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Published June 16 2012

Forum editorial: Mayor had very good week

By any measure, Fargo Mayor Dennis Walaker had a very good week last week. He weathered overblown criticism for endorsing Melissa Sobolik to replace an incumbent commissioner on the City Commission. She emerged as the top vote-getter. He came out on top after risking his stature and credibility by enthusiastically supporting extension of the city half-cent sales tax for flood protection,

when two commissioners were campaigning against it. He got rid of one-term Commissioner Dave Piepkorn who, the mayor suggested, was out of step with the city’s decade of progress.

Not bad for the two-term mayor – and, for that matter, for the people of Fargo. Not bad for a mayor who has endured more than a year of battering from angry and sometimes personally nasty opponents of the proposed Fargo-Moorhead diversion – the project the mayor has said is the most important initiative of his tenure.

About those critics who charged it was not proper for the mayor to endorse Sobolik: Give it up. Why shouldn’t he support a candidate he believes will be an ally? Why shouldn’t he support a candidate who will represent a demographic that has not been represented for a long time? Obviously, the voters agreed with the mayor.

And the notion that Sobolik will be a “yes man” for the mayor – or anyone else – is insulting and just plain wrong. Anyone who has spent time with Sobolik knows she is her own person with strong views on public policy that might or might not conform to the mayor’s views.

Finally, the mayor’s campaign for the sales tax extension was one of the factors that made the difference. While two commissioners worked against the extension, Walaker took the lead with two other commissioners to convince voters the tax was necessary. He prevailed in part because his record when it comes to protecting Fargo from high water is unassailable.

The mayor had a good week last week. So did the city.

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