I can take a stab at the question as well. I was in high school when all this was going on.
There was no oil boom at that time and the farm economy was in the crapper due to several years of drought. The thought was to get this cool oversized wallye and tourists would come.
At the time nobody around there realized what other invasives would due like the carp we talk about now. Most of the objections were coming from Canada. ND was so starved for help on the economy that was the driving factor.
Other factors included a significant lack of environmentalism overall.
Another would be some of the prior experience with other invasives such as pheasants. The late 80’s was when pay to hunt got it’s foothold. Sucked for those of us where were locals without cash but good for the economy and the farmers. Could Zander bring in the MN fisherman with fat wallets?
Hindsight is 20/20 I suppose. At the time I thought zander was a great idea. It was supposed to be a landlocked lake(who knew lakes flood?). Now I look back and can’t believe this was even tried.