put his 14-year-old nephew in a headlock until his face was purple and arms went limp. No charges were ever filed in the case.

Kelly Leben: “To me, at that time, I thought it was a non-issue, and wasn’t even aware a police report was filed.”

Nolan Canright: “That’s something, that if I get into office, it will be looked into. What happened there, there was a report made of domestic violence which was at felony level. However, it was never investigated.”

If elected, Canright says he hopes to start making changes on day one.

Nolan Canright: “I want to start looking, just how I developed a program to target theft, but taking that same approach here in the community in being more proactive towards crime.”

Leben says he hopes to address the drug problem and work to better rural communities.

Kelly Leben: “I want to look at all of the programs we’re currently using and make sure they’re still effective. And if they are effective, how can we build on them. More importantly, what can we do differently to make sure we’re addressing crime in Burleigh County and making sure the citizens are safe.”

Both candidates say it’s up to the voters to decide who deserves to wear the sheriff’s badge.

Tomorrow the two will face off in a debate hosted by the League of Women Voters. The forum will be held in the Tom Baker Meeting Room, City/County Office Building, 221 North Fifth Street, Bismarck, ND and begin promptly at 5:30pm. The debate will be aired on Government Access cable channels 2 and 602 HD, KDAK 102.5 fm radio, and streamed on

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