By Tilden Bird
Enrolled member of the Mandan, Hidatsa, Arikara Nation, Cesar Alvarez is running for the North Dakota House of Representatives on the Democratic side of the party line. Alvarez is seeking office in North Dakota’s District 4, which is home to the entire Fort Berthold Reservation and communities including portions of Dunn, McKenzie, McLean, Mercer, Mountrail and Ward Counties.
Alvarez, 25, is a native of New Town and member of the Knife clan. His parents are Marcy Young Bear and Cesar Alvarez Sr. His grandmother is Maggie Young Bear and his great-grandparents are the late Ivan Young Bear and the late Louella Young Bear-Benson. While attending New Town High School, Alvarez took college courses and completed 24 credits before graduating as valedictorian in 2009.
“I remember him being all-state band, chorus, he made it to the state speech tournament. I remember that. It seems like he was class president too,” said New Town School Superintendent Marc Bluestone. “He was a very good, active student.”
“He was always a good kid,” said New Town Mayor, Dan Uran. “I’ve been impressed with what he’s done with his life.
Alvarez feels that a combination of things compelled him to run for office including his desire to be involved in his community and his compassion to give back.
One of the memories which stands out for Alvarez of giving back was helping raise $3,000 in elementary school to donate to the New York City Red Cross shortly after the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
“That was kind of where I really found this passion for giving back and public service,” said Alvarez. “I felt really good about that.”
With a degree in Government, Alvarez has spent time working for Councilwoman Brugh, Councilman Eagle, Councilman Hall, the TAT Legal Department, former Senator Kent Conrad and the National Congress of American Indians.
Faced with the challenge of representing a district that contains many enrolled and non-enrolled residents, Alvarez feels that the concerns of the people do not differ greatly.
“I think a lot of the issues are the same. More times than what people would think,” said Alvarez. “I think we’re all impacted by the Bakken, whether you’re in New Town or Four Bears Village or Kenmare. I think we’ve all seen the positive effects of growth and development. And also some of the social economic adverse effects. We have higher crime, higher cost of living, under-developed infrastructure.”
“I don’t really think there’s a whole lot of difference, in all honesty. I think we’re kind of all one in many areas. Especially when it comes to our needs and wants. We all want affordable housing. Housing’s been an issue on the reservation for as long as I remember. But it’s been an issue just as much in Western North Dakota and rural communities,” Alvarez said.
Alvarez, a 2013 Harvard graduate, is a very strong believer in education.
“I think in investing in communities is an important thing. Access to education, quality education, is extremely important,” Alvarez stated. “Look at the beautiful school we just had open in Watford City about a month ago, a few weeks ago. Beautiful facility. We could have one of those in every one of our communities, which we should because schools are the focal point of every community in western North Dakota anyways.”
While Alvarez feels voting is important, he feels it is especially important for younger voters to make their voices heard.
“It’s so important that we get young people to participate. No matter how you vote it’s important. We need that fresh perspective,” said Alvarez.
“I really think it’s time we get more people involved,” Alvarez stated. “We have a lot of people who served in our state for many years and I think it’s time that we start stepping up as younger people and get more involved.”
Alvarez encourages District 4 residents to attend his upcoming campaign events if they support him or even if they are simply curious about his take on issues. District 4 residents are also encouraged to attend because Alvarez wants to hear their take on issues.
“I want to hear from them. My campaign will not be me just simply dictating what I think we need,” Alvarez said.
Alvarez’s campaign is not yet in full swing. He is currently developing his campaign platform, a team of advisors, and his online presence in the form of a website and social media outlets. Alvarez is also getting ready for the state convention at the end of March and discussing issues of concern with residents of District 4.
“I fully support him in his run,” said Bluestone. “I think he would not forget who he is and where he came from and how it fits into the big picture. At the same time, making competent decisions on behalf of everyone because he seems to be that kind of guy. He’s not just going to say ‘I’m only going to support this’ and not look at the whole picture, and take a look at the worldview of it. And I think he’ll do a great job.”
“I think he’ll be an excellent representative,” said Uran.
“I would be honored if I did get the opportunity to serve, get elected to serve the people of District 4 on the state level. And I would serve them with one hundred percent of me in it,” Alvarez stated. “I am somebody who is an avid listener. I’ve always been that way. I’ve always liked to work ground up. I’ve never been somebody who likes to work top down. I believe thoroughly in collaboration and cooperation and building partnerships on many levels.”
“I think that a vote for me is kind of a partnership,” continued Alvarez. “We’re partnering together to bring some change to Bismarck.”
Alvarez encourages residents of District 4 to learn more about him and his campaign as well as share their thoughts and concerns on Facebook on the page “Cesar Alvarez for ND House of Representatives” or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. He is also currently working on a website for his campaign.
Additionally, Alvarez will be holding his campaign kickoff event in early April in New Town.
“The campaign kickoff event will allow an opportunity for individuals to get to know me, learn of the issues I’m concerned about and am running on, provide an opportunity to hear from district residents directly on issues and ideas that are important to them to help shape my campaign, and an opportunity for interested residents and voters to sign up and get involved with my campaign,” stated Alvarez.
Alvarez was nominated as a Democratic candidate for District 4 of North Dakota’s House Representatives in Max, ND, on Feb. 21. He will be attending the North Dakota Democratic State Convention, which will be held March 31 through April 2 in Bismarck, ND.
North Dakota is separated into 47 districts with each district possessing two house representatives and one senator. Elections will be held on Nov. 8, 2016.