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Kelly Smith, Published June 10 2009

Polls see ‘just a trickle’ of voters

West Fargo election inspector Ann Brakken summed up the mood at the polls Tuesday by pointing to the gift she was crocheting.

“Boring,” the 67-year-old Horace resident said. “It’s slow, considering.”

Considering the historic $65 million school buildings referendum residents there and across the West Fargo district were voting on, polls remained steadily slow throughout Tuesday.

“It’s been just a trickle,” inspector Lisa Staska said at Shiloh Evangelical Free Church in Horace. “We thought it’d be really busy on the noon hour, but it wasn’t.”

It was the turnout that supporters later said may have contributed to the referendum’s failure.

Vote Yes committee member Todd Fuchs said the turnout of 4,538 voters Tuesday was disappointing considering the population of the city.

“We have to open school this fall and get new numbers,” he said about convincing people of the district’s need for new buildings.

“I don’t know what people think we’re supposed to do,” added Darcy Diemert, also a member of the committee that promoted the referendum.

They called the results a shock.

In fact, throughout Tuesday, most of the people who cast ballots were confident the referendum would pass – even those who opposed it.

“I’m sure it will probably pass,” said John Colvin, who lives in the Osgood development in Fargo and voted “no” on the ballot along with his wife because of property tax concerns.

“We’re not against school growth, but it needs to be somewhat controlled,” said Colvin, whose kids go to Fargo Oak Grove Lutheran School. “It’s ridiculous to build a school that’s too small two years later.”

Other parents such as Jennifer Kraiter of Harwood agreed the referendum plans weren’t perfect, and “it’s frustrating, but they have to do something,” she said. “As the community grows, we need to grow with it.”

Horace resident Jessica Heilman said Tuesday she’d even consider sending her two young children to Northern Cass School District if the referendum didn’t pass.

“I thought it was too big when I was there,” said the West Fargo High School graduate. “I won’t send them to West Fargo if they don’t pare it down.”

Readers can reach Forum reporter Kelly Smith at (701) 241-5515