McFeely: Fargo City Commission race going further back to the future
The Fargo City Commission race is going back to the future even more than it already has.Former two-term commissioner Arlette Preston was gathering signatures at the North Dakota Democratic-NPL convention, apparently in an attempt to submit a pet...
The Fargo City Commission race is going back to the future even more than it already has.
Former two-term commissioner Arlette Preston was gathering signatures at the North Dakota Democratic-NPL convention, apparently in an attempt to submit a petition to get on the June ballot. Fargo allows commission candidates two ways of getting on the ballot: Pay a $100 filing fee or gathering 300 signatures of qualified voters.
Preston could not be reached for comment.
Preston's interest in the commission potentially brings another familiar and experienced local political name into the race. Preston served on the commission for two terms, from 1992-2000. She was elected to the Fargo School Board in 2002 and served until 2006. Preston ran for mayor in 2006, receiving 24 percent of the vote in a four-way race won by Dennis Walaker.
Already committed to the race are former three-term city commissioner Mike Williams and longtime former state senator Tim Flakoll. Former city commissioner and current school board member Linda Boyd is expected to announce her candidacy soon.
Two seats are being contested, seats currently held by Tony Gehrig and Dave Piepkorn. Gehrig is running for reelection. Piepkorn said he will announce his plans at the end of the month, but is expected to run.
Activist Lenny Tweeden has also filed to run.
City commission races often draw newcomers or activists, but this year seems to be attracting experienced politicians.
Preston was a champion of strengthening neighborhoods during her previous tenure on the commission. She helped write a new Land Development Code and advocated for dedicating resources to building neighborhoods.
It is interesting to see how the issues facing Fargo a dozen years ago mirror the issues facing the city today. It's almost like not that much changes in this community, even though we like to think it does.
While making her announcement for mayor, Preston said major issues the city needed to confront were building a welcoming community to attract and retain young workers.
"Fargo has a vibrant, growing business community, but building a workforce is certainly central to that," Preston said in a story printed in the Jan. 10, 2006, edition of The Forum.
Preston also sounded the alarm about rising property taxes, adding that she'd been "fighting that battle" for fiscal responsibility on the school board.
Preston is a local business owner, starting Home Instead Senior Care in 2003. It employs more than 100 people and provides in-home, non-medical services for the elderly.
The more qualified candidates who get into the city commission race, the more interesting it becomes. Gehrig and Piepkorn have the power of incumbency, and Gehrig has been consistent about building a brand by saying "no" to most projects that would cost taxpayers money.
Williams was an active and focused commissioner before being term-limited out in 2016. Flakoll has great name recognition, is well-connected and will be a well-organized campaigner. Boyd is well-known and popular among progressive, business, arts and education groups.
It is a deep field. Fargo will be the winner, no matter who wins.