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Cali Owings, Published March 24 2014

Moorhead council agrees to extend terms when it switches to even-numbered election years

MOORHEAD – After voters approved switching city elections to even years in November, Moorhead council members decided Monday to serve extended terms.

Under state law, if cities decide to change their election schedule, current council members’ terms are automatically extended by one year. The council approved an ordinance Monday to reflect the switch to even-numbered election years, and by default extend their terms.

Monday was the third time the measure came before the council for approval.

Councilman Steve Gehrtz previously proposed shortening their terms by one year to match the even-year election schedule, but his proposal failed.

In a subsequent meeting, Gehrtz, Nancy Otto and Brenda Elmer voted against changing city code to reflect the switch to even-year elections on principle that they shouldn’t add time to their terms. The matter was tabled.

Otto and Elmer again voted against the measure Monday, but Gehrtz was absent. The ordinance passed with Heidi Durand, Mike Hulett, Mari Daily, Jim Haney and Chuck Hendrickson voting in favor.

Even though her vote did not affect the outcome, Elmer said it was just “good governance” to vote against extending her own term.

She said she struggled with the issue because she respects the voters’ choice to move to even-year elections.

“I was elected to a four-year term, not a five-year term, so I don’t want to make that call,” she said.

Gehrtz, Otto, Durand and Hulett will now serve through 2016. Dailey, Haney, Elmer, Hendrickson and newly elected Mayor Del Rae Williams will serve through 2018.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Cali Owings at (701) 241-5599