The Fargo City Commission does a good job of running the city. However, when it comes to election reform...
- It has its head in the sand. Or at least three of the five members do. It's pretty lame that the commission failed to advance any ideas for election reform or changing the size of its intimate commission. Kudos to city commissioners Tony Grindberg and John Strand for trying. No matter what good ideas Grindberg and Strand proposed, city commissioners Tony Gehrig, Dave Piepkorn and Mayor Tim Mahoney voted "no."
Grindberg's smart plan for a city primary/general election system just like the one we use to elect our statewide candidates, members of the legislature and county commissioners made so much sense that of course it was rejected. It's also too bad that the commission said no to the idea of adding two seats for a total of seven commissioners.
"I'm very disappointed that the city commission did nothing," said Jed Limke, a member of the Fargo Election and Governance Task Force.
So am I. Our election and governance system matters. It's stunning that the majority of the commission is okay with a system where someone can be elected with just 20 percent of the vote. It's astonishing that they think five commissioners are enough to represent this rapidly growing city of more than 120,000 people. The size of the commission has remained unchanged since the population was less than half that. We need more representation.
Commissioner Dave Piepkorn said he has heard little interest on this subject. Well, this issue will never get people fired up like the hot-button issues of property taxes, flood protection, road construction and "not in my backyard" building projects.
"The commissioners did receive lots of feedback. They just weren't listening," said Limke.
He's right. The commissioners appointed the task force to study these issues. It was headed by respected former Fargo Mayor Bruce Furness. The task force worked hard for several months. It recommended changing our elections to an innovative system called "approval voting," and adding two commission seats. However, the three wise men ignored the recommendations from their own task force. In addition, at a recent public forum called by the commission, all but one of the attendees voiced support for the changes. So what was the point of the forum and the task force?
Mind you, all the city commissioners were asked to do was put the issues on the ballot for Fargo residents to vote on, but they wouldn't even do that. Now, Limke is contemplating a signature drive to get it on the ballot. However, that's a tall order because it takes 2,000 signatures. I hope Limke goes for it and succeeds. Fargo citizens deserve the chance to weigh in on our messed up system.
- I can't wait to file my taxes by just using a postcard.
Shaw is a former WDAY TV reporter and former KVRR TV new director. He can be heard Fridays, 8 a.m. to 9 a.m., on WDAY AM radio. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.