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Shaw: Take advantage of Fargo's approval voting

Shaw writes, "Fargo residents can now vote for as many candidates as they like, although only two will be elected. So, I encourage Fargo voters to vote for many of those running to get the strong candidates elected and to defeat the anti-science candidates. There are five highly qualified candidates running for city commission, and I will vote for all five."

Jim Shaw
Jim Shaw
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The most important thing our elected leaders need to do is keep us safe. For that reason, Fargo City Commission candidates Dave Piepkorn and Jennifer Benson are unfit for the office. Piepkorn is an incumbent, while Benson serves on the school board. Their records in dealing with COVID-19 are abysmal.

Basically, their approach was to do nothing. Never mind that COVID is a highly contagious deadly virus. Never mind that one million Americans have died from COVID, including about 500 in Fargo-Moorhead. Never mind that it spread rapidly in the Fargo area and hospitals were overwhelmed. In the height of the pandemic, before vaccines were prevalent for most everyone, they both shamefully ignored recommendations from Fargo Cass Public Health and voted against mask requirements for the city or the Fargo School District.

A Mayo Clinic study found that “Masks are critically important. They’re very effective at protecting the people around you.”

Even worse, Piepkorn and Benson disobeyed city and school district rules . With mask requirements in place, Piepkorn refused to wear one at city commission meetings and Benson refused to wear one at school board meetings. We all have to obey rules and laws that we don’t like. That’s especially true for policies dealing with a highly transmissible disease. It’s inexcusable for elected leaders to disobey their own rules.

Piepkorn’s record in issues dealing with people of color is appalling. His hostility towards refugees hoping to flee for their lives and come to Fargo is disturbing. Also disturbing were his votes against hiring a diversity director in Fargo and against a Fargo hate crimes law . Apparently, Piepkorn believes nobody is ever attacked because of their sexual orientation, religion or skin color. Perhaps Piepkorn should talk to the families of the murdered victims of the Buffalo massacre.

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Piepkorn and fellow anti-science city commissioner Tony Gehrig won previous elections with a low percentage of the vote. More qualified candidates split their votes, allowing Piepkorn and Gehrig to win.

With approval voting now, that can be prevented. Fargo residents can now vote for as many candidates as they like, although only two will be elected. So, I encourage Fargo voters to vote for many of those running to get the strong candidates elected and to defeat the anti-science candidates. There are five highly qualified candidates running for city commission, and I will vote for all five. If you want what’s best for the city, this is the best approach. I’m sorry, but I don’t endorse candidates.

Likewise, take advantage of approval voting in the mayor’s race. If there’s one candidate you are definitely against, but you like three of the others, then vote for three people running for mayor.

Congrats to Valley News Live Sports Director Beth Hoole for landing a similar job in South Carolina. I brought Beth to Fargo from Illinois when I was news director at KVRR-TV. Her enormous enthusiasm during her job interview convinced me to hire her. That enthusiasm along with her blossoming talent were on full display at KVRR and VNL. She will do great in her new job.

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.

READ MORE FROM INFORUM COLUMNIST JIM SHAW
Good or bad, Shaw shares feedback he's recently received from readers.

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