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Published November 01 2013

Forum editorial: Change for Moorhead council

Nearly every candidate on Tuesday’s ballot for the Moorhead City Council sounded similar themes in meetings with The Forum’s Editorial Board: economic development downtown; flood control; basic city services; the city’s unique identity in the metro; the value of college students; the train problem.

But not every candidate articulated both the nuts-and-bolts approaches and the broader vision to address those concerns. We like these four:

1st Ward

As a teacher who also has previous experience in small business, Mari Daily can bring valuable perspective to the council. She has an excellent grasp of her city’s diversity, weaknesses and potential strengths.

Among her priorities is finishing the city’s flood control work within the context of being an active partner in progress of the Fargo-Moorhead diversion. She knows her ward’s needs but also sees them as being accomplished only if the city can develop a comprehensive approach to its future. She has a measured, informed style the council could use.

2nd Ward

Jim Haney, who has owned a photography business in Moorhead for years, would bring change and pragmatic perspective to his ward and to the council. Long-time incumbent Mark Altenburg seems to relish confrontation when it’s not necessary or productive.

Haney is a down-to-earth small businessman. He’s watched his city make major mistakes (the Interstate ramp fiasco, for example) and believes he can bring common sense and practicality to the debate. Ask him a question and you’ll get a no-nonsense, honest answer.

He understands the sometimes tense but always necessary relationship with Fargo, and fully supports the diversion, even as Moorhead completes is flood protection plan.

3rd Ward

Incumbent Brenda Elmer has earned re-election by virtue of her steady, informed voice on the council. She thinks the sometimes dysfunctional council will do better with a new mayor, and believes the city must embrace its own identity and vision as a full partner in the metro.

A supporter of the diversion, she is appropriately cautious about committing local money to the project until other funding is secure and concerns upstream are addressed.

She also is unafraid to confront the obvious problems associated with city staff accountability as it affects council deliberations. Fixing the situation is among her priorities.

4th Ward

Of the four candidates seeking to fill an open seat in the 4th, Chuck Hendrickson stands out. He knows the on-the-ground issues in his ward (snow removal, water main breaks), and has analyzed correctly mistakes the city has made.

He believes Moorhead can rebrand itself and emerge as a unique destination in the F-M metro. He understands the diversion will provide permanent flood protection from a record flood, and says Moorhead should have a place at the table but not put more money into the project at this time.

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