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Published June 12 2012

Fargo City Commission: Sobolik, Williams eke out wins

FARGO – With the backing of the mayor and the promise of a fresh voice, Melissa Sobolik edged her way onto the Fargo City Commission on Tuesday.

In complete but unofficial results, Sobolik, 32, won 31 percent of the vote, putting her atop a tight three-way race for two seats on the commission.

Incumbent Mike Williams, 56, won his third term on the commission with 30 percent of the vote.

Neither Sobolik nor Williams could be reached for comment late Tuesday night. Final vote tallies were reported just after midnight Wednesday.

Dave Piepkorn, 51, who was seeking a second term, took 28 percent of the vote. He lost out to Williams by about 800 votes.

Sobolik, Williams and Piepkorn all said flood protection was the city’s top issue. All three said they supported the proposed Red River Diversion plan.

Sobolik and Williams also said urban infill was a big issue.

During the campaign, Sobolik drew the endorsement of Fargo Mayor Dennis Walaker – the first time in six years in office that Walaker has endorsed a city commission candidate.

Walaker, a voting member of the commission, said Sobolik “has done an exemplary job of doing her research,” adding that a woman commissioner would bring a new perspective to the commission, which is currently all male.

Walaker didn’t say which incumbent he wanted Sobolik to replace, but he has butted heads with Piepkorn on multiple issues.

The other challenger, Anthony Gehrig, an intelligence analyst for the North Dakota National Guard, had 11 percent of the vote.

Gehrig, 28, said he ran because he believes Fargo residents are overtaxed and the city budget is bloated. He cited irresponsible spending as the city’s biggest issue.

Fargo commissioners serve four-year terms and receive an annual salary of $21,938. Newly elected commissioners take office in July.