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Published March 12 2013

Walaker to seek third term, but for which seat?

FARGO – Fargo Mayor Dennis Walaker said Tuesday he plans to seek re-election in 2014, but he hasn’t decided yet whether he will run for a third term as mayor or for a City Commission seat.

Deputy Mayor Tim Mahoney said he will run for mayor if Walaker doesn’t.

“If Denny chose to run for commission, I would run for mayor,” Mahoney said, sitting next to Walaker in an SUV as they toured the southern Red River Valley to gauge the threat of spring flooding.

Fargo’s City Commission is made up of the mayor and four commissioners elected at large.

Walaker and Mahoney were both elected in 2006 and re-elected in 2010. Their terms expire in June 2014, and each is eligible for one more consecutive term on the commission. City law allows three terms in a row on the commission and four terms total.

In explaining why he may not seek a third term as mayor, Walaker said he would like to have more time for himself and his family, including his two grandsons. Fargo has a part-time mayor’s position, but Walaker has carried on the tradition set by former Mayor Bruce Furness and treated it as a full-time job.

On the other hand, Walaker, who retired after 17 years as Fargo Public Works director to run for mayor, said he wants to remain on the commission until construction begins on the Red River diversion project, which awaits federal funding approval.

“I don’t want to see the direction of the city changed,” he said.

Mahoney, a surgeon at Essentia Health, expressed similar sentiments about unfinished city business.

“There’s just so many things we’re working on in the city, it’s hard not to want to see them come to fruition,” he said.

Mahoney said he will not challenge Walaker for the mayor’s seat if Walaker decides to run.

“We’ve had a good relationship,” Mahoney said.

With the June 10, 2014, election still a ways off, the 72-year-old Walaker said he has about six months to make up his mind.

“I’ve got some time,” he said.

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Readers can reach Forum reporter Mike Nowatzki at (701) 241-5528