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Wendy Reuer, Published September 04 2012

West Fargo City Commission: List of candidates to be trimmed to 3

WEST FARGO – A list of seven City Commission candidates here will be narrowed to three finalists by Friday.

West Fargo city commissioners asked residents to submit application letters to fill the remaining term of Commissioner Lou Bennett, who announced Aug. 6 that he was moving out of the area to be closer to family.

Seven men have since applied: Mark Akers, a maintenance worker and more than 20-year resident; Duane Breitling, retired attorney at Ohnstad Twichell Law Firm; Mark Wentz, president and general manager of Red River Electric Inc., Moorhead; Barry Miller, staff accountant for Bryce Anderson & Associates, PLLC, Fargo; Brad Olson, agricultural program specialist for USDA Farm Service Agency, North Dakota state office; Jason Pratschner, sales and marketing/business development/project management for Industrial Contract Services, Inc.; and Richard Lewis, retired equipment operator for the Cass County Highway Department. Both Breitling and Lewis ran unsuccessfully for City Commission seats in 2010.

Bennett’s term expires in June 2014. He was first elected to the commission in 2002.

A final deadline for choosing a commissioner has not yet been determined, Mayor Rich Mattern said Tuesday. City laws do not outline a time frame for the process.

“There’s no deadline, but obviously the sooner the better,” Assistant City Attorney John Shockley said Tuesday.

The commission has never had to appoint a board member to fill a remaining term, Mattern said. The only other time a commissioner stepped down was in 2000 when now-Cass County Commissioner Darrell Vanyo moved out of the city limits.

At that time, a petition was circulated to call for a special election, and Brenda Warren served the remaining five months of Vanyo’s term.

Mattern asked commissioners Tuesday night to assign points to their top three choices. After the finalists are determined by the point system, interviews will be scheduled, “hopefully soon,” Mattern said.

Preliminary budget approved

The City Commission here unanimously passed its $34.9 million 2013 preliminary budget Tuesday night.

“It’s still 91 mills, virtually no change from last year,” said West Fargo City Administrator Jim Brownlee on Tuesday.

Brownlee attributed the increased city revenue to business and residential growth and increased home valuations, among other factors.

Once the City Commission approves a preliminary budget, the budget can decrease but not increase, according to state law, Brownlee said.

A public hearing is scheduled at 6 p.m. Oct. 1 regarding the budget.

West Fargo Pioneer Editor Karen Huber contributed to this report.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Wendy Reuer at (701) 241-5530

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