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Record-setting 15 candidates vie for Fargo City Commission, 7 for mayor

A total of 22 people have filed to run for either Fargo City Commission or Fargo mayor.

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Tom Magin files to run for Fargo City Commission at City Hall on Monday, April 11, 2022.
David Samson/The Forum
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FARGO — Fargo residents will choose from a record slate of candidates for mayor and City Commission in the June 14 election.

Seven candidates have filed to run for the office of mayor and 15 candidates for a seat on the City Commission, according to City Auditor Steve Sprague.

The deadline to file passed at 4 p.m. on Monday, April 11.

Previously, the record number of mayoral candidates was six in the June 2006 election, according to data kept by the auditor’s office that goes back to 1950.

For City Commission, the highest number before this year was 12 candidates in April 1984, and 11 candidates, who were on the ballot for City Commission in June 2016.

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Here are the mayoral candidates in alphabetical order:

  • Michael Borgie.
  • Hukun Dabar, founder of the nonprofit Afro American Development Association.
  • Dustin Elliot, who works in the loan department of a Fargo bank.
  • Sheri Fercho, vice president of the Fargo-Moorhead Heritage Society.
  • Tim Mahoney, incumbent Fargo mayor and physician.
  • Arlette Preston, a Fargo city commissioner.
  • Shannon Roers Jones, a North Dakota lawmaker, attorney and real estate agent.

In November, a Cass County District Court judge's ruling on a term-limit dispute cleared the way for Mahoney to be on the June ballot.
Judge Stephannie Stiel ruled that two partial terms Mahoney served, including a stretch after the death of former Mayor Dennis Walaker, could not be considered when determining his eligibility to run.

“Excluding these partial terms, Mahoney would be serving his third successive four-year term and would be eligible to serve another term and be placed on the ballot as a mayoral candidate in the city's June 2022 election," the judge wrote.

In the Fargo City Commission race, two seats will be up for grabs.

The terms of commissioners Tony Gehrig and Dave Piepkorn expire in June. Gehrig announced he would not seek reelection, and Piepkorn said in late March he is running again.

Here are the City Commission candidates in alphabetical order:

  • Matuor Alier, Fargo Human Rights Commission chairman and director of equity and inclusion for Moorhead Area Public Schools.
  • Jennifer Benson, an area business specialist for Janssen Pharmaceuticals and a Fargo School Board member whose term expires this year.
  • Al Carlson, former North Dakota House majority leader who served in District 41 from 1993-2018.
  • Philip Deery.
  • Anna Johnson, program coordinator for the Indigenous Association, a truck driver for Aggregate Industries and a working artist.
  • Victoria Johnson, founder of the nonprofit Families United for Self-Empowerment.
  • Denise Kolpack, a retiree of Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota who served as vice president of brand and marketing communications.
  • Branden Krieger, a Fargo teacher.
  • T.G. Tom Magin, a retired investigator for the U.S. Department of Labor and a former deputy sheriff.
  • Ves Marinov, a North Dakota Highway Patrol trooper.
  • Dave Piepkorn, an incumbent Fargo city commissioner and deputy mayor.
  • Jodi Plecity, an entrepreneur and businesswoman.
  • Ahmed Shiil, a member of Fargo's Human Rights Commission and employed with a local nonprofit.
  • Will Thompson, who works at Boulger Funeral Home and Midwest Communications.
  • Lenny Tweeden, a former candidate for mayor and City Commission.
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Lenny Tweeden talks about filing to run for Fargo City Commission at City Hall on Monday, April 11, 2022.
David Samson/The Forum

Magin and Tweeden were latecomers to the City Commission race, filing their paperwork on Monday afternoon shortly before the deadline.

Magin told The Forum he’s a long-shot candidate, “as are all the candidates,” due to Fargo’s approval voting system, he said.

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His No. 1 goal, if elected, would be to push for a ward system or other form of representation “to get Fargo on track with the times,” he said.

Under approval voting, passed in Fargo in 2018, residents may vote for as many candidates for mayor or each open commission seat as they wish.

The candidate or candidates with the most votes wins.

Tweeden said this is his fourth time running for city office.

His main issues are more affordable housing for the southwest part of the city, helping low-income senior citizens stay in their homes by reducing property taxes and building a hotel with a parking ramp just south of Fargo’s Hector International Airport, he said.

Also on the June ballot will be a question about whether term limits should continue for Fargo's mayor and city commissioners .

Commissioners and the mayor are currently limited to three successive four-year terms or 12 years, while a mayor may get another term of four years if they served as a city commissioner for three consecutive terms.

City leaders sought to have voters clarify the term-limit ordinance, in part, due to the 2021 court case involving Mahoney.

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Forum reporter Barry Amundson contributed to this report.

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