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Karen Huber, Forum Communications, Published August 07 2012

Lou Bennett resigns from West Fargo City Commission

WEST FARGO – After 29 years as a resident here – 10 of those as a city commissioner – Lou Bennett announced Monday he is pulling up roots and moving southeast to be closer to family, at least during the winter months.

Bennett announced at the City Commission meeting Monday night that he will step down from his third four-year term and move with his wife, Barbara, “to the little town of Bluffton, South Carolina,” where they have purchased a home.

He first was elected to the commission in 2002 and was re-elected in 2006 and 2010. His present term expires June 2014.

Bennett said they sold their West Fargo home in June and are currently living in their lake home on Star Lake. They’ll move to Bluffton in mid-September, where they plan to live in the winter, returning to Star Lake for the summer.

Bennett was born and raised in Bluffton. His brother and two nieces live there.

“This is something we had talked about over the years, and the past couple of years we made a decision,” Bennett said. “My brother is getting up in age, and we decided once Barb retired we would go somewhere down South. We made that decision last December when we saw a house there we liked and bought it.”

His wife retired Dec. 31 after 30 years with the Internal Revenue Service.

Bennett said he enjoyed his years on the commission from the “very beginning. I felt it was something I should do – to give back a little something to the community, and this was my way of doing it.”

During his tenure, he covered the gamut, holding all the city portfolios twice, including police and fire, sewer and water and, most recently, sanitation. He also served a stint as the board’s vice president, presiding in the mayor’s absence, and served for several years as city liaison on both the library and forestry boards.

Bennett proudly mentions the Ninth Street overpass that segues into Veterans Boulevard, now a high construction zone area, as an accomplishment.

“We got that going and built, and that has been a big boon for the area,” he said. “We now have a Costco coming to town, which will result in good competition for the area. Between that and the hospital across the street will be the basis for drawing more business throughout that commercial area.”

After the resignation announcement Monday night, West Fargo Mayor Rich Mattern commended Bennett for his dedication to the board.

“We’ve certainly seen many positive changes through the years, and a great deal of it is due to your hard work in keeping West Fargo a city on the grow. You and I have agreed on many issues and voted that way. Conversely, we’ve also disagreed on some issues, but that is the way it should be,” he said.

As for filling Bennett’s vacated position, city ordinance says that if a commissioner resigns in the middle of his term, there‘s a 15-day time period in which a special election can be requested by a petition signed by 5 percent of the citizens who voted in the last election.

If the 15 days pass without a petition for a special election, an individual can be appointed by the City Commission to fill the unexpired term until the next regular city election.