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Published June 08 2012

Forum editorial: For Fargo schools: Re-elect 4

Fargo public schools are among the best in the nation. That kind of success requires leadership, commitment and occasional risk-taking. The four incumbent school board members on Tuesday’s ballot have excellent records of service and have earned re-election.

Jim Johnson, Paul Meyers, Robin Nelson and John Strand negotiated the sometimes rough road of school district oversight at a time when challenges ranged from curriculum to buildings. The result is a better, stronger, more responsive school system that is prepared to accommodate whatever the future brings.

Johnson’s knowledge of public education is expansive and nuanced. He’s been around long enough to avoid pitfalls and plan wisely for a sure-to-be challenging future. He knows school finance. He’s earned a third term.

Meyers’ interest in education goes back to his time as a classroom teacher – a history that has served him and the schools well during his 12 years on the board. Never reluctant to be on the losing side of a debate, he’s been an informed and sometimes appropriately cautious voice regarding school policy. Voters should return him to the board.

Nelson’s two terms have been distinguished by her measured, informed service. Her work with youth and her passion for the community bring a unique and valuable perspective to the board. She is direct, to the point and an effective consensus builder. She’s earned another term.

If every public board needs a gadfly, Strand fits the role. Often a lone voice on the nine-member board, he puts advocacy for students above all, even when he might be in conflict with other board priorities. His questions and concerns are based in good research. He’ll serve the schools well in a second term.

Several challengers in the

11-candidate field are qualified to serve. But it is somewhat concerning that most of them got into the race at the last minute when it appeared only incumbents would be on the ballot. It smacks of opportunism rather than commitment.

Park board

Two experienced and dedicated members of the Fargo Park Board should be re-elected.

Barb Johnson and Joel Vettel have done excellent work for an excellent park district. They have helped build and extend partnerships and collaborations. They have been instrumental in enhancing park administration and developing a responsive and professional parks staff. Both have worked to modernize and expand park programs and facilities, including securing land in the city’s growth neighborhoods for new parks. That long-term vision will pay off handsomely for coming generations.

Challengers Ryan Bergseth and Dan Dumas have good ideas about parks and recreation, but the incumbents have earned re-election.

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