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Fargo Mayor Tim Mahoney announces reelection bid, pledges to be 'full-time' mayor

Mahoney declared his bid for reelection on Tuesday, Feb. 1, joining at least four others on the June ballot.

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Fargo Mayor Dr. Tim Mahoney officially announces his candidacy for reelection Tuesday, Feb. 1, 2022, at the Dr. James Carlson Library.
Michael Vosburg/The Forum
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FARGO — Incumbent Tim Mahoney has announced his intention to run for another term as mayor of North Dakota’s largest city and pledged he would be a “full-time” mayor if reelected.

The declaration brings the number of candidates who’ve said they’d like to lead the city of Fargo to five. Besides Mahoney, North Dakota Rep. Shannon Roers Jones, City Commissioner Arlette Preston, community organizer Hukun Dabar and political newcomer Dustin Elliott have filed the necessary paperwork or said they will seek the office.

Last time Mahoney ran for mayor, he was unopposed.

During a Tuesday, Feb. 1, news conference at James Carlson Public Library, he said he welcomes the competition this time around.

Mahoney, a medical doctor, also said he would retire from his surgical practice at Lake Region Healthcare in Fergus Falls, Minnesota, this June, capping off 43 years of doing surgery.

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Though it will be difficult to give that up, he said, the mayor’s job needs his full attention.

“What I’d like to do if I win as mayor is transition this job to full time, because it seems to me that's what it is,” Mahoney said.

Mahoney addressed previous criticism from Roers Jones, who in a push poll in late 2021 exploring a run for mayor, disparaged Mahoney.

The poll portrayed Mahoney as a "reckless spender" and a "career politician" who cost the city thousands of dollars in a court case over whether he could run for reelection.

A North Dakota district court judge ruled in December that Mahoney, who’d served two partial terms as mayor, could run for another four-year term.

The lawyer's bill for the City of Fargo on Mahoney’s term-limit question was $8,541, according to city officials.

Mahoney said Roers Jones would have a learning curve if she were elected.

“This is a big city, $100 million budget. There's a lot of moving parts that are going on,” he said.

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Mahoney also described himself as having a conservative fiscal management style.

As for criticism over his handling of recent staffing and morale issues involving the Fargo Police Department, Mahoney said the city’s human resources department was aware of the concerns and was planning an assessment.

Reporting on the concerns by several media outlets in mid-January, before the assessment could begin, “just made it come faster,” he said.

Mahoney was also asked how the city’s new system of approval voting might affect the outcome of the mayoral race.

The system, passed by voters in June 2020, allows voters to choose all of the candidates they approve of in a given race.

Mahoney said for city commission races, there are typically two seats open each election, so it makes sense there, but it may not be as applicable in the mayor’s race.

“I would probably bet that every candidate says just vote once because that has more power as a vote,” he said.

Mahoney touted his experience and accomplishments while serving as mayor since 2015, as deputy mayor to Mayor Dennis Walaker for six years before that and nine years on the Fargo City Commission.

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He pointed to record growth and development in the city, a strong job market, a stable tax rate, and the “nice balance” of services in the community, from medical to manufacturing to education.

He also pledged a facelift for the Fargodome, a fresh look at performing arts venues and completion of “legacy” projects like the F-M Diversion, designed to protect the metro area from catastrophic flooding.

He was preceded in the news conference by Jane Sinner, wife of the late North Dakota Gov. George “Bud” Sinner, who reflected on Mahoney's time as deputy mayor during the historic flood of 2009 when it was advised the city be evacuated for the safety of its residents.

Mahoney and Walaker defied that advice, believing the city was prepared to fight the record high water and keep city services intact.

“And they were right,” Sinner said.

The election

The mayoral election will be held Tuesday, June 14, 2022.

In addition to that race, two City Commission seats will be up for grabs.

Commissioner Tony Gehrig announced in late January that he would not seek reelection but would keep open the possibility of running for office again in the future.

Commissioner Dave Piepkorn’s term is also up this summer.

On Tuesday, Piepkorn told The Forum he hasn’t decided whether he’ll run again for commission or any other race.

He said he’ll decide by the end of March, ahead of the April 11 filing deadline.

“Lots can change in that amount of time. I’m in no rush,” Piepkorn said.

Three candidates have announced intentions to run for the two City Commission seats thus far.

Branden Krieger, Will Thompson and Ahmed Shiil have filed the necessary paperwork, according to City Auditor Steve Sprague.

On June 14, residents will be able to vote at any available polling place, Sprague said.

Early voting will take place the week prior at those polling places, and on the Monday before Election Day.

Absentee voting will also be available, Sprague said, giving people plenty of opportunities to vote.

Should Preston win the mayoral race, the city would have to hold a special election to fill her city commission term, which expires in 2024, he said.

Previously, a candidate had to give up their seat in order to run for another office, but that’s no longer the case.

Huebner is a 35+ year veteran of broadcast and print journalism in Fargo-Moorhead.
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