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Steve Gehrtz, Published November 02 2013

Letter: Keep local focus on Moorhead elections: Vote ‘no’ on change

I strongly suggest that Moorhead residents vote “no” to change the city council and mayoral races to even-year elections.

The Moorhead Charter Commission brought this charter change to the Moorhead City Council earlier this year and the council voted 7-1 against the change. The primary reason cited by those voting against the change was that consolidating the election process with the state and national elections allowed the local issues and candidates to get lost in all the state and national election coverage.

Currently, the city council and mayor elections are the primary issues on the ballot in the odd years. This allows our residents the ability to get to know the positions, backgrounds and personalities of the candidates. On Sunday, The Forum did an excellent job of profiling the four candidates for mayor on 2½ pages. If the elections were grouped with the state and national elections, this would have never reached the front page, much less two full pages in the first section of the paper. Thank you to The Forum for the coverage of our candidates.

The Moorhead Charter Commission’s responsibility is to review the charter of the city and recommend changes that pertain to the charter and not give budget recommendations. While they have the authority to bring issues to the voters, they have overstepped their authority to make this change under the guise of budget concerns. The odd-year election process costs the city of Moorhead’s residents less than 50 cents every two years to make certain that voters have an opportunity to focus solely on the local issues and candidates.

I urge voters of Moorhead to vote “no” on the election year change. If approved, the savings will not affect a single taxpayer’s tax bill but rather will allow the state and national elections to set the course for discussions while allowing local issues be brushed aside.

Gehrtz is a member of the Moorhead City Council.