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Forum Editorial: Our endorsements for Moorhead mayor and City Council seats

Moorhead Mayor Shelly Carlson and two incumbent City Council members have earned our endorsements, while a third incumbent is running unopposed. These are our picks.

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Shelly Carlson seems to be perfect in her role as mayor of Moorhead, an office she has held since last year when she was appointed to fill a vacancy left by the departure of Johnathan Judd, who was named a district judge.

She has served the city well and has earned our endorsement to stay on the job. Before becoming mayor, she served on the Moorhead City Council, so she is well-versed in the issues.

Carlson has been a vocal advocate of the half-cent sales tax for a new library and community center that, if approved, would become key elements in the city’s ambitious plans for redeveloping the outdated Moorhead Center Mall.

West Fargo voters should approve a half-cent sales tax increase for public safety needs, including a new fire headquarters, and Moorhead voters should accept a proposed half-cent sales tax for a new library and community center. Both are needed.

That redevelopment project, in partnership with Roers Development, JLG Architects and Stantec, will transform the downtown Moorhead Center Mall area over the next five years, and will be the most significant urban renewal project in Moorhead in decades.

It will be important for Carlson to stay on to oversee that project and other initiatives as Moorhead continues its efforts to attract and keep businesses, among other priorities.

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Stylistically, Carlson is inclusive and conciliatory; she’s a uniter, not a divider. She’s capable, with good judgment. Energetic and well-spoken, she’s been an advocate for the arts.

Moorhead’s four City Council wards have three contested races. We’re impressed by the caliber of the candidates. Here are our picks:

Ward 1

Siham Amedy and Ryan Nelson are vying for an open seat that was held by Shelly Dahlquist, who isn’t seeking another term.

Nelson, who has lived in Moorhead for 30 years, is director of public safety at Minnesota State University Moorhead and has been a law enforcement officer for 20 years. Unsurprisingly, he’s an advocate for law enforcement and public safety and also said he would promote public necessities, such as roads, infrastructure and community needs, all sound priorities.

In a close call, our nod goes to Amedy, whose top priority is affordable housing. Amedy has lived in Moorhead 25 years and works as an inclusive recruitment and engagement specialist at North Dakota State University. She’s also a site manager at two properties in Moorhead.

Amedy’s strength is her active involvement in the community, serving as vice chairwoman of the Moorhead Human Rights Commission and MoorHeart Committee. She also serves on the board of the New American Consortium and is herself a former New American.

Ward 2

Incumbent Heather Nesemeier is challenged by Eileen Johnson. Our choice is Neisemeier, who was appointed to the council and we believe should stay in the position. She serves as vice president of AFSCME Local 602, a union that represents government workers.

As with Amedy, Nesemeier is very active in the community. She helped found the Cass-Clay chapter of the Awesome Foundation, which awards $1,000 grants for community projects. She also worked as an organizer of school lunch fundraisers to pay off Moorhead school lunch debts and assists at the community garden at Ellen Hopkins Nature Play Park.

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Neisemeier’s top priorities include smart growth and development, including affordable housing and business recruitment. Her priorities also include maintaining and improving infrastructure and creating more opportunities for outdoor recreation, including recreation trails.

Johnson is a member of the Moorhead Business Association and an owner, with her husband, for 32 years of Johnson Auto Repair in Moorhead. She’s obviously invested in the community.

Ward 3

The clear choice is to keep incumbent Deb White in office. She’s served on the City Council since 2018 and also has served on numerous committees and boards, giving her valuable insights and experience, including the Moorhead Economic Development Authority, West Central Initiative Economic District board, Moorhead Human Rights Commission, Moorhead Planning Commission, Red River Recovery Initiative and Moorhead Public Service Commission.

White also has the right priorities, including affordable housing and downtown revitalization.

Ward 4

Incumbent Chuck Hendrickson is running unopposed.

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