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Published May 21 2010

City Commission candidates stress growth

West Fargo needs to continue keeping up with its monumental growth, city commission candidates said Thursday night in a forum sponsored by the League of Women Voters.

The candidates said that will mean providing top-quality service to residents through the construction of a water treatment plant, updating infrastructure and planning for future development.

Voters will choose June 8 among incumbent Lou Bennett and residents Duane Breitling, Duane Hanson and Richard Lewis to fill two open seats on the commission.

The four candidates cited their longtime ties to the community and their desire to serve West Fargo’s best interests – especially on key regional issues such as the proposed North Dakota diversion to the Red River Valley.

Lewis said he doesn't favor a countywide sales tax to fund the diversion because West Fargo needs its own sales tax to fund a future water treatment plant.

“We need to continue the growth in a good orderly fashion. It’s not going to stop,” Lewis said. “The water treatment plant is vital to the city.”

Candidates also fielded questions on a proposed senior center, supporting environment-friendly initiatives and attracting more businesses.

“We’ve all came a long ways in a very short period of time,” Hanson said. “Let’s remember what city government does – and that’s to provide services to this community.”

Bennett, who’s seeking a third term to the commission, said he wants to continue the work he’s done in serving the city.

“We have to stay equal with our support – fire, police, garbage pickup. We have to stay ahead of that curve,” Bennett said. “We’ve just managed to just keep up with our growth. … It’s all about keeping the city viable.”

Breitling agreed that a focus needs to be put on infrastructure to keep pace with growth, such as upgrading the Sheyenne Street thoroughfare south of Interstate 94.

“We need to make sure we can provide those (services) for any future development that the city is going to undertake,” he said.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Kristen Daum at (701) 241-5541