Allen I. Olson

Allen I. Olson (born November 5, 1938 in Rolla, North Dakota) is a Republican politician and lawyer who served as the 28th Governor of North Dakota from 1981 to 1985. He defeated incumbent Arthur A. Link in the 1980 race for Governor and served one term.


Allen Olson was born on November 5, 1938 in the small town of Rolla, North Dakota. Olson received a law degree from the University of North Dakota and served in the United States Army as a judge advocate general's corps lawyer. In 1967 he served as Chief of Military Justice in Munich, West Germany. From 1967 to 1969 he served as the assistant director of the Legislative Research Committee, which directed the state's first study of strip mining, soil banks, and land reclamation. Olson entered a private law practice in 1969 under the law firm of Conmy, Rosenberg, Lucas and Olson. He ran for attorney general in 1972, and served two terms in that position.

Years as Governor

In 1980, Allen Olson sought the governor's office and he successfully defeated incumbent Governor Arthur A. Link that year. Olson's achievements during his term include the creation of the Department of Human Services, and the conversion of the Cross-Ranch to a state park. He also worked with the Task Force on Drunk Driving and supported the Garrison Diversion program. A controversial lawsuit against the state by the Association of Retarded Citizens was also filed during Olson's years as governor. Olson served one four year term, and ran for re-election in 1984, but was defeated by George Sinner.

Later life

After losing the election and leaving office, he returned to private law practice in Bismarck for a year before leaving to Minneapolis to joing the law firm of Fredrikson and Byron. In 1987, he left the firm to become co-owner of a die-casting company out of New Hope, MN. Olson is a commissioner of the International Joint Commission of Canada and the United States, and was appointed to that position by President George W. Bush in 2002.

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