Lessons learned, Strand announces another bid for City Commission seat
FARGO - School Board member John Strand announced Tuesday that he's making a second bid for the City Commission, saying he's learned a couple of lessons from his failed run this spring.
FARGO – School Board member John Strand announced Tuesday that he’s making a second bid for the City Commission, saying he’s learned a couple of lessons from his failed run this spring.
Strand, who co-owns the High Plains Reader, said that if elected, he would relinquish his seat on the Fargo School Board and allow a replacement to be appointed.
That’s a change from the last time he ran for City Commission. During that campaign, he vowed to finish his term on the School Board, which expires in 2016. “I thought that was the noble, honorable thing to do,” he said.
But the perception by some residents that he was making a power grab for two public offices has led him now to promise to resign from the School Board, he said.
That was one lesson.
Another came from the controversy created when he projected a campaign message onto a city water tower in May. Cass County’s top prosecutor ruled the tactic was illegal, but no charges were filed against Strand.
“I wouldn’t do that again, and I immediately stopped doing it,” Strand said. “I wish that hadn’t become the election issue.”
The City Commission seat that Strand is seeking has opened up because interim Mayor Tim Mahoney is running for mayor, and to do so, he must resign from the commission. Former Commissioner Brad Wimmer has also said he’s running for mayor to replace Dennis Walaker, who died this month after a battle with kidney cancer.
Aside from Strand, no one else has yet publicized plans to run for City Commission. A special election is set for April 28, so residents can vote for a new mayor and commissioner.
Strand, who was elected to the School Board in 2008 and again in 2012, ran for City Commission in June, along with six other candidates. He placed third with 12 percent of the vote, losing to Mahoney (29 percent) and Dave Piepkorn (21 percent), who both won commission seats.
Strand said that as a commissioner, his top priority would be to spruce up neighborhoods in and around downtown, while tightly managing the city’s sprawl.
Strand, who describes himself as a “fiscal-tightwad-social-liberal,” said he wants to create a New American Commission that would address the needs of Fargo’s recent immigrants. He also plans to focus on rail safety and the shipping of oil through the city.
He said flood protection is a high priority. But he has concerns about the $1.8 billion plan to divert floodwater around the metro area, specifically the southern portion of the project, which would include a dam.