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Unlike Fargo, West Fargo city, school and park board races may go to the ballots mostly uncontested

Elections for the West Fargo Mayor, judge, city commission, park board and school board will all be on June 14 ballot

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WEST FARGO — With less than a week to go before the filing deadline for seats on the West Fargo City Commission, Park Board and School Board, it appears the majority of city races will go uncontested.

West Fargo Finance Director Jim Larson said as of Monday, April 4, only City Commissioner Brad Olson and newcomer Roben Anderson had filed to place their names on the June 14 ballot. Mayor Bernie Dardis has submitted a letter of intent to file, but he has not yet filed the required 300 signatures candidates must submit to be considered a candidate.

Larson said he has not yet received a single filing for any one of the three open West Fargo Park Board seats. However, Park District Finance Director Justin Germundson said the three incumbents, Jeff McCracken, Chris Heise and Jake Lauritsen, have announced they will seek reelection and are circulating petitions.

In the school board race, three of the four incumbents, Jessica Jackson, Jon Erickson and Mark Staples, have filed with West Fargo Schools Business Manager Levi Bachmeier. The fourth incumbent and current Board President Jim Jonas has announced he intends to run but has not officially filed.

Jonas hopes to serve the school district and the state simultaneously. He will be seeking a Republican endorsement as a representative of District 13 in the state House of Representatives.

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One newcomer, Scott Kasprick, filed to run for the School Board on Monday, April 4

Prospective school board candidates must file with Bachmeier by 4 p.m. on Monday, April 11. Candidates for city and park board seats must gather a petition of 300 signatures from West Fargo voters and file it at City Hall by April 11.

Dardis said this week he prefers to go above and beyond the required 300 signatures and he plans to file the petition on Monday.

Eric Gjerdevig. Special to The Forum
Eric Gjerdevig. Special to The Forum

Along with the mayoral seat, two city commission seats will be on the ballot. Olson and Commissioner Eric Gjerdevig's seats are up for election on the June 14 ballot, but Gjerdevig decided not to seek reelection.

"I am not running for reelection," Gjerdevig said. "I'm not sure there is a single reason, but I just have some other priorities I'm looking to put my time into over the next two years, so I'm putting the pause button on it for now. "

Like Gjerdevig, Olson was first elected to the West Fargo City Commission in 2018, but he feels like his work is not yet finished in West Fargo and chose to seek reelection.

Bernie Dardis speaks after being honored as the 2017 Legacy Leader during the Fargo Moorhead West Fargo Chamber’s seventh annual meeting at the Fargo Holiday Inn on Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2017.David Samson / The Forum
Bernie Dardis speaks after being honored as the 2017 Legacy Leader during the Fargo Moorhead West Fargo Chamber’s seventh annual meeting at the Fargo Holiday Inn on Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2017.David Samson / The Forum

The retired USDA employee served on the city commission in Bowbells, North Dakota, before moving to West Fargo in 2006. He continues to volunteer as a teacher of hunter's education in cooperation with the North Dakota Game and Fish Department.

"I've been in basically public service, my whole adult life," Olson said. "I worked for the federal government since I was 22. I've always served the public, even though they were farmers and ranchers. This position is similar in nature, serving and giving back what I can."

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Olson said he wants to continue on the commission while the city moves through its decommissioning of the wastewater lagoon project and redevelops northern Sheyenne Street. He also hopes to continue to help grow West Fargo's retail and commercial base, which will lessen the burden on residential property taxes and special assessments.

Although Anderson would be a new face on the city commission, he currently serves on the West Fargo Special Assessment Commission.

Anderson is a finance analyst at Doosan Bobcat, a position he said got him interested in serving on the city commission as he has the "skills and passion for finding the 'why' behind the numbers and how they affect daily processes." Anderson grew up in Portland, Oregon, is a University of North Dakota graduate and and is married to a West Fargo native.

West Fargo municipal judge Michelle Dornoski has chosen not to seek reelection. While he has not yet filed, attorney Trent Barkus announced in March he would seek election to the city's sole judgeship.

To file for city or park board seats, one must file a Petition/Certificate of Nomination , as well as the Statement of Interests form , with the city before 4 p.m. Monday, April 11.

To file for for a West Fargo School Board seat, potential candidates who live in the school district can file two forms, one certifying they are eligible for election and live within the district and a statement of interest. Forms must be filed by 4 p.m. Monday, April 11, with Bachmeier's office.

As the West Fargo editor, Wendy Reuer covers all things West Fargo for The Forum and oversees the production of the weekly Pioneer.
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