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Forum editorial: Mahoney’s support impresses

 Fargo voters spoke with a very loud voice Tuesday when they elected Dr. Tim Mahoney mayor over Brad Wimmer. Acting mayor and former commissioner Mahoney piled up nearly 60 percent of the vote in a contest many observers predicted would be much closer. Former parks and city commissioner and businessman Wimmer, who ran unsuccessfully just months ago against late Mayor Dennis Walaker, ran a vigorous campaign, but it was not nearly enough to overcome Mahoney’s high-profile work for the city, particularly his leadership alongside popular Walaker in recent flood fights.

  In the six-way tilt for a lone city commissioner seat, the third time was the charm for Tony Gehrig, whose campaign was distinguished by his small-government doctrine and his criticism of several of the city’s major initiatives. Gehrig won slightly more than 22 percent of votes cast in the six-way race.

 So what’s going on here? Mahoney’s huge victory suggests voters like his leadership and his policy positions, most of which are out of sync with winning commissioner candidate Gehrig’s campaign stances. But an analysis of votes suggests the apparent contradiction is easily explained. Mahoney won with a significant majority of all votes cast, since only two candidates were in the running for mayor. Gehrig merely had to mobilize a relatively small base of like-minded voters to win with only 22 percent of votes cast. That means, of course, that a large majority, some 78 percent of voters, voted for someone else for commissioner.

 Do the election results mean continuity or a radical shift? Will commissioners find common ground on such vital issues as the Fargo-Moorhead Diversion, a new City Hall, a convention center and infill development? Or is city government in for a period of re-examination that could lead to divisiveness and gridlock? Too early to tell. Fargo city government has worked because even when commissioners disagree, they tend to eventually put the interests of the city ahead of personal agendas. Let’s hope that pattern repeats itself.

  Meanwhile, our congratulations to Mahoney on his win, and to Wimmer for conducting a civil campaign. Also, congratulations to Commissioner-elect Gehrig for his determination to convince enough voters to support him. He ran an excellent campaign against a formidable roster of candidates.

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Forum editorials represent the opinion of Forum management and the newspaper’s Editorial Board.

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