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Flier targeting Dave Piepkorn as ‘out of line’ stirs Fargo City Commission race

A mailer sent by Bismarck-based Brighter Future Alliance attacked Fargo City Commissioner Dave Piepkorn, calling attention to an incident in which Piepkorn 'apparently showed his middle finger' to another commissioner. Piepkorn called the flier "dirty politics" and said it's a sign he's winning.

Piepkorn attack mailer May 2022.jpg
This 8½-by-11-inch cardboard mailer highlights news reports of an incident in the Fargo City Commission Chambers between Dave Piepkorn and Tony Gehrig.
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FARGO — The Fargo City Commission race took an inflammatory twist when a mailer attacking Commissioner Dave Piepkorn’s behavior as “inexcusable” and “out of line” appeared in mail boxes all over the city.

The 8½-by-11-inch cardboard mailer highlights news reports of an incident in the Fargo City Commission Chambers in which Piepkorn “apparently showed his middle finger ” to fellow Commissioner Tony Gehrig at a meeting in July 2021.

“Time and again, Piepkorn has proven he’s unfit to lead,” the flier said. “His fellow City Commissioners have called his behavior ‘embarrassing’ while he’s been referred to nationally as ‘the stupidest local politician in America.”

Piepkorn called the mailer “dirty politics” and an indication that someone is worried that he will be elected to another four-year term on the five-member City Commission.

“I would say I’m very flattered because obviously if you’re not winning, you’re not targeted,” he said Saturday, May 21. “I didn’t realize I had that much influence.”

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Deputy Mayor Dave Piepkorn responds to Police Chief David Zibolski and City Attorney to-be Nancy Morris after hearing some of their proposed changes to city liquor rules on Tuesday, Dec. 14, 2021, at Fargo City Hall.
Alyssa Goelzer/Forum Communications Co.

Piepkorn said he couldn’t think of another instance of an attack ad, not obviously on behalf of a candidate, circulating in a Fargo City Commission race. Two commission seats and the mayor’s office are up in the June 14 election.

The mailing was paid for by the Bismarck-based Brighter Future Alliance. Pat Finken, chairman of the Brighter Future Alliance, said of the nonprofit organization, " ... we do not and will not coordinate with any political party, campaign, or candidate."

The Brighter Future Alliance was formed 10 years ago and has been involved in statewide politics.

"Independent expenditures like in the Fargo Commission election compromise only a small part of our overall mission," Finken said in a statement. "Our main effort includes activities like voter mobilization, and issue advocacy and education."

Piepkorn said the flier attacking him is the latest twist in the hotly contested election.

“There’s been some very unusual things going on in this campaign,” he said.

Piepkorn noted that Gov. Doug Burgum gave a plug for Shannon Roers Jones, a legislator who is seeking to unseat Mayor Tim Mahoney, at the North Dakota Republican Party convention.

Such an endorsement in a flagrantly partisan setting is highly unusual in a nonpartisan city election, Piepkorn said. Also, certain city candidates were not invited to a Fargo City Commission candidate forum hosted by the Cass County United Republican Committee.

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“I was instructed not to come,” Piepkorn said. “There’s lots of interesting stuff going on. It’s just crazy.”

Despite the attack and the snubbing, Piepkorn predicted that he will win another term, along with Mahoney.

“I’m looking forward to the election,” he said. “If you’re attacking, it means you don’t have a good story to tell about yourself.”

Earlier this month, Piepkorn harshly criticized developer Jim Roers, who failed to complete a row of townhouses intended to be a buffer for the Roosevelt neighborhood for a development featuring a new Newman Center and apartments.

Piepkorn repeatedly called Roers a liar , saying he never intended to build the townhomes. Roers said the townhomes have been delayed by traffic congestion and skyrocketing materials costs.

Roers Jones, who is Jim Roers’ daughter, is general counsel and a real estate broker at Roers Companies.

The Brighter Future Alliance, which has a history of supporting Republican candidates in North Dakota, describes its mission as working "to advance the cause of freedom and free enterprise to further the common good and general welfare of the citizens of North Dakota and the United States."

The Brighter Future Alliance has reported spending $45,502 as of May 20 in the 2022 election cycle, according to a filing with the North Dakota Secretary of State's Office.

Patrick Springer first joined The Forum in 1985. He covers a wide range of subjects including health care, energy and population trends. Email address: pspringer@forumcomm.com
Phone: 701-367-5294
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