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Published November 06 2013

Forum editorial: Moorhead goes with newbies

The spins and postmortems over Moorhead’s city election will take all manner of tacks and turns. But the result – expected by some, shocking to others – suggests change was the common denominator. The election of a new break-the-mold mayor was enough to signal that the voters of Moorhead did not want more of the same. Add newcomers who will join the City Council, and desire for change as expressed at the ballot box cannot be minimized.

Mayor-elect Del Rae Williams, who didn’t get into the race until the last minute, knocked off two well-known, well-tested members of the City Council: Mike Hulett and Mark Hintermeyer. The losers can claim that if only one of them had been on the ballot, Williams would not have won. But that sour-grapes analysis is not the way city elections work. Williams won because: one, she’s a new, fresh voice; two, she conducted a sincere, low-key campaign and piled up a plurality of votes; and three, support for the status quo was not as settled as her opponents assumed.

Keep in mind, the past two mayors had been long-time council members, and then were elected mayor and then re-elected several times. Williams’ pedigree does not include elected public office but rather features a record of public service. She’s the first woman mayor in Moorhead’s history, a milestone of significance.

In the wards, each race was different. But when the votes were counted, only one incumbent, Brenda Elmer in the 3rd, was re-elected. Her opponent was a recently graduated college student, and he was out-campaigned by the incumbent. In the other three wards newcomers to public office won. And they did so in a field of generally good competitors.

A new day for Moorhead? Will new faces and new ideas translate into a new vision and smarter direction for Moorhead? It’s too soon to tell. But given the winners’ statements during the campaign, the people of the city should hold the new council members’ feet to the fire.


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