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Forum editorial: Walaker must be candid

All Fargo residents of good will hope Mayor Dennis Walaker will overcome what appears to be a serious illness. He is being treated for a specific cancer, renal cell carcinoma. In advanced stages, the prognosis for the kidney cancer can be bleak. But the mayor said last week through a spokesman that “he’s planning on being back in the saddle in two weeks or 10 days.”

Note the qualifier “planning on being back …” Reading between the lines suggests a plan could be different from what unfolds for the mayor in the next two weeks. The uncertainty for Walaker and the people of Fargo is of some concern. After all, he was easily re-elected in June after a campaign in which his health was an issue. It is imperative, therefore, that the mayor be as candid as possible about his prognosis.

In his first two terms, Walaker successfully redefined the mayor’s role – and the voters liked it. His steady and comforting style resonated from the beginning, and that quality of leadership carried him into a third four-year term. Under his watch the city has thrived. His unbending commitment to protecting the city from floods via the diversion project has again and again confirmed his visionary assessment of the city’s primary need.

His work is not done. His campaign theme highlighted the need for the diversion but also made clear his determination to see other projects through, including a new City Hall and convention center. All that being said, the mayor has to be transparent about both the seriousness of his illness, and his ability to function as mayor at a time when the demands of the office increase every day.

Walaker is a good mayor. Voters have re-elected him twice – recognition that he has his hand on the city’s pulse, and that the residents of the city trust and respect him. He needs to reciprocate by being up front with them about his medical condition. No matter what it is now or might become, the people of his city are with him.

Forum editorials represent the opinion of Forum management and the newspaper’s Editorial Board.

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