Bernie Dardis has been called Mr. West Fargo. Soon he will be called West Fargo’s Mr. Mayor. In a changing of the guard at City Hall, Dardis will replace Rich Mattern, who has headed West Fargo city government for 16 years following four years on the commission. We commend Mattern for his dedicated leadership over a period that has seen unprecedented growth in West Fargo, and we welcome Dardis to the helm. As with any dynamic organization, it’s beneficial to periodically bring in new leaders with fresh ideas to guide the operation. That’s apparently what West Fargo voters decided.
Dardis, of course, is well known in business and civic circles in West Fargo and, for that matter, throughout the metro area. He was the longtime chief executive officer of Indigo Signworks and has been active for years in the Chamber of Commerce and a host of civic and community groups. He’s been actively engaged in trying to make a better community throughout his more than four decades in West Fargo. Now, at age 65, he’s embracing a new challenge.
West Fargo’s passing of the baton from Mattern to Dardis reminds us in some ways of Fargo’s mayoral transition from Jon Lindgren to Bruce Furness. Furness, like Dardis, had a long track record in business before he became mayor, and replaced a longtime incumbent. Among other things, Furness worked to improve Fargo’s infrastructure, including its streets. During the campaign, Dardis stressed his collaborative approach and noted his support for the metro flood diversion project, reminding voters that he had served on the governors’ task force that helped to craft a compromise plan aimed at winning the approval of Minnesota, which must grant a permit for the stalled project to go ahead.
Dardis understands that one of his chief tasks will be working to expand West Fargo’s commercial property tax base. West Fargo’s impressive growth over the past two decades has largely involved residential property. While residential growth is welcome, Dardis knows full well that to flourish, a city must have healthy business growth to provide the services demanded by a growing population. Dardis also understands the importance of working cooperatively with Fargo; that’s always been true but is even more imperative now that Fargo is helping West Fargo to provide expanded water and wastewater services more cost effectively than West Fargo could do on its own.
Given his business background and entrepreneurial mindset, Dardis has the right skill set to help West Fargo prosper and advance. He’s the ideal leader for the times in West Fargo, with its mix of challenges and opportunities. We congratulate him on his election and wish him well. We hope that his will be an administration that is open and inclusive in serving the citizens of West Fargo.
Editorials represent the views of Forum management and the Editorial Board.