ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Some differ, some agree as Moorhead candidates talk downtown, inclusion, workforce

Candidates for the mayor's office and city council seats gathered to share their thoughts and policies with citizens at a forum on Tuesday, Oct. 25, hosted by the Fargo Moorhead West Fargo Chamber of Commerce.

102522.N.FF.MOORHEADCANDIDATE.2
Moorhead mayoral and city council candidate forum on Tuesday, Oct. 25, 2022, hosted by the Fargo Moorhead West Fargo Chamber of Commerce.
Michael Vosburg/The Forum
We are part of The Trust Project.

MOORHEAD — Moorhead candidates for the mayor's office and city council seats gathered to share their thoughts and policies with citizens at a forum on Tuesday, Oct. 25, hosted by the Fargo Moorhead West Fargo Chamber of Commerce.

Seven people are vying for four seats on the council, one seat in each of the city's wards. Incumbent Mayor Shelly Carlson is taking on challenger Kevin "NeSe" Shores.

102522.N.FF.MOORHEADCANDIDATE
Moorhead mayoral and city council candidate forum on Oct. 25, 2022, hosted by the Fargo Moorhead West Fargo Chamber of Commerce.
Melissa Van Der Stad / The Forum

Diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI)

“If there is one thing that I know is the hardship of being, metaphorically, at the bottom of the barrel,” Shores said.

A blind and disabled veteran, Shores said he sees a lot of “blind spots” in the current workings. He said the Moorhead city website is “inaccessible” for him to utilize and that city sidewalks are a “crap shoot” if they will be wheelchair accessible.

ADVERTISEMENT

102522.N.FF.MOORHEADCANDIDATE.1
Kevin Richard Shores, from left, speaks Tuesday, Oct. 25, 2022, at a Moorhead candidate forum with Shelly Carlson, Deb White, Heather Nesemeier and others at the Hjemkomst Center.
Michael Vosburg/The Forum

Siham Amedy, a Ward 1 candidate, said creating a sense of belonging is important. It starts with education, housing and jobs for new community members, Amedy said, noting that growing up here wasn’t easy because she faced discrimination.

Carlson said the city should be looking at systemic changes to address the issue in regards to religion, age, ability and sexual orientation in addition to race and gender.

“The common excuse is that we don’t get a lot of people applying… it's more about looking at our recruiting and advertising and where that is happening," Carlson said.

Most of such work is currently happening in the Human Rights Commission, said incumbent Heather Nesemeier, Ward 2 candidate. She wants to see DEI be more centralized within the city, starting with city council, and work outwards to “all the boards and commissions” and into staff handbooks.

Ryan Nelson, a Ward 1 candidate, said many in the room, including himself, have room to grow in their DEI efforts. Nelson called for continued growth, but didn't feel it needed to be included in the employee handbook. He’d like DEI efforts to “get to a point where it’s just natural.”

Workforce

Running unopposed out of Ward 4, incumbent Chuck Hendrickson said the city has been struggling with workforce for "a long time." Hendrickson floated an idea to provide more amenities, transforming Moorhead into a destination location to attract workforce to move to the city.

Eileen Johnson, Ward 2 candidate, along with Nelson agreed with Hendrickson. Johnson added that providing work incentive programs in the schools would help fill part-time positions and allow students to explore the workforce.

Two people at a desk.
Chuck Hendrickson (right) speaks during a mayoral and city council forum on Tuesday, Oct. 25, 2022 with Eileen Johnson (left) and others.
Melissa Van Der Stad / The Forum

Amedy on Tuesday brought housing to the forefront.

ADVERTISEMENT

“Individuals not being able to afford stable quality housing in Moorhead affects the workforce,” Amedy said.

102522.N.FF.MOORHEADCANDIDATE.3
Deb White (center) speaks Tuesday, Oct. 25, 2022, at a Moorhead candidate forum with Shelly Carlson (left) and Heather Nesemeier (right) at the Hjemkomst Center.
Michael Vosburg/The Forum

Ward 3 incumbent candidate Deb White said Moorhead has a shortage of affordable housing, both low income as well as workforce housing.

“We need to address that housing shortage for the workforce," Nesemeier said, "but also we need to address the child care shortage."

Candidates across the board called for more child care facilities to help address a growing local, and national, shortage of child care workers.

Johnson suggested the city provide incentives to child care business owners to help pay their employees and increase retention.

Shores said he'd like to see a city-assisted nonprofit child care center that utilizes parent volunteer hours, and also assist with the financial needs of parents who may choose to stay home with their children.

Economic development

Not all candidates at Tuesday's forum were in agreement when the topic of the downtown redevelopment project, which will replace the Moorhead Center Mall, came up.

Shores, a Native American , pointed out that the mayor and city council start each council meeting with a land acknowledgment, but he wants more to be done.

ADVERTISEMENT

“I ask those owners of Moorhead city mall, can we have our sacred land back?” Shores said it could be used to make a more “holistic” community area.

White sees a few challenges with the redevelopment project, too, namely the ongoing economic slowdown and the current price of building materials. She feels, however, the project should move forward.

While Nesemeier has also heard concerns from residents about inflation and costs, in addition to parking, she expressed excitement about what the space could provide for the community.

Person at desk.
Siham Amedy speaks during the Moorhead mayoral and city council forum on Tuesday, Oct. 25, 2022.
Melissa Van Der Stad / The Forum

Amedy said additional amenities would help keep and drive young people to start new businesses, while Johnson hopes the development brings big-name corporations to help attract interest from across the river.

“I think it will be a great asset to the community to have something new, bright and full of attractions,” Johnson said.

Nelson wants to look beyond to additional Moorhead areas. Hendrickson agreed that development outside of downtown was important.

“The downtown plan for the Moorhead center mall area does have… challenges but there are a lot more opportunities,” Carlson said. The proposed local options sales tax , also on the Nov. 8 ballot, will help spearhead the economic development by encouraging businesses to invest in the downtown area alongside the city, Carlson said.

All candidates besides Shores were in favor of the local option sales tax measure to help fund the project.

“My fear is expenditure,” Shores said

Top priorities

Most candidates listed public safety as a top priority, with many stating that providing incentives to retain and recruit public safety workers was essential.

Nesemeier said her priorities are smart growth and purposeful development through initiatives that would build new homes as well as support current and new businesses.

Hendrickson is prioritizing economic development as well as public safety.

Johnson would like Moorhead to have more big-name businesses that neighboring cities don’t have, specifically mentioning a water park as an option to attract people to the city.

Absent Tuesday was Dr. Rick Melbye, who provided a statement to be read at the event.

To learn more about candidates who will be on the ballot in November, visit inforum.com/topics/election-2022.

I cover the politics beat – come see me at a local government meeting sometime. I'm also the night reporter on weeknights. 👻
What To Read Next
A 50-year-old Red Wing woman has pleaded guilty to second-degree murder related to leaving her new born infant boy in the Lake Pepin as part of a plea deal.
The CROWN Act adds natural hairstyles and textures to the definition of race in the Minnesota Human Rights Act. Also: A bill to make Juneteenth a state holiday now awaits a vote in the House.
The Minnesota Legislature failed to pass a significant public infrastructure borrowing bill during the last session, leaving many local projects on hold.
The magnitude of spring flooding likely will hinge on how much late-winter snowfall the region gets as well as the timing of the spring thaw.