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Fargo School Board member registers to run for City Commission

Jennifer Benson works as an area business specialist for Janssen Pharmaceuticals, a company owned by COVID-19 vaccine maker Johnson & Johnson.

Jennifer Benson, Fargo School Board member.jpeg
Jennifer Benson.
Submitted photo
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FARGO — A Fargo School Board member who has been censured twice for noncompliance has registered to run for a heavily contested City Commission seat on the June ballot.

Fargo City Auditor Steve Sprague said Jennifer Benson, still a board member until the June 14 election, filed to run for one of two open Fargo City Commission seats on Friday, April 8.

Benson joins a total of 13 people running for two open City Commission seats, said Gregg Schildberger, director of communications for the city. There are also six candidates running for the mayoral seat currently held by Mayor Tim Mahoney. The deadline to file is Monday, April 11.

Benson began serving as a board member in 2014, according to the district's website, and was the liaison to Clara Barton/Hawthorne and Centennial areas. During her time as a board member, Benson served on the Communications, Engagement & Advocacy, Community Development and Planning committees, according to the district's website.

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“Disagreement is a blessing, not a blockage. We are seeking to silence people, and I think that is a dangerous precedent," said board member Jennifer Benson, who dissented.
Policy changes under consideration include reducing an offending school board member’s compensation, holding a public meeting between an offending member and the full board, and removing an offending member from leadership assignments or committee positions.
Level 4 complaints, brought before the Fargo School Board, are exceptionally rare. This is the first case to reach this level in at least 10 years, said district spokeswoman AnnMarie Campbell.
“I don’t see it as a violation in any way, shape or form. It’s more about let’s personally attack the person willing to speak the truth even in the face of adversity,” Benson told The Forum.
The motion for students to wear masks in indoor school settings regardless of vaccination status passed on a vote of 6 to 3.
Jennifer Benson was disciplined by the board last year for comments she made about the district superintendent and associate superintendent.

She works as an area business specialist for Janssen Pharmaceuticals, a company owned by COVID-19 vaccine maker Johnson & Johnson.

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Benson has been critical of the school board's stances on many issues, especially mask mandates during the coronavirus pandemic. The district also voted in stricter policies for noncompliance, which began after she lobbied state lawmakers and expressed views not supported by the board.

C.S. Hagen is an award-winning journalist currently covering the education and activist beats mainly in North Dakota and Minnesota.
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