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Published October 31 2012

Forum editorial: Scherling, Schneider for Cass

Elections for Cass County commissioners usually are about rural roads, taxes and law enforcement. Not this time. The overriding issue in the elections in District 1 and District 5 is the Red River diversion. Everything else takes second seat to a project that will protect permanently the Fargo metro and its environs from a major flood. A candidate who expresses doubt or qualification about the project should not be on the Cass County Commission.

In that regard, Cass and Fargo voters should elect Mary Scherling in District 5 and Rocky Schneider in District 1. Both have made themselves informed about the project and have been steadfast in their support.

Scherling’s opponent is Brandy Pyle of Casselton. She has an impressive resume, but in a response to a Forum question about the diversion, she said: “… I support flood control for Fargo, but there are issues with the current plan I do not agree with.” That’s a disqualifier.

Schneider’s opponent in District 5 is Chad Peterson, who is a good candidate, but regarding the diversion, said this: “… we must ensure all those affected … are treated fairly and equitably.” Nice thought but impossible because “fairly and equitably” have different meanings to different interests. The diversion surely will be unfair and inequitable to many people, but it is a commissioner’s duty to sort that factor through and unambiguously support the project.

Scherling and Schneider have prepared themselves for the county jobs by being serious students of county policy, including but not exclusive to the diversion project. Schneider, for example, has been a regular attendee at Diversion Authority meetings but like Scherling is well-versed in the many other challenges facing the state’s largest population county.

At any other time, Peterson and Pyle would measure up. But the diversion changes the equation because it is so important to the future of Cass County, Fargo and, in the larger economic context, all of North Dakota.

Scherling and Schneider have the edge. They are the right people for the commission at this crucial time in the county’s history.

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