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Published June 04 2010

Forum editorial: WF, Fargo parks in good hands

Fargo and West Fargo have two of the best public park systems in the region. Their park boards have managed the districts well, taking into account the variety of sports and recreation needs and wants of constituents, while at the same time addressing growth.

The quality of the parks adds immensely to the quality of life in both cities. Here are our selections for Tuesday’s park district ballots:


Fargo parks are blessed to have park board members who are as diverse in their interests and abilities as are the parks in the sprawling system. Incumbents Mary Johnson, Joe Deutsch and Ron Sorvaag have done an outstanding job and should be re-elected.

Johnson has a broad understanding of the parks’ overall needs, but knows to concentrate on specific needs when necessary. For example, she’s working with dog owners to establish another dog park and improve management of an existing park. She wants to work with nearby jurisdictions to improve and connect the urban trail system. She knows the details of the budget.

Deutsch’s professional credentials in education and recreation serve the park system very well. He is a strong advocate of collaboration with the city and school district, and notes relations among the jurisdictions are good and getting better. He would like to see an indoor park for winter use. His enthusiasm for parks generates ideas, concepts and vision.

Sorvaag crunches the numbers, and does so with uncommon skill. He is expert in budget and finances. He relishes a watchdog role in holding down the mill levy, which the district has done. His long-range outlook folds in potential solutions to parkland flooding.

All three incumbents favor a new regional park in south Fargo. They also intend to keep taxpayers free of entanglement with the Urban Plains Center.

West Fargo

Denise Johnson, Sharon Odegaard and Ken Zetocha have worked hard to keep the parks apace with rapid growth. They deserve re-election.

Johnson is fully aware of the district’s needs, having served five terms. She understands the need for balance among neighborhood parks, sports venues and recreation mandates.

Odegaard is committed to partnerships within and outside the district if they enhance West Fargo’s parks. She understands the budget and has been instrumental in holding taxes in check while developing the system. She cautions against single-issue or special- interest candidates, who might not understand the district’s overall needs.

Zetocha also advocates partnerships, especially as the park system expands with the population. He would work with Fargo to connect the bike/walking trail system with south Fargo’s. Adding capacity to ball and soccer fields is among his priorities.

All three incumbents know the Veterans Pool is on life support. They are looking at plans to replace and possibly relocate the pool.

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