FARGO — Instead of city officials, the new Fargo Liquor Control Board will include four members of the public after several controversies surrounding bar and licensing issues in recent months.

The members approved on a 4-1 vote Monday night by Fargo city commissioners were downtown area resident and retiree Kay Schwarzwalter, former liquor distributor president and general manager Robert Nelson, North Dakota State University faculty member Lydia Tackett and banker and former lawyer John Stibbe.

Also continuing on the board will be City Commissioner Dave Piepkorn, who has been chairman of the board. Removed from the board was Commissioner Tony Gehrig.

Gehrig was the lone vote against the appointments.

The change in the board makeup was approved in April by city commissioners.

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Police Chief David Zibolski, who served on the board, said he didn't feel comfortable making policy decisions, as most other city committees are made up of public volunteers.

Other city commissioners also felt simply having city officials making up the board was not in the industry and city's best interest because the board recommends action to the city commission.

The board was previously composed of City Auditor Steve Sprague, whose office issues liquor licenses; Fargo Cass Public Health Environmental Health Director Grant Larson, whose office does bar and restaurant inspections; Zibolski and the two city commissioners.

City officials will continue advising the board, Piepkorn said.

The controversies raised recently have been the types of liquor licensing and processes for suspending or possibly revoking licenses.

Sprague, Larson, Piepkorn, Assistant City Administrator Michael Redlinger and Mayor Tim Mahoney reviewed the applications and selected five finalists for interviews. Mahoney and Piepkorn said they made the final selections.

"I think we have a good mix of people," Piepkorn said.

Schwartzwalter and Nelson will serve two-year terms, while Tackett and Stibbe were appointed for four-year terms.

Applicants supplied information about why they would like to be on the board.

Schwartzwalter said she wanted to "support successful dining and social activities, of which serving alcohol is an essential part. Issues that have arisen regarding overconsumption, and problems that begin inside establishments and are pushed out into the public realm, should be addressed in a fair but forthright manner."

She also noted she'd like to see liquor licenses become less complex and hopes to contribute to "solutions so that everyone can continue to enjoy downtown."

Nelson said he offered extensive experience in the beverage alcohol industry, recently retiring as president of Johnson Brothers of North Dakota, a wholesale distributor. The 32-year resident of Fargo also said he was the president of the North Dakota Liquor Dealers Association for 12 years.

Tackett said she was interested in serving "because the safety of young people, serving staff, and other Fargo residents is very important to me. We as a community must work to strike a balance between the interests of businesses, residents, and workers — the only way to accomplish that is to listen to all stake-holders, reaching out to those we may not typically hear from."

Stibble, who has lived in Fargo since 1988, said, "I love this gem of a city and believe it is important from an economic and community perspective to support responsible business folks and control practices that (are) detrimental to our community."

The new board will take over immediately. Redlinger said they would meet with the four new members for a legal briefing in the coming days.