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Erik Burgess, Published January 27 2014

Moorhead council votes down shorter terms

MOORHEAD – City Council members here will be serving extra-long terms because of council actions taken Monday night.

Residents voted last year to change the City Charter so that city elections would be held on even-numbered years instead of odd-numbered years.

If cities change their election schedule, state law dictates that each council member’s term is extended by one year to the next even year. But councils are allowed to pass an ordinance that sets up another so-called “orderly transition.”

Councilman Steve Gehrtz called extending his term by a year the “incorrect thing to do,” and he made a motion to instead shorten each member’s term by a year.

“I personally feel that I was elected to a four-year term, not a five-year term,” Gehrtz said.

His motion failed 2-6, so the city will revert to the state law. Only Gehrtz and Councilwoman Nancy Otto voted for it.

“They elected me to serve four years, and to cut that short, I think, would cut our citizens short,” council member Heidi Durand said.

If Gehrtz’s motion had passed, there would have been another city election this year for the four council members who were up for re-election in 2015 – Gehrtz, Otto, Durand and Mike Hulett. They will now serve through 2016. Mari Dailey, Jim Haney, Brenda Elmer, Chuck Hendrickson and newly elected Mayor Del Rae Williams will serve through 2018.


Readers can reach Forum reporter Erik Burgess at (701) 241-5518