WILLISTON, N.D. – One of Williston’s most visible Measure 2 supporters lives in an RV and has never paid property taxes in the state.
But Palmer Reising says just because he’s from Ohio doesn’t mean he and other newcomers to North Dakota are second-class citizens.
“I’m an American. I’m from Cincinnati,” Reising said. “I take very, very seriously my obligation, my responsibility to be informed and to defend liberty and freedom for all, wherever.”
Reising, who moved to Williston in January, takes every spare moment to talk to people about Measure 2 and educate newcomers about how they can vote. He often takes stacks of business cards with information about Measure 2 to Wal-Mart or grocery stores and can hand out 250 in less than two hours.
Reising, who worked on political campaigns in Ohio, also was a delegate to the North Dakota Republican Convention and actively participates in local meetings and open forums.
In Williston’s recent Band Day parade, Reising dressed up in all black as the “tax man” and took candy that was thrown to children. Reising, who said he would be more reserved if he could do it over again, said he only kept the candy once and dropped it back on the ground the other times.
“Granted, I was very scary to the kids. But the tax man is scary,” Reising said. “There’s a very apt analogy there. That’s what the tax man does. It’s ours and the tax man comes and takes it.”
The property tax issue is personal for Reising.
His mother is on a fixed income in Ohio and pays about $7,000 a year in property taxes. The taxes she owes are a major reason she had to take a reverse mortgage out on her house, Reising said.
“I don’t want anyone to face that,” he said.
Being able to help his mother financially is one of the main reasons Reising moved to North Dakota, where he works for a diversified oil field services company.
“A majority of what I earn will go to others, my mother in particular,” Reising said.
Not everyone appreciates Reising’s passion.
Ken Callahan of Williston, chairman of the District 1 Republican Party, said the parade skit was going too far.
“The guy’s a decent guy. He’s very intelligent,” Callahan said. “But he pushes it to the extreme.”
At a Measure 2 debate in Bowman, an exchange between Reising and Andy Peterson, president of the North Dakota Chamber of Commerce, grew heated and Peterson requested a police officer in the room to come over to monitor the situation.
Peterson has said Reising’s body language was threatening, but Reising maintained that he was 6 feet from the podium and that the police officer’s presence was an effort to intimidate him.
Reising has also been asked to leave businesses where he was distributing cards.
Recently, he worked to oppose an ordinance in Williston that would make it illegal to live in an RV within city limits. Reising, who lives just outside of the city limits in his 1985 Winnebago, has also been instrumental in finding newcomers places to live and played a role in a new RV park that will designate affordable spots.
“I’m extremely thankful for the opportunities and blessings I’ve been given here in North Dakota,” Reising said.
Charles Cartier, who also participated in the Measure 2 parade float, said he enjoys seeing newcomers like Reising getting involved in politics.
“Just because he doesn’t own property here today, that doesn’t mean down the road he won’t,” Cartier said.