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  • Area mayors talk challenges, successes at 2021 State of the Cities

  • Area mayors talk challenges, successes at 2021 State of the Cities

    Area mayors talk challenges, successes at 2021 State of the Cities

    Challenges, opportunities, growth, goals and successes from the past year were discussed by our area’s mayors at January’s State of the Cities event. Xcel Energy’s Tony Grindberg emceed. Our local leaders discussed everything from pandemic response and impact, taxes, infrastructure and area amenities, diversity and inclusion initiatives, career workforce academies, flood protection, and opportunities for collaboration. Some of the highlights from each city are below.

    Chad Olson, Dilworth
    Mayor Olson described new commercial projects happening in Dilworth’s rail district, noting its moniker after the city’s history with a connection to the railroad. He called out the Silver Spike Restaurant, high-density housing along Highway 10, and the Keystone development. “We are posed to develop in any part of town,” he said, “We have the infrastructure set up, and we’ve made the necessary adjustments and investments to be prepared to continue with pragmatic growth in the city.”

    Speaking to just one collaborative effort, Olson talked about the investments made with federal dollars to increase funding in metro area transit, which makes Dilworth more accessible and gives greater opportunity to its residents. “Collaborations are key in every facet of society … it’s how cities and individuals are able to get things done,” he said.

    New priorities include creating building code regulations that puts Minnesota “on par with our cross-river neighbors by making housing more affordable,” as well as expanding border cities legislation to include property tax relief and business-employee relief to level the playing field, “and would have long-lasting positive impacts for neighboring cities across the river.”

    Johnathan Judd, Moorhead
    “We have a lot going on in the city, and we need to be more bold in advertising that,” Mayor Judd commented, mentioning the RiverHaven and Armory event centers.

    He described the three core values of Moorhead as arts, academics and athletics, and is looking at the possibilities that a local option sales tax would provide to further enhance and keep Moorhead “on top of being an arts and cultural epicenter for the region.”

    Speaking to the FM Area Diversion, Judd said that he is very proud and happy to see that what was dividing our community, is now helping us come together for a successful project.

    Tim Mahoney, Fargo
    Mayor Mahoney described Fargo’s five strong initiatives – nurturing the heart of our community, working for you, accomplishing big things, striving for everyday excellence, and leading the region. Learn more about these in the city’s video and webpage at FargoND.gov/Strong2021.

    Mahoney also discussed livable neighborhoods, the 64th Avenue overpass project, connectivity on the city’s south side, supporting the workforce academy, a new sports complex project in collaboration with the parks, a soon-to-be-built stormwater pond, as well as excitement over the FM Diversion being full-steam ahead to protect our metro.

    Referencing headlines such as our region being the hottest job market in the country and best place to start a career, and crediting our people as the reason, he said “This new Fargo, one that has changed considerably over the last few decades, is better because of this evolution. We can sell this community, and we can sell the metro, and we will attract people, and that is what we all want.”

    Kory Peterson, Horace
    As a city on the grow, Mayor Peterson reported that Horace had 92 housing permits last year, as opposed to about 20 four years ago. Mentioning that infrastructure can be a challenge to keep up with growth, they are looking at improvements to the city’s water, sewer and road, and decomissioning lagoons.

    Peterson described a group that was formed four years ago called “Envision Horace.” Citizens got together to plan for the future and help build Horace’s identity. He gave much credit to the schools as a big arena for play for the area, and the migration from a bedroom community to a small urban town.

    Bernie Dardis, West Fargo
    Mayor Dardis discussed the growth and development in downtown West Fargo, as well as several new multi-use buildings along Sheyenne Street and the Red River Water Supply. He gave credit to new police chief Denis Otterness, whom he called “an outstanding leader” and described the commitment to community engagement across law enforcement and schools.

    Dardis talked about assessing the community and a new focus on diversity, inclusion and culture. He also shared about opportunities to help the disadvantaged, saying “As elected officials, we have to address the inequities that are there, inequities that are broad-based, from homelessness to feeding people to the like.”

    In addition to the mayors’ presentations and live polling, attendees got the opportunity to ask questions of their own.

    We asked, you answered
    This year, we once again conducted live polls to find out how attendees felt about various issues. Once again, workforce came in number one as the top issue, followed by housing and infrastructure—a deviation from last year’s second spot being behavioral and mental health. Attendees also felt that the best way to handle the states’ budget deficit was to develop new forms of revenue. Here are the official results.
     
    Which of these do you see as the biggest challenges impacting our community?

    With both Minnesota and North Dakota facing expected deficits as they build a budget for the 2021-23 biennium, what approach(es) do you think they should take?

    We thank all of our attendees, sponsors and elected officials for their support of this event.

    Check out some of these Tweets from attendees!

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