Shaw: A very good day for Fargo

Shaw shares thoughts on the results of Tuesday's election.

Jim Shaw
Jim Shaw
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As a whole, election day was a very good day for Fargo. Fargo Mayor Tim Mahoney was re-elected. Mahoney has done a very good job as mayor, the city is doing very well, and he is very likable. The key to defeating the incumbent Mahoney was for his opponents to emphasize reasons why he should be removed from office, and they failed to do that.

Shannon Roers Jones was doomed to defeat because of her connection to Roers Development, and that company’s highly publicized failure to build promised townhomes in the Roosevelt neighborhood. It also didn’t help that she wouldn’t promise to leave the state legislature if she was elected.

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Denise Kolpack will make an excellent city commissioner. She’s bright, poised and does her homework. Dave Piepkorn’s attacks against Jim Roers and Roers Development certainly helped his re-election. Also, the ugly and vicious flyers mailed out against Piepkorn actually worked in his favor. They increased his name recognition and turned him into a bullied victim.

Approval voting was not a big factor in the outcomes, but Fargo voters did use it. The average Fargo voter voted for 1.5 candidates for mayor and 3 candidates for the city commission. Also, the publicized percentages of the vote that candidates received are incorrect because they aren’t tabulated based on the number of voters. So, instead of Mahoney receiving 40.7% of the vote, he really received 64%. Likewise, Kolpack didn’t get 13.8%. Her true figure is 42%.

Fargo voters elected five terrific candidates to the school board. Fortunately, the five “chaos candidates” were all defeated. Once again, the publicized percentages are incorrect. Top vote-getter Melissa Burkland did not receive 10.4% of the vote, but did get 42%. Interesting that four out of five incumbents were defeated, including Jennifer Benson who ran for the city commission. Defeated School Board President Rebecca Knutson did a nice job.


The most uplifting story is that of new school board member Nyamal Dei, who becomes the first person of color and first former refugee to be elected to the board.

Once again we saw how idiotic the 60% rule is for school bond elections. In Mapleton, 59.22% of the voters voted for a badly needed expansion of the elementary school, while 40.77% voted against it, yet the 40.77% side won. How is that fair?

I am so sorry to hear of the passing of former North Dakota Supreme Court Justice Beryl Levine. She was smart, friendly, and inspiring. At age 36, while raising five children in Fargo, Levine enrolled at the University of North Dakota Law School. She drove back and forth from Fargo to Grand Forks every day, and finished first in her law school class.

Jim Shaw interviews North Dakota Supreme Court Justice Beryl Levine.
Contributed / Jim Shaw

I had the honor of interviewing her live in 1985 (when my hair grew faster) for WDAY-TV on the day Gov. Sinner named her as the first woman on the North Dakota Supreme Court. She said, “It is very very exciting for women throughout our state, and the response I’m hearing is that they are very proud and happy, like I am.”

Shaw is a former WDAY TV reporter and former KVRR TV news director.

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Forum's editorial board nor Forum ownership.

Shaw writes, "Women in North Dakota are probably feeling safe because the Red River Women’s Clinic in Fargo, the only abortion clinic in the state, will move to neighboring Moorhead. That’s because abortion will remain legal in next door Minnesota. Sorry to say, things can change."

Opinion by Jim Shaw
InForum columnist Jim Shaw is a former WDAY TV reporter and former KVRR TV news director.
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