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Published November 02 2013

Forum editorial: New face for a new Moorhead

If Moorhead residents are serious about improving the city’s image and charting a course to becoming a unique place in the metro, new leadership is essential. The face of Moorhead often is the mayor, so that’s where change should be prominent.

To that desirable end, voters should choose Del Rae Williams as the city’s next mayor. A newcomer to local politics, she is not new to the challenges confronting her city. She has been active in civic and community groups and has used that broad experience as a barometer to gauge the city’s strengths, weaknesses and potential.

Of her last-minute decision to run for mayor, Williams said she was convinced when so many friends and others in Moorhead urged her to get into the race. Many of them, she said, were not satisfied with the other candidates.

In that regard, mayoral candidates Mike Hulett and Mark Hintermeyer are council members who have been hip-deep in the conflicts and controversies that have stymied Moorhead’s progress. Both are personally dedicated to the city’s progress, but the public record suggests they tend to be wedded to my-way-or-the-highway styles of conduct.

Candidate Kevin Shores’ position on the legalization of cannabis will not fly with Moorhead voters.

Hintermeyer’s knee-jerk reaction to the Fargo-side North Dakota Chamber billboard was less-than-mature. His opposition to using city funds to repair the roof on the Rourke Museum contradicts the city’s stated desire to be a home for the arts.

Hulett recently demonstrated a very thin skin when he was called out about his comments published over the years in The Forum, which can be characterized at best as intemperate.

Williams is not of that ilk. She is informed and open, not only to new ideas but to criticism of her own ideas. She would be as much a catalyst for intelligent and civil debate as she would be the officeholder charged with conducting council meetings. She would bring to the table a level of sensitivity regarding all residents of the city, not exclusively the power brokers or the loudest voices.

And while every member of the council has given lip service to making the city more student-friendly, the fallout from flawed city policy has been anything but welcoming to the thousands of college students who live and study in Moorhead. Hintermeyer and Hulett have had plenty of time to change the city’s approach to one of the most important segments of the population. Williams regards the college/city situation as a serious failure of policy, and she should be given an opportunity to do better.

If a new mayor can work with a few new voices on the council, Moorhead can change direction, improve its image and begin to really ramp up basic city services, which have slipped. “Out with the old, in with the new” is not merely a slogan if the “new” has the maturity, empathy and vision candidate Williams will bring to the council table.

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