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Published January 16 2013

Forum editorial: Voxland’s legacy is secure

Mark Voxland’s announcement that he will not seek re-election as Moorhead’s mayor comes as no surprise to people who have been listening to him over the past few months, or years, for that matter. The mayor, whose service has been distinguished by his dedication and his demeanor, has been hinting broadly that he’s ready to step away from the responsibilities and pressures of the mayor’s office.

Nonetheless, the residents of Moorhead will be hard-pressed to replace Voxland with a mayor who can bring to the job the qualities that made Voxland’s tenure successful. A 3rd Ward councilman for 14 years, he was elected mayor in 2001 – a long record of service for any municipal officeholder in the Fargo-Moorhead area. His time in City Hall as councilman and mayor is a testament to the faith voters have had in him for a long time.

Often low-key and unruffled in public, the mayor is known to summon up his temper when the appropriate occasion presents itself. Leading a City Council that has been described as a herd of squabbling cats, Voxland’s steady hand often has been the factor in getting things done for his city. He has seen council members come and go, but his reliable leadership has been a constant during a time when Moorhead needed continuity, experience and calm on the council. As ward voters were routinely tossing out incumbents, the mayor, running at large, easily won re-election twice.

The city faced all sorts of challenges during Voxland’s years, like any city. But probably the most stressful for the mayor, council members and the residents of the city were the flood crises of the past few years. In fact, it was the devastating flood of 2009 that convinced Voxland to run for a third term. He’d planned to step down after two terms.

There’s a lot to admire in Voxland’s legacy of leadership, but permanent flood protection for the city has to be the crown jewel. A few days ago the mayor announced that the city has only 3.5 miles of levee left to build to protect the city to a 42.5-foot crest on the Red River. That’s a huge accomplishment that ensures the city can breathe a lot easier when the river rises, which it surely will do.

Voxland won’t be going anywhere soon. He’ll be leading his city for several months. But his announcement gives potential mayoral candidates time to prepare a campaign. It’s a safe bet several hopefuls, including a couple of members of the council, will be in the running.

For his part, Voxland can take some satisfaction in the good work he did – and continues to do – for Moorhead. He leaves a legacy of service of which any public official would be proud.

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