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John Lamb, Published June 05 2010

Lamb: Deconstructing election candidates’ yard signs

Summer is here, and every Fargo and West Fargo motorist’s attention turns to – elections. Or, more particularly, election signs.

Voters are doing double takes as they pass by some candidates’ signs leading up to Tuesday’s city elections. Like, is that really Fargo City Commission candidate Melissa Sobolik perched on her yard sign?

No, it’s just a life-size cut-out. The sign touts Sobolik as “a new point of view,” apparently as opposed to incumbents Timothy Mahoney and Brad Wimmer. What it really says is “I have poise, confidence and can sit comfortably and smile through hours of boring meetings.”

Wimmer is one of the few candidates to list his platform’s stances, which is good because I don’t think I would vote for someone who was against long-term flood protection or responsible growth.

Mahoney uses a picture of himself in his signature safety vest and a Fargo Fire Department baseball cap to remind voters of his role in the flood fight – as if we could forget.

Challenger Larry Bosma also wears a hat in his photos – not just any hat, but a fedora. The implication here is that Bosma is suave like a 1940s film star and rough and tumble like Indiana Jones, and therefore the candidate for those who think Fargo City Council meetings need to be sexed up and more exciting.

Speaking of exciting, if her signs are any indication, Fargo School Board hopeful Kristen Wallman has a groundswell of support worthy of an “American Idol” hopeful.

Her signs proclaim “We Want WALLMAN,” which, combined with the nine white hands reaching for her name suggests she is a favorite of ghost students or she received the zombie endorsement.

Color is important, and West Fargo candidates Mike Thorstad (mayor), David Olson and Rhonda Hawley (school board) have all gone green, sporting their Packer pride.

Hawley also uses the outline of an apple, suggesting she’s a hit with teachers.

The apple motif is popular for West Fargo School Board races. Ben Koppelman used a juicy red sign to get elected in 2008. But some depictions may leave a sour taste in voters’ mouths come Tuesday.

Judy Kvaale’s sign features an apple, but also a worm emerging from the fruit. Yes, it’s cute, but unless she’s promoting public school composting, you have to wonder what exactly she is saying about West Fargo Schools.



Readers can reach Forum columnist John Lamb at (701) 241-5533