• The Chamber - Local Election Guide
  • 2022 FMWF Community Elections

  • YOUR VOTE MATTERS | VOTE ON JUNE 14

  • The Chamber is committed to sharing election and candidate information to encourage civic participation in elections. We encourage you to take advantage of these materials and opportunities as you prepare to cast your vote. Though we don’t endorse candidates, we are dedicated to educating members of the community on candidates and their stances.

    Below you will find candidate information and Q&As, as well as video recordings of our 2022 candidate forums.

    Voting locations, absentee / mail-in and more information can be found here.

  • FARGO

  • Fargo Mayoral Fargo Mayoral

  • Fargo Mayoral Candidate Forum - 4/25/22
  • Micheal Borgie Micheal Borgie

     

    Biography:

    Michael Borgie resides in the Prairiewood neighborhood with his wife of 21+ years, Cathy Borgie. Michael and Cathy met in Fargo in the 90s and have since lived in various parts of the country including the east coast and Minneapolis, as well as Manitoba, Canada. After mastering his culinary craft and working for various corporate executive leadership teams across the country, he decided to come back to the place that felt most like home to him: Fargo.

    Having spent 45+ years in the hospitality industry in various bar, restaurant, and hotel establishments, Borgie has not only mastered his culinary craft, but also the art of managing people. He prides himself on listening and working collaboratively with others as opposed to giving orders.

    Living and working in Fargo, Borgie sees the best and worst in the city, especially in the hospitality industry. The best being the generous and kind-hearted people he interacts with daily that make Fargo great, and the worst being those same people not feeling safe in their beloved community due to the lack of enforcement of current laws. Reminiscing on a time when people walked freely downtown without a worry or concern that they may be in danger, Borgie says it’s just not the same Fargo he once experienced. His mission is to serve Fargo residents to get Fargo back on track to the safe, desirable community is meant to be before it’s too late.

    Hukun Dabar Hukun Dabar

     

    View in-depth and detailed Q&A

    Biography:

    A committed community leader, Hukun is the founder of a nonprofit with offices in Fargo-Moorhead, Minneapolis, and Saint Paul, which provides support to vulnerable communities in the form of skills development and economic empowerment. Hukun completed his bachelor’s degree of Science at Minnesota State University of Moorhead and was selected to Harvard Business School’s Minnesota Young Americans Leaders Program.

    Before moving to Fargo, Hukun served on the Council of Minnesotans of African Heritage and the Minnesota Governor’s Task Force on Housing. Most recently, Hukun hosted a delegation of lawmakers from Kenya to help foster economic partnerships between Kenyan and North Dakota-based businesses to increase trade and economic opportunities for both communities. He has received humanitarian awards from the Moorhead Human Rights Commission and the Fargo Human Relations Commission.

    Sheri Fercho Sheri Fercho

     

    Biography:

    I am Sheri Fercho, a God-first Candidate for Mayoress for the City of Fargo. Second, a stay-at-home mom with a teenage son at Davies High School. Last, a native of Fargo who loves all four seasons, especially winter.

    My spirit led me to take notice in my Rose Creek Neighborhood for shrub roses at the entrances, my church to match its garden grounds with its vintage appeal and showed me to relish the trees around my city for the attributes they bring to our lives.

    My goal and platform are to BUILD A BETTER CITY. The foundation upon which the blessing is associated with the gift of life. Blessing and life are closely tied together. These relate to protection in God’s creation. The foundation to take care of the land, historic district, and trees will repay our citizens and our beloved city in dividends of beauty and aesthetic quality that will reflect through policies of design standards, beautification projects, use of bodies of water for recreation and beautiful spaces for walking and wildlife.

    Tim Mahoney Tim Mahoney

     

    Biography:

    Dr. Tim Mahoney is an astute businessman, having worked in private practice and large healthcare organizations. Because Tim has managed employees and run businesses, he has real, applicable insights into all aspects of running a successful company.

    As Mayor, he’s shown that he understands the needs of the business community. He stays keenly attuned to attracting new business and supporting entrepreneurial dreams. He’ll stay committed to growing the local economy with initiatives that continue to build a better Fargo. Fargo needs a business friendly environment to help with growth and attract organizations.

    Dr. Mahoney is a board-certified surgeon. He works at LRHC and is licensed in North Dakota and Minnesota. Because he’s part-time in group practice, he has the flexibility to be able to dedicate time to city business. He will continue the good work he’s already started.

    Tim has held leadership posts throughout his career, including serving as Chief of Surgery for several regional hospitals, teaching at UND School of Medicine’s Department of Surgery, serving as a board member for area medical centers, and holding executive positions in multiple medical corporations.

    He has helped frame new business partners that improved health care delivery in the community. He has received multiple awards, but the one he is most proud of is being named North Dakota Community Physician of the Year in 2010 for his efforts in the flood fight in 2009.

    Education

    • Bachelor of Science from Notre Dame University in 1971

    • Medical degree from combined UND School of Medicine and Tufts University School of Medicine, Boston, MA in 1974.

    • Surgical residency at Hennepin County Medical Center, Minneapolis, MN in 1980

    • Master’s degree in Health Care Management from Harvard School of Public Health in 2005

    Family Life

    Tim is a North Dakota native who grew up in Devils Lake. He and his wife, Kathy, live in south Fargo. His youngest son, Dylan, is attending NDSU. They also have three grown children: Ryan, Kaileen, Colin, and 5 grandchildren.

    Keeping family and community close to heart, Tim and Kathy live and work in Fargo. Tim has worked in Fargo since 1980, and Kathy works as an RN at Sanford. They enjoy time with family and friends hunting, fishing, golfing, gardening, lake time, waterskiing, four-wheeling, and snowmobiling. They are avid Bison fans.

    Active State Task Force Service

    • ND Trauma Committee

    • Governor’s Council of Emergency Medical Services

    • Advanced Life Support Task Force

    • North Dakota American College of Surgeons

    • Metro Flood Task Force

    • Lake Agassiz Water Authority Board

    • FM Economic Development

    • Mayor’s Blue-Ribbon Commission on Addiction

    • Community Development Commission

    • Police Liaison

    • Economic Development Commission for Fargo

    • Sustainability and Resiliency Committee

    • Finance Committee

    • Personnel Evaluation Committee

    • Public Works Projects Evaluation Committee

    • FM Diversion Finance Committee

    • Mayor’s Budget Committee

    Arlette Preston Arlette Preston

     

    Biography:

    Hometown: Farm near Portland, North Dakota

    Education:

    • Nursing Diploma, St. Luke’s School of Nursing, Fargo

    • Bachelor’s of Nursing, Minnesota State University, Moorhead

    • Master’s in Community Health Nursing, Texas Woman’s University, Dallas

    CAREER

    Arlette worked as a nurse for MeritCare (Sanford) Health Systems for 21 years before starting her own business, Home Instead Senior Care, which provides in-home, non-medical services for the elderly. She operated Home Instead Care for 16 years, employing 85 individuals and supporting hundreds of families.

    Having spent her entire adult life as a nurse, Arlette understands the importance of people caring for people. Arlette’s civic engagement is guided by her belief that healthy communities are achieved when all sectors – public, private, and nonprofit – work together, help each other, and inspire one another to reach their full potential.

    FARGO CITY COMMISSION

    Arlette was elected to the Fargo City Commission in 2020. She holds the Health Department and Planning and Development portfolios.

    Arlette also served on the City Commission from 1992 to 2000. During her tenure, she held the Planning and Development portfolio. The Commission implemented a Land Development Code. She also helped create the downtown master plan, a future land use master plan, and improved the process of neighborhood planning.

    COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT

    • Rotary Club Member

    • City of Fargo Arts & Culture Commission, Co-founder & former Board Member

    • Fargo Public Schools Board of Education, 2002-2006

    • Downtown Neighborhood Association, Co-founder & former Board Member

    • Neighborhood Association Coalition, former Board Member

    • African Soul American Heart, former Board Member

    FAMILY

    Arlette has lived in Fargo with her husband, Richard, for the past 45 years. Richard owned 7th Avenue Auto Salvage and recently sold it to their nephew. They have a daughter, Chelsea, who lives in Texas. Arlette and Richard reside in Fargo with their dogs, Foxy and Frieda.

    Shannon Roers Jones Shannon Roers Jones

     

    Biography:

    Raised in Fargo, Shannon grew up working in her family’s business where she learned the value of hard work, grit, and integrity. Those lessons proved invaluable as she earned her degrees in business and law. After college, Shannon returned to her hometown to raise her family and build her career as an accomplished real estate broker and general counsel for Roers Construction and Development.

    Shannon has led growing teams both in the private sector and as an active board member for several non-profit organizations. In 2016, Shannon was elected by her neighbors to represent Fargo in the legislature. There she has been a bipartisan champion for public safety, criminal justice reform, economic development, and quality of life.

    Shannon resides in south Fargo with her daughters Olivia, Kendall, and Kate.

  • Fargo City Commission Fargo City Commission

  • Fargo City Commission Candidate Forum - 5/4/22
  • Matuor Alier Matuor Alier

     

    Biography:

    Matuor Alier learned about leadership at a young age. As a teen in a refugee camp in Ethiopia, he took charge of many other Sudanese boys orphaned by civil war and was recognized for his ability to build community and promote peace. He brought his talents to the U.S., where he led the African Student Association at Penn State University. Now, in Fargo-Moorhead, he helps immigrants and refugees move from surviving to stability. He wants his community to recognize and value the voices and perspectives of all people, and to provide access to educational and economic opportunities that enable every resident to contribute to the life of the community. To become a leader who empowers others to lead, he will deepen his understanding of and connections to communities that have organized successfully for change. He will also pursue a graduate degree to deepen his leadership skills.

    Jennifer Benson Jennifer Benson

     

    View in-depth and detailed Q&A

    Biography:

    I am a Fargo native who will work hard for you! I am committed to results, integrity, and strength. I am passionate, I will stand strong, and I will be your advocate.  

    Growing up in Fargo, I graduated from Fargo North High, and earned my bachelor’s degree from MSUM in Moorhead, MN. I began my career in pharmaceuticals over 20 years ago. My responsibilities included mental health awareness, education, continuity of care services, promotion of injectable medications, and billing and reimbursement education. I also serve on the Fargo School Board.

    My husband and I both work in the healthcare industry, and one of our daughters serves in the military. 

    I am inspired by those with courage, those willing to take a different approach, and those willing to choose activity over inactivity. 

    I’m a leader, I listen, I am connected to our community, I bring an all-embracing community perspective. I am a hard worker, I am passionate and take action to get things done. 

    Strong communities are anchored in a spirit of collaboration. With my board experience and mental health background I have a unique set of experiences and skills to connect various segments of our community to discover shared objectives and work together towards finding innovative yet attainable solutions. 

    Relationships and initiatives can and should reach beyond city limits and I feel I can help facilitate this.

    Al Carlson Al Carlson

     

    View in-depth and detailed Q&A

    Biography:

    A life-long North Dakotan, Carlson believes as a proven leader in government, his experience and understanding of the process will help him be an outstanding Fargo City Commissioner, representing all the citizens of Fargo.

    A citizen, homeowner, teacher and local businessman, Carlson has called Fargo his home for more than 50 years. An NDSU graduate who became a Junior High School (Agassiz) teacher, he and his wife Sharon have owned and operated Carlson Construction since 1980. Their company has built more than 400 homes, condominiums and commercial projects over the years. Their three adult children were born and raised in Fargo.

    Carlson’s government service includes representing Fargo in the North Dakota House of Representatives for 26 years, the last 10 years as the Majority Leader. As an experienced leader, Carlson is credited with successfully spearheading efforts to secure hundreds of millions of dollars in funding for many major projects that have greatly benefited Fargo.

    He believes Fargo is a great city in which to live, work and raise a family. Having been very involved in helping Fargo grow over the years, he is pleased that he now has the time to dedicate himself to being an active, involved Fargo City Commissioner.

    Philip Deery Philip Deery

     

    Biography coming soon.

    Anna Johnson Anna Johnson

     

    Biography:

    Anna Johnson is an enrolled member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians. Johnson has previously served for three years on the City of Fargo's Native American Commission.

    "I believe in serving Fargo's diverse community of working-class families," Johnson said. "If I'm lucky enough to earn a spot on the City Commission, I'll continue to do that work for the residents of the city."

    Increasing the city's engagement with the diverse communities in Fargo is her priority. She believes representation matters and wants to be a voice for all community members.

    Johnson proclaims, “Art can change the world.”

    An established working artist, Johnson's artistic vision parallels her work with the community. In both, she works to bridge gaps and build relationships between cultures and perspectives through storytelling, humanizing, and empathy.

    As a member of the Two-Spirit community, Johnson is no stranger to discrimination or racism and is moved to make a difference about social injustice, religion and spirituality, and other issues that Native Americans, women, and people everywhere face on a daily basis.

    Johnson currently works as the Program Coordinator for The Indigenous Association, is a tandem truck driver for Aggregate Industries, and is the Board Chair of the nonprofit, The Human Family.

    Johnson has lived in Fargo for fifteen years and received her BFA from NDSU in 2010.

    “As a lifelong resident of North Dakota, I’m committed to making my community stronger.”

    Victoria Johnson Victoria Johnson

     

    Biography:

    My name is Victoria Johnson. I'm a Family Advocate and the founder of a non-profit organization that helps provide support services to families and children.

     I'm originally from Uganda, but I call Fargo my home. I graduated from Fargo South High. I attended Minnesota State University and Minnesota State Community and Technical College. My children were born in Fargo. I have a background in Business Management, Sale and Marketing, Healthcare and Leadership. I spent my first two years after college working in field marketing for local company, but my passion to serve people and the elderly led me back into healthcare. I have worked in the healthcare field for over 10 years.

    Denise Kolpack Denise Kolpack

     

    View in-depth and details Q&A

    Biography:

    While my parents were originally from this area, I was half of a pair of identical twins born on Norton Airforce Base in California after my dad enlisted and served in Vietnam and the Philippines.  After the Airforce, both parents worked for the San Bernardino California Sheriff’s department before we headed back to North Dakota where my Dad became the Chief of Police for Northwood. This history gives me a great appreciation for all service families.

    Our family then moved to East Grand Forks, Minnesota where my Dad opened a gas and service station with his brothers and that is where I graduated high school. I am a University of North Dakota graduate in Communications and Public Relations. Upon graduation, I moved to Bismarck to work for the North Dakota Newspaper Association, later returning as their executive director after other jobs at a newspaper, an ad agency, and also as the first executive director of the North Dakota Water Coalition. 

    It was my job with United Blood Services that moved me to Fargo where I have lived for the past 20 years. For the last 15 years, I served as vice president of brand and marketing communications for Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota. Now, I am a recent retiree making it possible for me to run for public office for the first time in my career, a passion finally realized.

    My family are all proud Fargo South Bruin graduates. My husband, Dave Kolpack, works for the Associated Press and is in the Fargo South Hall of Fame. My son, Andrew, and daughter-in-law, Siri, returned here after college at UND to set down roots in West Fargo.

    Branden Krieger Branden Krieger

     

    The city of Fargo is the hidden gem of the Midwest. It has floated above the great recession and the housing bubble, while providing 10+ years of city and economical growth. The Chamber has no doubt been a part of that process.

     As stated on The Chamber’s website, “The Chamber is a catalyst for growth and prosperity. We protect and promote business, inspire innovation, cultivate communities, and influence action.” When the City of Fargo has a partner with an organization like The Chamber, the networking capability to offer resources, host events, and promote businesses becomes that much more efficient.

    My platform is simple, infrastructure, communication, and vision.

    The vision aspect, I believe, The Chamber can assist with. I am a strong advocate for continued Fargo development, as well as expansive South Fargo business development aimed at families in the area. With a 50-year expansion limit, with levy protection, Fargo has an advantage to sculpt the most efficient business/resident metropolis in the region. It starts with creativity, communication, and businesses looking to make a difference for the betterment of all of us. I am an advocate for smart city incentives holding businesses accountable to maintain an excellent growing economy. Fargo needs to be vigilant that developers/companies are meeting expectations. We hold the purse for our residents, and it is our mandate to make sure we spend it wisely. 

    Biography:

    My name is Branden Krieger and I am running for City Commissioner. I am a teacher at Discovery Middle School and I love going to teach students who need extra support to succeed and reach their goals. I graduated high school from Bismarck Century in 2009, then continued my education at NDSU receiving a Bachelor of Science degree with a major in Political Science and a minor in Criminal Justice in 2013. In 2019, I completed my education and graduated from the University of Mary with my master's in Education.

    I have quite the young, but big family. I have an amazingly talented wife whose currently working her way through medical school, and four daughters which have shaped me into the man I am today. I am so fortunate to have them in my life and for giving me the strength to be who I am, and the perseverance to be where I am today. Our day to day can be hectic, but I wouldn’t want my life any other way.

    In my free time during the summer I enjoy fencing, hikes, walks and running with my family in the F-M area (especially by the river). I also enjoy long road trips and traveling with my family. I love to immerse myself in history books of all time periods (favorite timeframe would be the Civil War). I am a lifelong Tampa Bay Buccaneers fan, while also being a loyal Carson Wentz/Trey Lance/Easton Stick fan. I am also a huge MCU fan, and my favorite superhero is Captain America. I love watching shows like Doctor Who and anything Star Wars/Marvel related on Disney+.

    T.G. Tom Magin T.G. Tom Magin

    Biography coming soon.

    Ves Marinov Ves Marinov

     

    Biography coming soon.

    Dave Piepkorn Dave Piepkorn

     

    Biography coming soon.

    Jodi Plecity Jodi Plecity

     

    Biography:

    Entrepreneur and businesswoman Jodi Plecity built four successful businesses: Intense LLC, Intense Trucking LLC, Intense Collision Center Inc and Lakemode Liquors, through mental fortitude, keen business strategy, and never-back-down work ethic. In the process, 

    Jodi went through a complete life change – losing over 150lbs through diet and exercise, “finally understanding what it was like to be healthier and pain-free”, there she found the desire and motivation in helping others achieve the same success that she did.  Jodi’s education experience includes graduating from Valley City High School in Valley City, ND while continuing her education in Oak Harbor, WA. She was also employed in many different types of working environments, including the SBA processing small business loans, PepsiAmercas in Human Resource Management and Integreon as a Project Lead, a leading global provider of legal outsourcing services.   

    Jodi also enjoys spending time with her nephew, volunteering, helping those in need, attending inspirational learning events and connecting with the positive change-makers. Her personal activities include, cooking healthy for friends and family, powerlifting, reading, music, travel, learning martial arts and just relaxing on a beach somewhere soaking up the sun or anything that makes her a healthier person.  In the Spring of 2019, Jodi sold Lakemode Liquors, Headquarters in Osgood to Coburns while still maintaining ownership of her West Fargo location. With this sale, she reallocated her resources towards research into starting her one non-profit foundation. In the Fall of 2020, she sold her other location as well.  

    Currently, Jodi is working on developing Peoples Rising Academy to bring health and happiness to those who have suffered through physical medicine, nutrition, and rehabilitation.  She is also the Co-Founder of the Garden of Healing, being built by the Scheels Arena to bring a safe, community space in nature for a walk of reflection and healing.  Also, most recently she is running for a seat on the City of Fargo Commission this June and just got nominated for the YWCAs Women of the Year.

    Ahmed Shiil Ahmed Shiil

     

    Biography:

    My name is Ahmed Shiil and I’m excited to announce my candidacy for Fargo City Commission. As a business owner and community advocate, I’ve seen and worked on many challenges that have impacted our community, all intensified by our global pandemic. In these difficult times, we need leadership who can work together to serve the people, and I have a skillset that I’m ready to put to work for the city of Fargo.

    I have a strong track record in helping people get to work, and connecting them to community resources. Through my nonprofit work, I was able to help initiate services that helped employ hundreds of residents. As a co-owner of a travel nursing agency, and as a Senior Community Impact Manager at a large local nonprofit, I know all about getting resources to people who need them, whether it is filling the gaps in healthcare shortage or finding the right resources for many to gain career opportunities. I’m proud of the work I’ve done, and I’m ready to get to work for the residents of Fargo.

    Will Thompson Will Thompson

     

    View in-depth and detailed Q&A

    Biography:

    Will Thompson is a 5th generation North Dakotan born in Minnewaukan on Aug. 2nd 1997, the son of Vern and Cindy Thompson. At the time, Vern was a North Dakota State Senator in District 12 and Cindy was a Special Agent for the North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation. In 2001, they moved to Bismarck where Vern served as the Executive Director of the North Dakota Dem-NPL. Then in 2005, they moved to Fargo, the place Will would stay until he graduated from Fargo Davies High School in 2016.

    While at Davies High School, Will became involved with Theatre and Student Council. By his senior year, he would be chosen to serve as the President of the Student Council, the Student Body, and of the Theatre Department. During his Junior year, Will began to struggle with mental health, and sought professional help on Feb. 23rd, 2015, after failing to execute an attempt on his own life (Will gives credit to his Freshman and Sophomore year English Teacher, Ms. Seelig, and her teaching of the book Tears of a Tiger for saving his life that day). Will would subsequently be diagnosed with Chronic Major Depression. By his senior year, Will would become a vocal advocate for Mental Health awareness.

    After graduating, Will went off to college at the University of Minnesota - Twin Cities. While at college, he would join the Beta Theta Pi (ΒΘΠ) Fraternity. Will also worked two jobs throughout his time in college. From Aug. 2016 - May 2020, Will worked for the University doing Digital Production and Color Commentary for Gopher Digital Productions and the University's sports department. From Mar. 2017 - Present Will worked at Boulger Funeral Home as a Funeral Assistant. In the summer of 2017, Will and a childhood friend moved out to Los Angeles and tried to get their feet in the door in the Entertainment Industry. Will did background acting throughout the summer, appearing in shows like Brooklyn 99, American Crime Story (while in Miami), and Goliath.

    During his Junior year of college, Will again began to experience trouble with his mental health, this time in the form of drug addiction. Will would seek professional help on Feb. 27, 2019. After spending time getting help as both in-patient and outpatient, and after completing a rehab program, Will returned to the life he had put on pause. This experience, coupled with his previous personal experiences with mental health, have fostered a strong sense of duty in Will to raise awareness for Mental Health problems and to fight the stigma against Mental Health. One of the ways he has done this is by putting on an annual Alumni Improv Show with fellow Davies High School Theatre alumni, with proceeds going to the North Dakota Chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI).

    Will graduated from the U of M - Twin Cities in 2020 with a Bachelor of Individualized Studies in Studies in Cinema and Media Culture, Creative Writing, and Theatre Arts. With a post-secondary education complete, Will has moved back to his native Fargo, and has decided to make a commitment to getting civically involved. He ran for the State House in 2020 unsuccessfully, but now wants to focus on his hometown instead of his home state. After attending City Commission meetings for most of 2021, Will decided to to make a run at the the commission himself, after noticing a lack of a large amount of community engagement in the local government.

    Lenny Tweeden Lenny Tweeden

     

    Biography coming soon.

  • Fargo School Board Fargo School Board

  • Melissa Burkland Melissa Burkland

     

    If elected, what are your top three priorities and what relation do they have to business?

    1. Retaining our teachers; 2. Attracting and recruiting teachers; 3. Ensuring FPS is a welcoming, safe, empowering, validating, and accepting environment for every type of student and learner. Each of these priorities will enhance our school district and enhance the learning environment for every type of learner, which will enhance our business community by creating a stable school system, making college-ready students who may want to stay in the community, and producing workforce-ready students who want to enter the workforce. 

    Why are you running for this elected position?

    I love the Fargo Public Schools and I want to be an advocate for teachers, students, and all in the Fargo Public Schools community. I passionately believe that public education is the most important and transformative investment we can make in a community and that it should be as strong as possible and should not have public resources diverted from it. We are at a critical time in education where teachers are not feeling supported and are leaving the profession. I want teachers to feel supported and validated – teachers who stay to enhance our children's learning and make our schools stronger. 

    What do you believe to be the biggest issue the school district faces? If elected to the board, in what ways would you work to address it?

    Teacher retention and lifting teacher morale. When our teachers are doing well and are supported and staying, this positively affects our entire Fargo Public Schools community, and it positively affects students the most. I will ensure that teachers feel heard and validated, both through competitive salaries and competitive terms, and to make this happen I will work with the appropriate government stakeholders to get as much public funding going towards Fargo Public Schools as possible. Recruiting future educators will also be a part of this priority. 

    What experiences have prepared you for this elected position?

    Attending and graduating from Fargo Public Schools and being raised by a Fargo Public Schools educator provide my passion for doing this; being a public servant for the Fargo Public Schools is an honor I would take very seriously. My work as an attorney has honed my decision making and analytical skills, as well as my communication, negotiation, and advocacy skills. I am a natural collaborator and great listener who will be transparent and accountable to everyone in the Fargo Public Schools community. I deeply understand public service and being a good steward of taxpayers’ money

    ​Biography:

    I graduated from Fargo South High, the University of Nebraska, and the University of North Dakota School of Law. I worked as a federal law clerk in the Eastern District of Wisconsin for the Honorable J.P. Stadtmueller, practiced law at the Milwaukee-based law firm Michael Best, worked at the University of Wisconsin Law School, and I currently serve as an Assistant United States Attorney. My parents are Darrell Burkland and the late Nancy Burkland, former Fargo Public Schools principal, I’m married to pediatrician Dr. Grant Syverson, and mother to two children in the Fargo Public Schools.

    Katie Christensen Katie Christensen

     

    If elected, what are your top three priorities and what relation do they have to business?

    My priorities are teacher retention, student wellbeing, and parental involvement. Our district is the fourth largest employer in the region. These employees live in our community, shop at our businesses, and oftentimes have family who work and play here too. When teacher retention suffers, so does our community. Furthermore, recent reports show increases in student sadness and hopelessness. Considering that today’s students are tomorrow’s workforce, we need Board members that prioritize access to services that address these needs. By creating a robust and healthy school system that prepares students for the future, our businesses and community will benefit. 

    Why are you running for this elected position?

    I believe that every child deserves the best education possible. Our schools give youth the opportunity to learn different perspectives, develop critical thinking skills, and eventually become engaged citizens. I’m concerned with the recent contentious nature of school board meetings and the polarization of public education. I worry about censorship, public-school funding being diverted to other entities, and assigning tasks to our teachers that have no connection to student achievement. I seek a seat on this Board to protect our schools and ensure that every child has access to the best education possible

    What do you believe to be the biggest issue the school district faces? If elected to the board, in what ways would you work to address it?

    At the moment, I see recovering from the pandemic as our biggest challenge. The 2021 Youth Risk Behavior Survey for North Dakota shows students are experiencing increases in feelings of sadness and difficulty concentrating while also feeling more disconnected from parents at home and adults in the school building. Furthermore, these student outcomes are likely contributing to the pressures that teachers feel every day. If we can find ways to alleviate student mental health concerns, we’ll have a positive impact on our students and teachers.

    What experiences have prepared you for this elected position?

    I am a former teacher. I know what it’s like to try to create the best possible learning experiences for youth while balancing other demands. If elected, I’ll aim to protect teacher autonomy and workload in my decision-making. Next, I am a youth development professional. With a master’s degree in human development, I rely on data and evidence to ensure that my decision-making is rooted in best practices and student outcomes. And finally, as the parent of two kids in the district, I’m connected to other parents, teachers, and students through my own children’s experiences and activities. 

    ​Biography:

    I’m a non-profit state leader and mother of two children in the Fargo Public Schools. My educational background includes a bachelor’s degree in education and a master’s degree in human development. I spent six years teaching middle school and high school Spanish before staying home with my kids. In 2012, I joined Planned Parenthood North Central States as an educator with a focus on positive youth development, parent-child connectedness and providing much needed education to vulnerable youth. If elected, I’ll contribute the voice of a former teacher, current parent, and advocate for healthy youth development to the Board. 

    Greg Clark Greg Clark

     

    If elected, what are your top three priorities and what relation do they have to business?

    A productive, reliable, and educated workforce is built on a foundation of high-quality public schools. As such, my top priorities all serve to protect and support our schools. First, we need to act quickly to recruit more educators, and retain those we still have. Second, we need to ensure all students are provided an equitable environment where they are able to learn. Third, we need to work with state and local leaders to ensure our schools have the resources necessary to prepare our young people for life after graduation.

    Why are you running for this elected position?

    Fargo Public Schools are experiencing a bit of a low point right now. Morale is low, retention is bad, the achievement is low, and student mental health is in crisis. At a time when we need leadership the most, our School Board has instead been a source of further frustration and controversy. I’m worried some of my opponents are focused on non-issues that will continue the trend of distracting from what’s really important. I’m running for the Fargo School Board because our community deserves supported teachers, prepared students, and a responsive School Board. 

    What do you believe to be the biggest issue the school district faces? If elected to the board, in what ways would you work to address it?

    Educator recruitment and retention is the biggest issue right now, and we’re approaching a breaking point. A 2022 survey of North Dakota teachers found only 5% feel appreciated. A 2022 national survey found that 55% of educators say they’re considering early retirement or just plain leaving the profession. Extreme burnout is only possible when educators feel unsupported and are denied the resources necessary to succeed in their work. I have so many ideas on how to address teacher recruitment and retention, they won’t fit in the 100 words I’m allotted here. Visit https://www.greg4fargo.com/qanda for more details! 

    What experiences have prepared you for this elected position?

    First of all, I spent two years studying education policy to earn my Master’s Degree in Political Science from Syracuse University. School boards are responsible for so much more than what makes newspaper headlines, and I have a deep knowledge of these complex tasks facing our schools. Additionally, I have nearly a decade of experience working in finance and data analytics. I’m great with numbers, navigating complex situations, and balancing competing priorities among stakeholders. I’ve also been lovingly described as “annoyingly diplomatic.” And if there’s one thing the Fargo School Board needs, it’s a levelheaded listener. 

    ​Biography:

    My name is Greg Clark and I’m a data analyst and a teacher’s husband. I’ve lived in the Fargo-Moorhead area nearly my entire adult life. I spent two years studying education policy to earn my Master’s Degree in Political Science from Syracuse University. My wife has been an educator in the F-M area for 10 years. Together we’ve experienced the ups and downs educators face every day. We’re all impacted by the quality of education our young people receive. It’s a community effort, which is why I’m running for the Fargo School Board. 

    Nyamal Dei Nyamal Dei

     

    What is your vision for the Fargo School Board?

    Empowering all students to reach their highest potential through innovative, engaging, and personalized learning experiences.

    Why are you running for this elected position?

    My motivation to run for school board stems from her love of education, advocacy for mental health and her dedication to share the voices of all community members, including those members not yet represented. Mental health initiatives are even more important right now due to factors related to the pandemic. As the mother of a child who attends school within the district, I have noticed that these issues need to be better addressed within our schools. In addition, I believe that my diverse voice will bring a new perspective to the table. I will strive to share the voices of community members, whose voices are often not heard, to help create positive outcomes for all.

    What do you believe to be the biggest issues the school district faces?

    There are few biggest challenges that I see for K-12 education in Fargo: Achievement gaps, support for educators, addressing mental health concerns, and bringing more attention to inclusion and diversity and sustainable funding, safety in the classrooms and equitable learning environments.

    Is there a particular issue that motivates you to serve in this elected position?

    I will center my campaign around several core issues that need attention: family engagement, support for educators, addressing mental health concerns, and bringing more attention to inclusion and diversity. Our schools are more diverse now than ever before, and will continue to become more diverse. The school board should reflect and support the diversity of its students, and work to strengthen representation for all within our community.

    ​Biography:

    Nyamal Dei was born in Ulang, South Sudan, and was separated from her family and forced to flee her home. She trekked hundreds of miles from Sudan to Ethiopia. Then from Ethiopia to a refugee camp in North-Western Kenya called IFO, thousands of Sudanese refugees escaped from war-torn Sudan.

    Today, Nyamal lives in Fargo, North Dakota where she is the founder of Kondial Kel International: South Sudan READS. In honor of her mother who did everything to help her family survive, Kondial Kel, which means "Together" has a "mission to improve lives through education and community-related activities, programs, and learning centers. We engage, empower, build, develop and connect locally and globally."

    She studied at North Dakota State University and holds a Bachelor of Science in Health Education in Community Health with a minor in Child Development & Family Science. She has a Master’s in public health at Benedictine University.

    Nyamal was invited to participate in a dialogue in Washington, DC at the U.S. Peace Institute to discuss combating hate speech related to the violent conflict in South Sudan. She participated in leadership development with the NEW Leadership Development Institute at MSUM, the North Dakota Women Network, the North Dakota Farmer Union, and the Change Network. She has served as a former humanitarian deputy for the Alliance for South Sudanese in Diaspora (ASSD), was a former school board candidate, a member of the United Nations Association, and a board member for the North Dakota Human Rights Coalition.

    Nyamal believes her passion, perseverance, cultural competency, and multilingual abilities have always been assets to anything she puts her mind to. She loves to be involved in the South Sudanese community and other communities around her. She focuses on helping underprivileged families and orphans and is working to build a much-needed learning center in South Sudan and Gambella, Ethiopia for children who do not have access to books and education.

    Katie Kelsh Katie Kelsh

     

    What is your vision for the Fargo School Board?

    Ensuring the best education (public or private) and opportunity for all of our children. Motivated, respected teachers, making sure they feel like they are given a strong advocate in me.

    Why are you running for this elected position?

    I want to make sure our cities continue to grow and encourage people to call Fargo, home. A strong community and excellent public schools are important for the recruitment of new people to the area.

    What do you believe to be the biggest issue the school district faces?

    Keeping and recruiting quality educators.
     

    ​Biography:

    I am the parent of two school-aged children of whom attend FPS. I have lived in Fargo for almost 20 years. I am a strong advocate for our community and want to see it continue to thrive. I have been a Realtor for 6 years. Prior to that I was involved in an agricultural company.

    Rebecca Knutson Rebecca Knutson

     

    What is your vision for the Fargo School Board?

    Students at Fargo Public Schools will experience an educational environment that is open, welcoming, and representative of all who enter its doors. Students, teachers, staff, parents, and community members will be able to point to lived-out examples of how their ideas and concerns are treated with importance. Citizens, lawmakers and partnering organizations will support the increasing demands on the Fargo School District in a manner that exemplifies pride.

    Why are you running for this elected position?

    I ran for my first term on the Board in 2014 and won. At the time, I was concerned about boundaries, neighborhood schools and ensuring the District’s existing schools were maintained. Those were important reasons to run, and I have had an opportunity to work to address those concerns during my Board service. Since being reelected in 2018, now having the opportunity to have eight years of service, two years being elected by my peers as Board president, I look at the position and role of a Board member with the value of experience. I believe the education of our children through the public education system is critical to our community and society and there seems to be an effort to undermine its value, which is extremely risky. I will always be a fierce defender of public education. The Board needs steady, sensible leadership to develop the outcomes-focused education system we all want and can be proud of and I have the experience necessary to move critical initiatives forward with a balanced approach.

    What do you believe to be the biggest issues facing the school district?

    In short, balancing the needs of a growing school district while being fiscally responsible.

    At the highest level, funding, because everything our public education system is called to provide, either by state or federal requirements, or expectations of the Fargo community, has a dollar figure attached to it. The income to the Fargo School District and the expenditures is virtually a wash. Roughly 80% of our funding comes from the state legislature, and our human capital (staff, teachers, employment benefits) is about 80% of our expenditures. Mandates that get passed at the state and federal level that go unfunded/are underfunded end up being the responsibility of the school district to cover financially. It is essential that we close the gap on unfunded/underfunded mandates. Tough budget decisions are going to need to be made by the Board. To operate without a deficit, community members can expect to hear the Board talk about increased class sizes, program cuts and staffing changes as possible solutions. I am not an advocate for any of these “solutions,” but I do think the discussion will need to happen and it will be an unpopular one. I support legislation to increase funding for public schools and will continue to work to make sure students, teachers and staff of the Fargo School District are equipped with the resources necessary to excel. The Board will also need to have discussions around the mill levy and what type of an investment it will be asking the community to support.

     

    ​Biography:

    Rebecca Knutson, first elected to the Fargo Board of Education in 2014 and reelected in 2018, has led the Fargo Board of Education as its president, through an unprecedented and challenging time. Knutson voted for the District’s Covid-19 Smart Restart Plan, a decision that kept our students, teachers, and staff safe and our schools open. She supported the District’s efforts to make sure students received free meals and every student had a tablet or laptop and Internet access

    Under Knutson’s leadership, the Board hired the District’s current superintendent, the alternative high school received a new name—Dakota High School, the Explorer Academy opened, and the 2021-23 teacher contract was agreed upon and signed. Knutson has balanced the needs of a growing school district and supported small class sizes while being fiscally responsible. Knutson welcomes input from constituents and is committed to furthering the Board’s public engagement process

    Knutson supports legislation to increase funding for public schools and will continue to work to make sure students, teachers and staff of the Fargo School District are equipped with the resources necessary to excel.

    During her tenure on the Board, Knutson has served on four of the Board’s five standing committees—governance; government relations; communications, engagement & advocacy; and negotiations—and has been honored to represent the Board to the City of Fargo through appointments to the Native American Commission and Core Neighborhoods Master Plan Steering Committee. Knutson has twice been elected by her peers to serve as president, and twice as vice president.


    Knutson is a North Dakota State University graduate and developed a career in the advertising and communication field, working at the Minneapolis location of BBDO Worldwide, and in Fargo at the G.L. Ness Agency, North Dakota State University and Great Plains Software, later establishing Rebecca Knutson Consulting. A resident of Fargo for 30 years, Knutson is the mother of three children, all educated in the Fargo Public Schools, two as current students and one as a graduate. Rebecca enjoys being active in the community, spending time with family, friends, and the family pets.

    Robin Nelson Robin Nelson

     

    If elected, what are your top three priorities and what relation do they have to business?

    Student success, educator recruitment and retention, and offering well-rounded student opportunities that prepare them to bring value to the greater community and workforce. The FPS District is often touted by realtors and employers for its quality, and I want to continue to work to maintain that proud tradition for Fargo. A strong public-school system attracts businesses and employees with families, and helps prepare future adults to contribute positively to society. 

    Why are you running for this elected position?

    I have dedicated every aspect of my life to help prepare youth for a successful future, and hope to continue to do so for another four years as a school board member. I have been the CEO of our local Boys & Girls Clubs for the last decade, so serving as a board member is a natural extension of my passion to help youth succeed. During my time on the board, I have worked tirelessly to ensure well-rounded opportunities for all students, continuously collaborated with educators, and fought to limit class sizes to achieve better outcomes for all. 

    What do you believe to be the biggest issue the school district faces? If elected to the board, in what ways would you work to address it?

    The upcoming North Dakota legislative session will be pivotal for public education and calls for someone who has strong working relationships with legislators from both sides of the aisle, has a solid grasp of legislative history and procedures, and is committed to work diligently for students. Fargo needs someone to work on a reasonable and sustainable funding formula, and to retain local control. I am uniquely qualified to fulfill that role as I have served as the Chair of the Governmental Affairs Committee for several sessions, and I am wholeheartedly committed to do so. 

    What experiences have prepared you for this elected position?

    I previously served three terms as board president, and currently serve as vice-president. I have served on all standing committees and chaired Governmental Affairs, Governance and Communications committees. I have a strong history of collaborating to achieve success and results. I advocate for youth and education at the local, state and federal levels both as a board member and in my career. I am Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s ND Ambassador, ND United States Afterschool Ambassador, and my organization was named one of the top-performing Boys & Girls Clubs in the nation. 

    ​Biography:

    Nelson was previously elected to four school board terms, and currently serves as the board’s vice-president and chair of the Governmental Affairs Committee. She also serves on the ND School Board Association Governmental Affairs Committee and was awarded ND’s Master School Board Member with Distinction designation. Robin serves as the chair for Fargo Police Department’s Badges of Unity board, on the Fargo Cass Public Health board, on the FMWF Chamber of Commerce Public Policy Committee, was named Kiwanis 2021 Community Champion for Kids and is a member of the Boys & Girls Clubs of America regional Hall of Fame. 

    Brian Nelson Brian Nelson

     

    If elected, what are your top three priorities and what relation do they have to business?

    I believe we will be needing to replace an alternative school and to expand our career and technology education. Second, we need to find time outside of direct instruction to support our teachers. Finally, we need to get mental health for our teachers and students. 

    Why are you running for this elected position?

    I am running for this position because I want to be re-elected and make decisions that affect teachers and students. I have spent the last four years learning about the Fargo Public Schools and now I am ready to be a better board member knowing the resources we have in our district. 

    What do you believe to be the biggest issue the school district faces? If elected to the board, in what ways would you work to address it?

    I feel hiring staff is going to be our biggest challenge. This staff is both certified and non-certified positions. The administration team has been working on ideas to help with this issue of staffing. I think we should be looking at hiring more international teachers and working with our universities more to find staff. 

    What experiences have prepared you for this elected position?

    I have 34 years of public school experience. The last 26 years I was a school superintendent. Finally, the position I am running for is a position I have held for the last four years. I am dependable, honest, and transparent. I am a good listener and will vote based on the majority. 

    ​Biography:

    My name is Brian Nelson. I have a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education and minors in physical and drivers education at Minot State University. I also have a Master of Science degree in Educational Administration from Northern State University. I have 34 years of public school experience with 26 years of superintendent experience. I have a CDL license and have coached many different teams. I am married and have 10 kids and we also have 9 grandchildren with three more on the way. 

    Allie Ollenburger Allie Ollenburger

     

    If elected, what are your top three priorities and what relation do they have to business?

    Support for our educators, accountability, and strategic vision for Fargo Public Schools. See website for more information. 

    Why are you running for this elected position?

    I want to be a part of the solution, I want to work with all key stakeholders to bring back quality education to Fargo Public Schools. 

    What do you believe to be the biggest issue the school district faces? If elected to the board, in what ways would you work to address it?

    Budget and how the limited budget is used. I will first start by looking at all areas where we can cut out unused spending, like the Canvas app. I will then ensure that all funds that are spent are used to deliver on the improvement plan for education in our schools. We have had 5 years of decline in all areas. I will then work with the FEA and ND United to ensure proper support from the state legislation for education. 

    What experiences have prepared you for this elected position?

    I am a global business leader, military veteran and a mom. I am involved in this community and have been my whole life. I know how to work with multiple stakeholders, make hard decisions and deliver results. I believe that every voice is an important part of the process and that parents, educators and community members that work together bring the best results for our education system and our children’s future. 

    ​Biography:

    David Paulson David Paulson

     

    What is your vision for the Fargo School Board?

    A utopian vision? better paid teachers, smaller class sizes and everyone entering and leaving the schools with smiles on their faces. I want the school years to be the best and most rewarding times of our kids and my grandkids lives.

    Why are you running for this elected position?

    I previously mentioned my grandchildren; I had the benefit of great schools and fantastic teachers and I want to help insure the same is available to them. My goal is and will always be to make Fargo Public Schools the best district in the state and nation. That will require superior teachers who are well compensated and respected for the tremendously important job they do every day. That goal carries with it a mandate to listen to the parents and all the patrons of the district and ensure that their voices are heard by other Board members and the administration. As board members, we answer to the public.

    What do you believe to be the biggest issue the school district faces? If elected to the board, in what ways would you work to address it?

    Funding will always be the toughest nut to crack. Public schools are expensive and where that money comes from is always an issue. State and federal revenue account for only about 70% of that bill, the rest is placed solidly on the backs of our taxpayers. There is usually no dispute about overpaying a bill we feel is justified and if the patrons believe their tax money is well spent by the school district, we will work things out. Recently, we have seen the importance of addressing the emotional well-being of our students and that has placed another layer of responsibility on our teachers and health professionals within the schools. This is one of the areas where we need to do a better job of listening to the parents.

     

    ​Biography:

    I graduated with majors in Biology and Chemistry from Valley City State University. In addition, I have approximately 80 graduate credits in science related courses and educational leadership. I considered becoming an administrator but decided I could be of greater benefit to my students as a classroom teacher. During my career, I taught all the sciences from seventh grade Life Science to Physics. I retired after 35 years in the classroom. Following my retirement, I took a job with a local sporting goods retailer as my passion has always been the outdoors. I intend to begin working less because I now have an additional passion, spending time with my ten grandchildren. We enjoy fishing, hunting, camping, bonfires and smores! My wife, Deanna and our six kids are scattered across the Fargo and West Fargo school districts.

    Alexis Scott Alexis Scott

     

    If elected, what are your top three priorities and what relation do they have to business?

    My focus is on amplifying staff and family voices, closing achievement gaps for all students with an additional focus on multicultural students, & leveraging community partnerships and strong leadership to put our resources and dollars back into the classroom. 

    Why are you running for this elected position?

    I have become increasingly concerned over multiple areas of the FPS system. Proficiency rates in both Math & Reading have declined over the last 5 years, and we have seen our greatest attrition rate ever with our staff. I am concerned our educational integrity will continue to decline with toxic leadership practices and want to rebuild our strategic plan to include measurables and accountability. By leveraging more community partnerships we can put resources back into the classroom to alleviate the burn-out and exhaustion our staff are experiencing from the never ending demands of their role. 

    What do you believe to be the biggest issue the school district faces? If elected to the board, in what ways would you work to address it?

    My biggest concern is the ability to continue to navigate the operational crisis due to staffing issues. Not only do we not have enough subs, we are not gaining enough teachers YOY to provide the fill classrooms. This is a multifaceted issue through lack of teachers coming out of universities and low retention rates in Fargo for teachers with 5 years or less of experience. We not only need to provide resources and support here to fill positions, but we must also focus on retaining top talent to provide a competitive edge and desirable community for residents. 

    What experiences have prepared you for this elected position?

    I have a very diverse personal and professional background. Currently, I focus on developing organizations, leaders and people through quality leadership, business and DE&I training with Dale Carnegie. Formerly, I worked as a bilingual case manager for families and mental health, both have serious barriers and fantastic resources within FPS through collaborative relationship building. I have committed personally and professionally to support growth and leadership and am a proud graduate of the 2021 35 Under 35 program and a leadership member of FMWF Professional’s of Color. I embrace relationship building and connecting with families in the community. 

    ​Biography:

    I am a mother, wife and multicultural community member in Fargo, North Dakota. I am an invested and committed stakeholder in Fargo Public education and raising 4 sons. Professionally, I am a Workforce Development Consultant and former bilingual mental health and family case manager. I am part of leadership for the FMWF Chamber’s Professionals of Color and a 2021 graduate of 35 Under 35. I am a strategic focused, results driven, solution based candidate who wants to ensure that all students in FPS have a quality education experience. 

    Kristen Sharbono Kristen Sharbono

     

    If elected, what are your top three priorities and what relation do they have to business?

    The number one priority needs to be supporting our teachers and providing a safe learning environment for everyone. I am a huge advocate of peer-to-peer programs which would provide support to teachers, decrease behavioral issues, and enhance student experiences. Secondly transparency from the school district in all areas. This includes following open meeting laws and the curriculum being posted on the FPS website. The third priority is parental and community involvement. 

    Why are you running for this elected position? 

    I disagree with some of the decisions that the board has been making and I want to be a part of the solution. It is something that I have been thinking about for several years. The first time I spoke at a board meeting was in 2018. I am passionate about our teachers having the support and resources that they need to ensure the safety (physical and mental) of all students. I work best when collaborating with others and have many ideas to share.

    What do you believe to be the biggest issue the school district faces? If elected to the board, in what ways would you work to address it?

    Division. The focus needs to be on the education of students in our district. I have the skills to be able to collaborate and keep the focus on the mission statement of the district to "achieve excellence by educating and empowering all students to exceed". By keeping the focus on the common goal we are able to recognize our individual experiences and beliefs are actually an asset instead of an obstacle to helping students reach their highest potential.

    What experiences have prepared you for this elected position?

    Mental health is a concern that has been stated by many. I am an LPCC (licensed professional clinical counselor); this is the highest level of licensure in the state. Being an effective counselor requires excellent communication skills. Specifically working with people who are disagreeing and finding the common goal to achieve outcomes that are beneficial to all. I have a vast knowledge of the challenges that our youth are facing. While I do have a lot of knowledge and experience, my ability to listen to the concerns of others and work together to find solutions is my best asset.

    Biography:

    I am a mom and licensed mental health professional. Our family has benefitted from many programs and resources at FPS including early childhood special education, gifted and talented services, IEP (Individual Education Plans), and 504 plans, and a variety of extra-curricular activities. I have work experience in FPS including being a substitute paraprofessional and coordinating services while being an in-home family therapist. I have experience advocating for mental health services across the state including working with legislatures. I am excited to use my personal and professional experience to assist all stakeholders in having the best possible experience at FPS. 

    Deven Styncynski Deven Styncynski

     

    If elected, what are your top three priorities and what relation do they have to business?

    My top three priorities are curriculum transparency and reform, budget restructuring, and enforcement of House Concurrent Resolution 3049. Transparency and reform are to better help parents and teachers work collaboratively to improve decreasing academic achievement rates. Budget restructuring is to ensure taxpayers and teachers have maximum use out of the available budget as to not waste tax dollars and make sure staff is adequately compensated to brace for the coming recession. HCR 3049 states parents are the primary stakeholders for their children’s future. It is imperative that parents have input for our future community leaders. 

    Why are you running for this elected position?

    I am running for Fargo School Board to help ensure a better future for my daughter. The current academic attainment percentages have me very concerned as a parent and some things clearly require a change. The schools are bleeding good teachers because they don’t feel listened to or appreciated and that does not help my daughter as she continues to grow. I’ve also noticed that there are no negotiations or implementation of new ideas. Continuing with more of the same will result in further degradation of the FPS and that hurts students the most. 

    What do you believe to be the biggest issue the school district faces? If elected to the board, in what ways would you work to address it?

    Currently, the district is at a crossroads. The options are more of the same which leads to more teachers and parents feeling ignored by the board and administration and further decreases in academic attainment due to a lack of focus on student success. Or we could try a different way of thinking with a focus on transparency and collaboration between teachers and parents, holding the administration accountable, and making sure we do what matters most in helping our kids succeed. A sterner approach is not a bad thing when it comes to student success. 

    What experiences have prepared you for this elected position?

    My experiences cover a vast amount of territory. I understand meetings, bylaws, and decorum from my time in the NDSU staff senate as well as my time in the FFA in which I achieved their highest award, the FFA American Degree. I do quality control for pharmaceuticals so I am used to doing work with a significant amount of weight to it with no margin of error. Growing up a farmer, long days and difficult work do not bother me because work worth doing is not a chore or just a job

    ​Biography:

    I’m a working dad from north Fargo with one child in Fargo Public Schools. As a quality control specialist, I have a keen eye for making certain tasks are performed to the highest degree of quality. With my farming background, I do not shy away from the difficult work that needs to be done and will not stop until it is done. As a family man, it is of the utmost importance to me that the Fargo School Board builds a future in which my child can thrive

    Lyn Telford Lyn Telford

     

    If elected, what are your top three priorities and what relation do they have to business?

    My top three priorities are ensuring that the academic, social and emotional needs are met for all students and staff; retaining and recruiting skilled educators and support staff; and ensuring a long-range plan that is interconnected to city planning. These priorities ultimately tie back to the tenet that strong schools make strong communities and great places for businesses to flourish. The end result is a robust economy and a healthier community.

    Why are you running for this elected position?

    My decision to run for school board is founded by my deep desire to serve my community and my quest to better understand the intersection between the administration, the school board, and the staff, and how it affects our students. My vision is simple – I will work to ensure that the students and staff are at the center of every decision we make. If elected, I will hold myself, the administration, fellow board members, and other stakeholders accountable while maintaining respect and collaboration. I am committed to being a reasonable and civil voice for our teachers and students. 

    What do you believe to be the biggest issue the school district faces? If elected to the board, in what ways would you work to address it?

    I believe the biggest issue facing our school district is appropriate resources for meeting the social and emotional needs of students. This isn’t unique to FPS, but I believe with such a supportive and engaged community, our district could become a leader in strategies to meet those needs. I strongly believe that meeting the social and emotional needs of all students results in better learning for everyone in the classroom, resulting in more consistent student achievement and sets every student up for success as they leave secondary education. 

    What experiences have prepared you for this elected position?

    Serving my community is a priority of mine. I have served on the Fargo Cass Public Health Board of Health since 2018 and currently act as the Vice Chair. This experience has given me invaluable insight into the role of a board member and how to balance community needs and constituent values. My engagement and service to my children’s PTA has helped me understand the current school environment. Lastly, as a nurse and healthcare quality professional, I am skilled in policy oversight, regulatory affairs, and improvement principles, skills which would complement the work of the school board. 

    Biography:

     

  • Fargo Park Board Fargo Park Board

  • Vicki Dawson Vicki Dawson

     

    If elected, what are your top three priorities and what relation do they have to business?

    If re-elected to a second term on the Fargo Park Board, I will:

    • Continue to provide affordable and accessible opportunities for everyone in our community. All ages, capabilities and interests deserve to be served.
    • Make the maintenance and enhancement of existing parks while adding new parks, facilities, and opportunities accessible to all a priority. Everyone deserves to have a park within walking distance of home.  We have done that and will continue to do that in the future.   
    • Continue to represent the entire community and be an advocate for all residents of Fargo. I will continue to solicit community input. 

    Why are you running for this elected position?

    It is important that we continue what’s been accomplished during my first term. It is a crucial time in Fargo Park's history.  We have started the strategic plan process for the Fargo Park District. We are developing long-range plans for our parks including Island Park, Lindenwood Park, Yunker Farm and Trollwood Park. This enables our parks to remain vibrant and thriving into the future.

    Fargo Parks provides youth, adult, and adaptive programs, as well as community events. My family’s quality of life is enhanced by Fargo Parks, and I want to ensure that young and old are afforded the same opportunities. 

    What do you believe to be the biggest issue the district faces? If elected, how would you work to address it?

    The ongoing maintenance and enhancement of existing parks while adding new parks, facilities, and opportunities accessible to all is our biggest need.  Fargo’s continued growth demands that we continue to develop new neighborhood parks connected to our every expanding walking and bike paths.  Staying on top of what we have and offering new opportunities helps us be top notch.

    If re-elected, I will continue my active work for the good of the entire community. I wil listen to the wants and needs of the community.  We are actively seeking public input and it is crucial that we continue those efforts.    

    What experiences have prepared you for this elected position? 

    For more than 20 years my family has participated in Fargo Parks. We have raised our family in Fargo Parks. I am familiar with our parks, ice rinks, courts, fitness center, golf courses, trails, and pools.  We have participated in softball, learn-to-skate, t-ball, sports sampler, the Fall Festival, Santa’s Village, golf and tennis lessons, and archery all provided by Fargo Parks. I know and love Fargo Parks.  

    Serving on the Fargo Park Board since 2018 has given me a vast knowledge of the park district. My other board experience provides leadership skills for responsibly making decisions for the park district. 

    Biography:

    Vicki is the current Fargo Park Board President, elected in 2018.  She and her husband Steve live with two sons, Ben and Nick, near Lindenwood Park.  Their three adult stepsons, Charlie, Matt and Joey are also raising their families here.        

    She believes community involvement is important and is passionate about providing opportunities to youth.  She has volunteered as a Babe Ruth, t-ball, and soccer coach, a Boy Scout Leader, and a confirmation teacher.       

    She has served as the president of the Clara Barton Hawthorne PTA, the Northern Region Association of Safety Professionals and Fargo Youth Hockey Association.   

    Jacquline Dotzenrod Jacquline Dotzenrod

     

    What is your vision for the Fargo Park Board?

    In 2020, the park board budget was $17 million. This year, the projected budget has grown to $22.4 million. Approximately $6 million of that projection is coming from special assessments.

    While I support a vibrant and well-funded park system, I cannot support a budget increase of $5.4 million in such a short amount of time. I certainly cannot support placing a financial burden of that magnitude on the citizens of Fargo. There are funding resources available to Fargo Parks that have not been fully explored and tapped into. As a professional grant writer, I am happy to bring my skills to the Fargo Park Board in order to help mitigate some of these expenses. We also have an incredibly generous business community - which is proven by how much money has been donated to build the Fargo Sports Complex. Tens of millions of dollars have been given in support of this project. Surely, there are businesses and leaders in Fargo who would happily sponsor playground equipment, programming, and pathways - if only we ask.

    My vision for the Fargo Park District is a park system that values teamwork, wellness, and inclusion. These are three values I hold dear and are values I will represent as a member of the Fargo Park Board. We are capable of building a system that serves the diverse needs of our community without placing a financial burden on households that are already struggling to make ends meet.

    Why are you running for this elected position?

    In 2013, I sustained a brain injury that left me disabled. The trauma of surviving this injury still reverberates through my life today. I am very lucky to have the professional support of a good care team that includes a physical therapist, a reflexologist, speech therapy, a psychologist, and a social worker. While they all have been critical components of my recovery, my physical therapist has been a key proponent in my healing journey. In addition to teaching me new stretches and exercises, she encourages me to go for regular walks to promote better balance, stamina, and general fitness. As a patient at her clinic, I was given access to their gym and equipment. Sometimes I would take advantage of this perk and walk on the treadmill. However, I struggled to keep myself motivated this way. I discovered that going for a walk in a beautiful outdoor park is a much better way for me to reach my goals for recovery. Fargo Parks has played an integral role in my recovery and it would be an honor to play a role in helping make sure our parks remain beautiful, accessible, and safe for everyone.

    What do you believe to be the biggest issue the district faces?

    The biggest need for Fargo Parks is the same as our community at large. "Diversity" and "inclusion" are more than mere buzzwords - they are becoming a part of the very fabric of Fargo. With the recent hire of Dr. Terry Hogan as Director of Diversity for Fargo Police, the rise of groups like OneFargo, and new Americans coming to make their home in this city - it is more important than ever that we consider the needs and wants of these diverse groups of people. We truly are better together and have so much to learn from one another.

    Is there a particular issue that motivates you to serve on the Fargo Park Board?

    The number one issue that keeps me up at night is accessibility in our parks.

    Currently, we only have one single piece of playground equipment that is accessible to children with disabilities. This oversight puts children with disabilities, their families, and their friends at a disadvantage. While some private accessible playgrounds do exist in our community, we owe it to children of all abilities to provide equipment that allows them to play with one another. We must foster the value of inclusion in our community parks. I cannot think of a better place to start than at the playground where children of diverse backgrounds gather, grow, and learn together.

    Biography:

    I have been interested in running for the park board since I moved back to Fargo in 2012. Ten years is enough time for contemplation and it is time for me to take the leap into running for election!

    A native of rural North Dakota, I grew up on a farm just five miles outside of a small town. Like many small town North Dakotans, I made the move to Fargo and now call it my home. I am a graduate of North Dakota State College of Science. I also attended North Dakota State University where I studied Computer Science, Business Management, and Music Education.

    Spending time outdoors has been important to me throughout my childhood and on into adult life. I enjoy camping, fishing, kayaking, and long hikes along beautiful trails. A well-managed park system is a critical part of any vibrant community and it would be my honor to play a part in helping keep Fargo Parks as vibrant and vivacious as ever.

    Some of my goals in running for park board include establishing wireless internet service in select parks, installing more accessible playground equipment for children with disabilities, and establishing at least one additional skate park in our community. As a person with disabilities myself, I am a fierce advocate for all minorities and want to encourage everyone in our community to get outside and get active!

    Joe Duetsch Joe Duetsch

     

    If elected, what are your top three priorities and what relation do they have to business?

    My top three priorities if elected would be the completion and operation of the Fargo Sports Complex, making sure we get the Island Park Master Plan project done the way the citizens support, and continuing to be fiscally responsible while making sure the parks and recreational opportunities stay in front of the growth. 

    Why are you running for this elected position?

    I am running for the board for the same reason I have served for the past 16 years, to ensure equal and equitable recreational opportunities for all people young and old, throughout our great community. The footprint of the Fargo Park District has tripled in my time serving and it is important to make sure that we continue to ensure these values are maintained as we grow. I am also running for one more term in an effort to follow through with major projects we have been working hard to bring to fruition. 

    What do you believe to be the biggest issue the district faces? If elected to the board, in what ways would you work to address it?

    While I don’t see it as an “issue”, Fargo has grown threefold in my 16 years on the board and it is important to stay in front of the growth and work together as a team to ensure success. As commissioners, I feel it is our duty to oversee the experienced staff and represent the vision, mission, and policies of the citizens that own the district. My hope is that the various backgrounds of each commissioner can bring value and expertise to the district while allowing our staff the respect and freedom to grow the district into the future. 

    What experiences have prepared you for this elected position?

    Aside from my recreational education/experience background, I have spent 16 years on the board and have been afforded the opportunity to be a part of several budget cycles and budget approvals. We continue to receive a clean audit every year and the park district does an amazing job of planning for the future and looking to pre-fund the projects. That said, we need to continue to be fiscally responsible and remember that we are working with taxpayer dollars and need to make every dollar count. 

    Biography:

    I was born and raised in Fargo and have spent most of my adult life here. Originally teaching Physical Education at Madison Elementary, I have spent the last 17 years preparing teachers and recreation specialists at NDSU, 16 of which I have served on the Fargo Park Board. Raising my three boys, with my wife, has afforded us the opportunity to utilize the park system throughout. Whether it is riding our bikes along the bike/walking trail system, golfing as a family, or coaching my son's flag football/baseball teams, the Fargo Parks have always been a big part of our lives. 

    Jim Frueh Jim Frueh

     

    If elected, what are your top three priorities and what relation do they have to business?

    I would bring forth a 5-to-10-year facilities master plan. This written plan would identify all the Park District assets and determine a life expectancy with a replacement cycle strategy. Businesses would benefit by having park district amenities maintained and working as designed. Visitors, as well as residents of Fargo will be attracted and enthused about using equipment, parking lots, walking/biking paths, pools, golf courses, etc. that are in excellent condition. 

    Work towards preparing a budget that will provide for repairs and proper timely maintenance of existing equipment. Local businesses will have the opportunity to provide goods and services to get this accomplished. 

    Being transparent with the public on planning future projects would be a priority of mine. Public engagements to hear stakeholders’ feedback, whether positive or negative, would assure that patrons are being heard and their ideas are being considered. Patrons who feel valued will naturally use our amenities; thus, enhancing business. For example, if Island Park improvements are made wisely, restaurants, bars, and other shops offering services will likely get increased traffic. 

    Why are you running for this elected position?

    I have a strong skill set in planning and the development of projects, as well as working collaboratively with other people and organizations. My employment as the Operations Director at Fargo Public Schools allowed me to work closely with the Fargo Park District. I liked what I saw, and I believe the Fargo Park District would benefit from my experiences. I have extensive operations experience and am excited about transferring that knowledge to the governance side of the Park District. 

    What do you believe to be the biggest issue the district faces? If elected to the board, in what ways would you work to address it?

    I believe that staffing is a significant issue for the Fargo Park District. Not only for seasonal employees but also for day to day and administrative positions. In working with the Park District for the past 14 years I have a sense that they are short staffed, and realignment or additions may be necessary. I would like to delve into this issue to see if it is correct. I would work closely with the Human Resources Department to make certain they have all the resources that are needed to confirm or deny this issue. 

    What experiences have prepared you for this elected position?

    I have 45 years of operational experience in grounds, maintenance, hvac, pools, planning, construction etc. I was responsible for very large budgets, managing 150 people, and collaborating with school officials and public entities like the City of Fargo, Fargo Park District, Fargo Police, Fargo Fire Department and other state and local officials. I was president of the Rugby School board. I served in leadership roles in the Rugby Fire and Ambulance Service. I have also served my church on leadership boards as elder and youth advisor. I was honored to serve as the Municipal Judge for the City of Rugby. 

    Biography:

    I was raised in Goodrich ND. I graduated from North Dakota State College of Science. My wife Jean and I have 3 grown children and 8 grandchildren all living in the greater Fargo area. I came to Fargo in 2006 from Rugby ND. where I was the Director of Plant Operations & Safety for the Heart of America Medical Center. I was employed there for 28 years. In 2006 I was hired by Fargo Public School to be the Director of Maintenance & Operations. I retired from FPS in 2020 and started a part-time consulting business, Jim’s Building Services, LLC. 

    Aaron Michael Hill Aaron Michael Hill

     

    What is your vision for the Fargo Park Board?

    To move Fargo Parks forward, to help people with differing perspectives find a common purpose and work together for the greater good of Fargo. We need to keep building relationships and seeking new partnerships. We need to make sure we are working for the good of ALL citizens of Fargo. We need to make sure we strategically utilize existing infrastructure and improve the quality of life for Fargo residents.

    Why are you running for this elected position?

    I want to take a bigger role in serving Fargo and I think the Park Board is a great place for me to have an immediate positive impact. I worked for the park district summer youth baseball/softball program at Lindenwood Park for seven seasons and was an active basketball referee for over ten years. I have a lot of experience with sports and recreation programs, as well as large scale community events and camping activities.

    What do you believe to be the biggest issue the district faces?

    I think the biggest need is finding ways to hear all voices in Fargo. We need to do a better job proactively seeking input and community partnerships from everyone, not just a select few. That includes finding opportunities to better serve our core (downtown) and north Fargo residents.

    Is there a particular issue that motivates you to serve on the Fargo Park Board?

    I think the Parks are doing well and I can help make them better. I maintain a wide variety of relationships in the community and have the skills to bring people together. With my entrepreneurial background, I can help move the "enterprise" portion of Fargo Parks forward to operate more effectively and better serve the residents of Fargo.

    Biography:

    Hill was born in Minot, ND and later moved to Fargo. He graduated from Shanley High School, received a B.A. in Political Science from St. John’s University (Collegeville, MN), and an M.S. in Strategic Leadership from University of Mary (Bismarck, ND). He is a co-founder of Fargo Brewing Company and currently serves as Sales Manager.

    Hill worked for the Fargo Park District summer youth baseball/softball program at Lindenwood Park for seven seasons and was an active basketball referee for over ten years. He served as Chair of the Fargo-Moorhead Young Professionals Network and a Restorative Justice Volunteer from 2010 to 2011. He served as the North Dakota Young Professionals Network Chair from 2011 to 2012. Hill was honored as a Prairie Business Magazine 40 Under 40 nominee and founded the F-M Alumni Chapter for St. John’s University in 2012. He served on the Human Relations Commission for the City of Fargo from 2013 to 2015. Hill was a Public Relations Ambassador for The Chamber from 2018 to 2021 and volunteered on the Fargo Core Neighborhoods Plan Sub-Area Steering Committee.

    Hill joined the St. John’s University Alumni Board in 2021, recently joined the Board of Directors for the YMCA of Cass and Clay Counties, and is an active volunteer for the Fargo Theatre. Hill lives with his wife, Brianne, and three young children (ages 9, 6 & 4) in North Fargo and is active in coaching youth sports.


  •  

  • WEST FARGO

  • West Fargo Mayoral West Fargo Mayoral

  • Bernie Dardis Bernie Dardis

     

    Biography:

    Bernie Dardis has been a businessman locally since 1976 and expanded businesses across portions of North Dakota and Minnesota since the early 90s. As the companies grew and expanded, his responsibilities increased, which resulted in his appointment as CEO in 2004. During his career, Bernie was also active in business, civic service, and political organizations and activities.

    Some of his cherished activities include serving as council president in his church for 10 years, serving on the executive committee of the West Fargo Exchange Club for 10 years, coaching in FM athletics for 16 years, serving on the FMWF Chamber Board for 7 years inclusive of Board Chair, serving as ND Republican National Committeeman with roles in the finance and budget committees as well as numerous years of service in the local and statewide party, and serving as a trustee on the NDSU Alumni Foundation.

    Dardis has been recognized with the NDSU Lifetime Achievement Award through the Masters of Success program, North Dakota Liberty Bell Award from the ND Bar Association for his years chair of the ND Judicial Nominating Committee, Book of Golden Deeds Award from the West Fargo Exchange Club and the Good Scout Award from the Boy Scouts of America.

    Commission President Dardis was elected to office in 2018 where he oversees the finance and administration portfolios. He also serves on the Greater Fargo-Moorhead Flood Diversion Board of Authority and chairs the Finance Committee, and is a member of the Salvation Army Board of Directors and was a 2021 Salvation Army Campaign Chairman. Additionally, Dardis sits on the Fueling our Future Governance Board, City of West Fargo’s Review Committee and West Fargo Events Board of Directors.

  • West Fargo City Commission West Fargo City Commission

  • Roben Anderson Roben Anderson

     

    Why are you running for West Fargo City Commission?

    I have a passion to serve the residents of West Fargo and want to help improve things and help make the city better for future generations.

    What are your top priorities?

    Giving a voice to the residents and increasing resident engagement and input. Right-sizing city government (address waste and ensure department funding is at adequate levels). Increase transparency and put needs before wants.

    What about your background do you believe qualifies you to serve?

    I've been on the Special Assessment Commission for 3-4 years which has given me experience in how the city handles things, in addition to learning about the other processes that lead up to the special assessment process.

    What do you view as our community's greatest strengths or opportunities?

    We have a great community feel. While we're a growing city, it still feels like a smaller community. Many generations of families live in the city which helps with that and strengthens the community.

    What do you view as our community's greatest weakness?

    High taxes and reliance on special assessments.

    Biography: 

    Roben has a passion to serve the residents of West Fargo. He got involved when he noticed a breakdown in communication between the city and the residents in the neighborhood he lives in. Roben also got involved with the Special Assessment Commission to learn about specials and to see what could be done with them. He worked with a State Representative from his legislative district on a bill that was intended to increase communication and transparency within the special assessment process. The bill passed unanimously through the House and Senate and was signed into law by the Governor. Roben has identified some areas for improvement and wants to work on those areas to help make West Fargo a better place to live for his two daughters and future generations.

    Roben currently works at Doosan Bobcat and is a Business Intelligence Analyst. He’s been with Doosan Bobcat for over four years, previously working there as a Finance Analyst. Roben has held analyst positions in several areas, such as the CPG industry and with a company that works with employee engagement and business incentives. Roben enjoys digging into the numbers and looking for ways to improve things. He’s committed to right sizing the city government, increasing transparency, and bringing the voice of the residents to the commission and city by working to increase resident engagement and input.

    Roben has been a resident of West Fargo for 7 years and lives with his wife, and twin 9-year-old daughters.

    Brad Olson Brad Olson

     

    Why are you running for West Fargo City Commission?

    Since 1983, I have been involved in some form of government, either as an employee of USDA, a City Commissioner for Bowbells and now West Fargo, so serving the public has been instilled in me for more than 39 years. When I see the passion our city employees have regarding the work they do for the residents of West Fargo, I want to be part of that passion and pride in serving our residents.

    What are your top priorities?

    To build our economic base. By bringing more commercial businesses to West Fargo, the burden placed on residential property owners will be lessened.

    To complete the decommissioning of the wastewater lagoons. When this project is completed, there will be more land to develop, and the monies received from the sale of this land can and should be used for infrastructure projects throughout our city, which will translate in lower special assessments.

    To complete the redevelopment of the northern end of Sheyenne Street. This project slowed down after a developer backed out of a project, however the City Commission has been informed another developer has expressed interest in redeveloping a portion of this vital area of the city.

    To bring our Fire and Police Departments up to the level of employees needed for our growing city. The new fire hall will centralize the department and provide an opportunity to increase the number of fire fighters, which will raise our insurance rating, resulting in lower property insurance costs for all residents. By increasing our police force, it will put more patrol officers on the streets in this ever-growing community.

    What about your background do you believe qualifies you to serve?

    I am a current member of the West Fargo City Commission with a working knowledge of how our city works and functions. My portfolio includes the Street, Water and Sewer Departments, plus I am a member of the Cass County Planning and Zoning Commission, Metro COG, MAT Bus Coordinating Board and the West Fargo EDAC. Currently, I am the Vice President of the West Fargo City Commission.

    What do you view as our community's greatest strengths or opportunities?

    Community minded residents. Even with the unprecedented growth of West Fargo, the residents have been able to keep that small town, close-knit feel to the community. Our school system is second to none, and that helps build pride in our community. West Fargo has been the "City on the Grow" for many years and while still growing, we have now become the place to be, whether it's our school system, new industries or entertainment options, people want to live and play here.

    What do you view as our community's greatest weakness?

    We are located in the shadow of a larger city and some outsiders think West Fargo is a neighborhood of Fargo. We need to tell the story of West Fargo, build on its past and create a new future, all while emerging from our bigger neighbor's shadow.

    While the city was expanding residential neighborhoods south of Interstate 94, the commercial growth was not at the same pace. More businesses will result in increased sales tax, which is used to fund capital improvement projects, thus decreasing the amount of special assessments.

    Furthermore, in an effort to keep property taxes from increasing while expanding to the south, the Police and Fire Departments did not grow at the same rate as the rest of the city and now the city is trying to bring those departments up to the number of sworn officers and certified fire fighters that is needed by all citizens that live and work or play in our community.

    Biography:

    I've been married for nearly 40 years and have two grown children and one grandchild. I retired from USDA's Farm Service Agency in 2019 after serving more than 36 years. My career with USDA began in 1983 in Jamestown, ND. In 1989, it took me to Bowbells, ND and in 2006, it brought me to West Fargo. I administered federal farm programs which brought financial assistance to farmers and ranchers throughout the state of ND. I served on several state and national task forces and provided training to other FSA employees. While in Bowbells, I was a member of the City Commission for 12 years, served on the church council, member of the Lions Club, volunteer fireman, plus a member and past president of the Bowbells Country Club. I have been a West Fargo City Commissioner since 2018 and my portfolio includes Streets, Water and Sewer. Along with those duties, I have been assigned to the Cass County Planning and Zoning Commission, Metro COG (Executive and Policy Boards), MAT Bus Coordinating Board and the West Fargo Economic Development Advisory Committee (EDAC). I have been the Vice President of the West Fargo City Commission since 2020. I was also a member of the initial West Fargo Public Schools Parent Advisory Committee for the high school STEM program in 2012 - 2013.

  • West Fargo School Board West Fargo School Board

  • Cole Davidson Cole Davidson

     

    What is your vision for the West Fargo School Board?

    I envision a school system free of distractions where the focus is on core educational foundations of reading, writing, math, science and preparation to thrive in the world. I envision a school system that engages parents and encourages collaboration with educators. WFPS will be the district of choice for teachers seeking employment and the gold standard for teacher recognition and retention.

    Why are you running for this elected position?

    I am troubled by some of the things I see happening in our local school system and around the nation. Standardized testing showed that kids fell behind during the pandemic when schools relied heavily on distance learning, yet WFPS chose to continue this practice and even integrate planned distance learning days into the school calendar. Students often spend only 45 minutes or less on an electronic device and we chalk it up to a full day of school. Mask mandates were kept in place much longer than necessary and well after most of the community stopped wearing them. Finally, I want to keep controversial ideologies and politics out of the school system. I’ve stood by and witnessed decisions being made that I not only disagreed with, but decisions that I judge to be harmful to the learning environment. As a father, I feel a responsibility to no longer be a bystander and to ensure that parents voices are empowered in the West Fargo Public Schools system.

    What do you believe to be the biggest issue the district faces?

    Managing the growth of the school system in an environment of political and social division and staffing shortages. Making up the educational ground lost during the pandemic is also a challenge.

    Is there a particular issue that motivates you to serve on the West Fargo School Board?

    There are many. I want to eliminate virtual learning days. Almost every parent I talk to agrees that virtual learning days are ineffective. Staffing shortages/teacher retention, growth of the school system, transparency in decision making, parent engagement, student disciplinary policies, violence against teachers, are all issues that motivate me.

    Biography:

    I am first a husband and father. I've been married to my beautiful, talented, smart and funny wife, Karinne Davidson, for almost 16 years. We have three children in the West Fargo Public Schools (WFPS) system, ages 14, 10 and 7. Being the best husband and father I can be is my number one priority in life. I was born and raised on a ranch in Western North Dakota where I learned the value of hard work and looking out for one's neighbor. I attended college at North Dakota State University where I earned a bachelor's degree and a Master's of Business Administration.

    Jon Erickson Jon Erickson

     

    What is your vision for the West Fargo School Board?

    We are all here for the same reason - to educate our students about what their world will become and none of us are sure what exactly that is. My vision is to define the district of choice - by empowering students, teachers, and all other staff - to teach each other, share ideas, and push the status quo. In turn building character traits such as resiliency, flexibility, and determination, while maintaining a healthy life balance.

    Why are you running for this elected position?

    Over these last two years, we have learned a lot and I want to continue working to develop our policies that empower the districts administration to build a cohesive environment. This will then directly correlate to creating the best experience for our students.

    What do you believe to be the biggest issue the district faces?

    Full engagement from all parties involved in the education ecosystem. We need to create communities in each school, to enable everyone from the students to the teachers, and the rest of the team to be the best they can be.

    Is there a particular issue that motivates you to serve on the West Fargo School Board?

    I believe in the new Strategic Plan - the task force of parents, students, teachers, administrators, and board members, created a plan to encompass the whole education system. It takes everyone in the village to particpate to have success.

    Biography:

    My name is Jon Erickson and I am a Director on the West Fargo School Board. As part of the board I am on a number of board committees, such as Planning and Development, Negotiations, and Strategic Planning. I am also the liaison to Aurora Elementary, Freedom Elementary, Liberty Middle School, and Sheyenne High School.

    I have lived in Fargo/West Fargo for 21 years, and since 2005 in West Fargo. I first ran for School Board in 2014 and was fortunate enough to be elected for my first term. In 2018, I ran again and was elected for a second term. For my profession, I have worked for Wells Fargo for 28 years and am currently a Change Management Consultant. I am a U of M Duluth graduate with a Bachelors of Applied Arts degree in Sports Management and a minor in Business Administration. Finally, I live in the Eagle Run division with my wife of 21 years and two daughters, both attend Sheyenne High School. In my spare time, I enjoy the outdoors - camping, ATVing, and hunting.

    Jessica Jackson Jessica Jackson

     

    If elected, what are your top three priorities and what relation do they have to business?

    My top three priorities include managing growth, ensuring we are preparing today’s students for tomorrow’s world, and facilitating both voice and choice for our learners. It is vital that we collaborate with our business community to prepare our students vocationally regarding the greater economic systems in which they will participate. 

    Why are you running for this elected position?

    I believe all children deserve the opportunity for a strong educational foundation so they can find their passion and launch forward successfully as contributing members of society. 

    What do you believe to be the biggest issue the district faces? If elected to the board, in what ways would you work to address it? 

    West Fargo Public Schools continues to experience unprecedented growth and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. One of the biggest challenges with managing this growth is ensuring we remain fiscally responsible, innovative, and maintain equity among our school facilities. This requires significant planning and foresight, and I will work closely with the district to ensure we achieve our objectives. This includes reviewing projections, visiting our facilities first-hand, and speaking with teachers, staff, parents, and stakeholders to ensure we collaborate effectively as a community. 

    What experiences have prepared you for this elected position?

    I am a West Fargo Public Schools alumni, I attended higher education in our community, and my children also attend school in West Fargo. I have not only witnessed but also experienced the growth of our district as a student and parent. I served on PTO as a Member, Treasurer, and President, and I was also a member of West Fargo Voice. During my current term, I have served on the Governance Committee as Chair, Community Relations and Advocacy Committee as Chair, Return to Learn Advisory Committee, Academies Task Force, and I’ve participated in various legislative discussions with local leaders. 

    Biography:

    My parents moved to West Fargo in 1979. I grew up by the old stockyards that used to be Riverside. I have a B.S. in Child and Family Studies from Concordia College and a M.S. in Human Development and Family Science from North Dakota State University. I originally went to graduate school for family therapy, but changed focus after I studied development, the financial life cycle, and family business. I work as a retirement business advisor. My family includes my husband Seth and our 5 kids including teenagers and a 2-year-old.

    Jim Jonas Jim Jonas

     

    If elected, what are your top three priorities and what relation do they have to business?

    Committed to providing the best possible learning environment and educational experience for our students and staff. North Dakota has no greater priority than supporting public education.

    Why are you running for this elected position?

    I am running for re-election to the West Fargo School Board because of my dedication and commitment to the students, teachers,and staff of West Fargo Public Schools. 

    What do you believe to be the biggest issue the district faces? If elected to the board, in what ways would you work to address it? 

    Teacher stress, burnout and low teacher morale. Low teacher morale directly interferes with the instructional quality and student engagement. The district needs to make a sustained investment in improving working conditions for teachers to bolster school and district effectiveness. Teachers need to be active participants in developing morale improvement strategies to ideate and refine solutions along with district leaders. 

    What experiences have prepared you for this elected position?

    Current President of West Fargo School Board and a 30 year career as a WFHS teacher and coach. 

    Biography:

    West Fargo School Board current President

    I currently sit on the following organizations Board of Directors: West Fargo Educational Foundation, West Fargo Exchange Club, West Fargo Events, Retired West Fargo High School Teacher and Coach.

    Jessica Jones Jessica Jones

     

    What is your vision for the West Fargo School Board?

    My vision includes our district reaching excellence by providing all students with the education and opportunities necessary to be ready to enter the workforce or seek further education with skills like good communication, empathy and resiliency.

    Why are you running for this elected position?

    I value recruiting and retaining teachers for West Fargo Public Schools. We have excellent teachers in this district, and retaining these experienced teachers and ensuring their voices are heard and appreciated is a top priority.

    What do you believe to be the biggest issue the district faces?

    Our most experienced and excellent teachers are burnt out and leaving the profession in droves, and recruiting and hiring practices can’t keep up. There are many unfilled positions in our schools daily causing access to services like reading support to be lost. There are also skyrocketing behavioral health concerns in adolescents. Last year, 7,000 youth in ND were diagnosed with depression, and over half of those kids were not able to get any help. Schools can be part of the solution to address this growing concern and improve access to help.

    Is there a particular issue that motivates you to serve on the West Fargo School Board?

    We are a district of excellence, but not yet for every student. I am motivated to ensure that our district policies prioritize helping each student achieve their unique excellence.

    Biography:

    I grew up in central North Dakota, with much of my childhood being spent in my mother’s second-grade classroom. All of our family made significant sacrifices for my mom’s role as an educator. I attended North Dakota State University and the University of Minnesota, studying Clinical Psychology. My husband, three kids and I have lived in West Fargo since 2014. I currently work with children, families and adults at Solutions Behavioral Healthcare Professionals. I also train new psychologists, helping to address the significant lack of behavioral health providers. I am a member of the North Dakota Women's Network and recently participated in West Fargo Public Schools’ Strategic Planning Taskforce.

    Scott Kasprick Scott Kasprick

     

    If elected, what are your top three priorities and what relation do they have to business?

    To attract and retain good quality staff. Help the school district with their large growth to maintain manageable class sizes and standards of education. Keep costs down to make sure voters continue to want to invest in our kid’s future, regardless of having kids in school or not in our community. 

    Why are you running for this elected position?

    I like to think through everything. With the diversity of our community and schools I would like to try to help our schools continue to be focused on what the community wants in our schools. 

    What do you believe to be the biggest issue the district faces? If elected to the board, in what ways would you work to address it? 

    In the last few years, I think the biggest issue that has come up is the difficulty to show the diversity of our community and how passionate each side of the argument is. I am not going to have all the answers, so the best I can do is to make sure I listen to all sides of the conversation to make sure I can help make sure all sides are heard. 

    What experiences have prepared you for this elected position?

    I have been in various leadership roles throughout my life with varying positions from 4-H to student government when I was in college. In my current job, my role is to find the root cause of a certain situation and resolve the situation. This will help me understand why exactly something is being looked at or needs to be looked to help resolve upcoming district needs. 

    Biography:

    I grew up in North Dakota, just a few hours north of West Fargo. I moved to West Fargo for a work opportunity and have been living here for the last 17 years. Currently I have two daughters in West Fargo Public Schools and like to pass the time trying to be outdoors and train in martial arts. 

    Mark Staples Mark Staples

     

    If elected, what are your top three priorities and what relation do they have to business?

    There are three major priorities for West Fargo Public Schools: recovering from a setback in learning related to the pandemic, providing an equitable opportunity for every student to succeed, and managing enrollment growth responsibly. These challenges have a direct effect on our students, families and educators, but the consequences ripple out into our community. If we want to address the workforce shortage facing businesses, we must first provide students with an education that prepares them to succeed in any chosen career path after graduation. West Fargo can address these challenges and provide our students with the opportunity to excel. 

    Why are you running for this elected position?

    A lot has changed in the 70 years since my grandma graduated from West Fargo High School, but one thing has remained constant: When every child receives an excellent education, our community thrives. My pride in West Fargo runs deep, and that fuels my passion to make our district a better place for every student. I’m running for the school board because I believe every student deserves access to an excellent public education. As a school board, we can improve educational outcomes for our students by responsibly investing taxpayers’ dollars and addressing the greatest challenges facing our district. 

    What do you believe to be the biggest issue the district faces? If elected to the board, in what ways would you work to address it? 

    When families choose to live in our community, they do so with the expectation that their children will receive a great public education. Demographic factors—like family income—should not be a barrier to success for any student walking into one of our schools. Today, academic outcomes in our district vary widely across socioeconomic status, race and other demographic indicators. It is the responsibility of the school board to knock down barriers and make targeted investments that provide educators with the support needed to give every student a fair opportunity to succeed. 

    What experiences have prepared you for this elected position?

    Good governance requires continuous input from stakeholders, and strong communication has been a focus of my career. Previously, I served as deputy communications director for Gov. Doug Burgum, facilitating engagement with North Dakotans. In my current role, I work with lawmakers and citizens to advocate for bipartisan policy solutions. As someone who experienced every level of public education in our school district, I bring a unique perspective to our board. Combined with my time already served on the school board, I feel confident in my ability to continue working for the students, families, educators and taxpayers in our district. 

    Biography:

    Mark Staples is an incumbent member of the West Fargo School Board, having been appointed to fill a vacancy on the board in August 2021. As a 2013 graduate of West Fargo High School, Staples has a lifelong passion for the school district and the greater West Fargo community. He works in external affairs for The Nature Conservancy of ND-SD-MN and previously served in the office of Gov. Doug Burgum. Staples holds a B.A. degree in economics from Harvard University. 

  • West Fargo Park Board West Fargo Park Board

  • Chris Heise Chris Heise

     

    What is your vision for the West Fargo Park Board?

    To be be able to contribute by improving the lifestyle of the community through a comprehensive system of parks and programs by offering great indoor and outdoor activities, programs, and classes for all ages. To be dedicated in providing quality recreational and leisure services at an affordable price to improve the quality of life for all residents of West Fargo. To be able to promote a healthy environment and enjoyable lifestyle for all citizens of West Fargo.

    Why are you running for this elected position? 

    The City of West Fargo is growing rapidly, and I would like to continue to have the ability to plan and prepare for opportunities and facilities for our citizens in these growing times. I would like to see our proactive approach to plan and provide a family orientated environment for our citizens to enjoy in our parks.

    What do you believe to be the biggest park-related need in West Fargo?

    We will need to continue to be persistent in planning by being fiscally responsible and continue to strive to work with other WF elected bodies to maximize our dollars.

    Is there a particular issue that motivates you to serve on the West Fargo Park Board? 

    To be able to contribute by improving the lifestyle of the community through a comprehensive system of parks and programs by offering great indoor and outdoor activities, programs, and classes for all ages. To be dedicated in providing quality recreational and leisure services at an affordable price to improve the quality of life for all residents of West Fargo. To be able to promote a healthy environment and enjoyable lifestyle for all citizens of West Fargo.

    Biography:

    I was born and raised in the West Fargo and Fargo-Moorhead community. My wife, Monica, and I are blessed with two children. Owner of the Chris Heise Agency, Inc. with American Family Insurance. Retired from the NDANG Happy Hooligans as a First Sergeant with the 119th Civil Engineer Squadron. Presently refereeing college and high school basketball. Involved in BSF, the West Fargo Exchange Club, West Fargo AMVETS, and on the Executive Board with the Red River Valley Fair. For hobbies, I love to golf, hunt & fish, and spend time with family and friends.

    Jake Lauritsen Jake Lauritsen

     

    What is your vision for the West Fargo Park Board?

    To make sure each resident of West Fargo feels seen and served by the Park District. Whether this is through upgrading old and worn-out park equipment, providing a place for folks to play pickleball or their favorite activity, offering a variety of programming from the arts, to music, to cooking, and hosting larger events for everyone from youth to senior citizens. Our taxpayers should be able to say they know where their hard-earned dollars are going within our community. The more variety we offer and efficiently communicate those opportunities to the citizens of West Fargo, the more we feel as though we are serving the entire community.

    Why are you running for this elected position? 

    As a lifelong resident of West Fargo, I’ve seen this city evolve, a lot. Over the years my family and I have had the privilege to use many of the facilities and participate in a variety of programs offered by the Park District. I see a city constantly on the grow, with new challenges as well as opportunities. The Park District has and will continue to play a huge role in how well our city provides for ALL residents.

    What do you believe to be the biggest park-related need in West Fargo?

    Continuing the development of partnerships within the community. This includes our relationships with the City of West Fargo, West Fargo Public Schools as well as businesses and organizations within the community. Sometimes this is easy and sometimes challenging as all entities have their own priorities. However, it is imperative we work together to better serve our residents and enhance the quality of life in our city.

    Is there a particular issue that motivates you to serve on the West Fargo Park Board? 

    With the growth of West Fargo, we have to find a balance between those who have lived here for decades and those who have more recently come to our community. Some want the small town feel while others are looking for amenities typically associated with a bigger city. I believe our duty is to listen to all people, gather what they feel is missing, what needs to be improved or what needs to go, and take action to improve the lives of all residents of West Fargo.

    Biography:

    Jake Lauritsen was born and raised in West Fargo. He's the proud father of Jason Jr. "JJ", Reagan and Larsen, and husband to Stephanie. He enjoys spending time with his family, coaching his son's baseball team, attending community events, and hunting with the family chocolate lab, Bruce. Jake has been a West Fargo Park District Commissioner since July of 2018. He has also been a member of the West Fargo Exchange Club since the early 2000s and has held several roles over the past 2 decades including Board Member, President and is co-chair of the club’s annual fundraising event, Fun Night. Jake attended Mayville State University where he played baseball and earned a degree in Business Administration. After finishing at the Mayville Baseball Academy, ahem, Mayville State University, he began working as a financial advisor. Steph joined him in 2006 and, along with Jake’s dad for some time, have built their business in West Fargo. Both are dedicated members of the West Fargo community. 

    Jeff McCracken Jeff McCracken

     

    If elected, what are your top three priorities and what relation do they have to business?

    1- Maintain existing park facilities

    2-Try and keep up with the growth of West Fargo

    3- Work with the residents of WF regarding their needs and wants within the park system, while spending taxpayer money wisely

    Why are you running for this elected position? 

    I am passionate about having an active community and having facilities for families and people of all ages to achieve this.

    What do you believe to be the biggest issue the district faces? If elected to the commission, in what ways would you work to address it? 

    The cost of taxes for each and every one. As a board member, I would be diligent about spending on park projects and the operation of the park as a whole. 

    What experiences have prepared you for this elected position? 

    The building and maintenance of facilities portion, go along with my contracting experience background. The funding and spending portion fit into my financial background. 

    Biography:

    I was born in Minot, ND on May 8 th 1965. I have lived in Minot, Carrington, Ashley and West Fargo ND. I have spent most of my life in West Fargo, graduating from WFHS in 1983. I have 3 grown daughters that also graduated from WFHS. I have been married to my wife Patty since 2018, and have 4 step children. I am an independent financial advisor and a HR and Compliance manager for JB Railroad Contracting Inc. We enjoy spending summers with family and friends at the lake. In the winter I am a high school basketball official and enjoy snowmobiling in the mountains of Montana. Also, I spend free time doing woodworking projects. 


  • CASS COUNTY

  • District 2 District 2

  • Tony Grindberg Tony Grindberg

     

    If elected, what are your top three priorities and what relation do they have to business?

    • Economic growth
    • Infrastructure Investment
    • Public Safety

    Why are you running for this elected position?

    I am running to bring my legislative and city commission experience along with my long standing community involvement to move Cass County forward during the next four years. Key priorities are to support economic growth, infrastructure investment and public safety. 

    What do you believe to be the biggest issue the county or district faces? If elected to the commission or board, in what ways would you work to address it?

    Investment in infrastructure and support for public safety are key issues. Inflation and workforce availability will impact these issues well into the future.

    Biography:

    Tony Grindberg has over 20 years of economic development experience with the Greater Fargo Moorhead Economic Development Corporation and the NDSU Research & Technology Park. Most recently he served as V/P for Workforce Affairs at North Dakota State College of Science, leading a successful public/private investment campaign to build the Career Workforce Academy. He joined Xcel Energy on December 1, 2020 as Principal Manager.

    Grindberg’s public service experience includes 26 years serving in the ND State Senate and Fargo City Commission focused on economic development, workforce and commitment to North Dakota’s future by supporting a pro-business climate, lower taxes, and common-sense solutions for government.

    Recognitions include, Legislator of the Year award, North Dakota Association for Career and Technical Education, National Federation of Independent Business Guardian of Small Business award, North Dakota State Chamber of Commerce Education Partnership award, Alumnus of the Year, North Dakota State College of Science and Alumnus of the year, West Fargo High School. Additionally, has served on the national and local boards for the General Aviation Manufacturers Association, the Association of University Research Parks, the FMWF Chamber of Commerce and the Economic Development Association for North Dakota.

    Grindberg, a native of Mapleton, ND has degrees in business and aviation from Minnesota State University Moorhead, North Dakota State College of Science and earned an economic development certificate from the University of Oklahoma. 

    Ben Hanson Ben Hanson

     

    If elected, what are your top three priorities and what relation do they have to business?

    • Permanent flood protection for our region. Flooding is still a major threat to our region. Businesses are not able to operate and property values are jeopardized whenever severe water damage threatens to erode what we have built.
    • Continue to promote and support the Cass County Career & Technical Education Center. This encourages students to consider the trades as a real career option and can help fill the many job vacancies in our region.
    • Look into Fargo-Cass public health’s personnel issues and needs to be sure our more vulnerable citizens are being helped in their time of need.

    Why are you running for this elected position?

    Cass County is experiencing record growth. In order to sustain that growth we will need a vision for our future. That vision isn’t one individual thing or facet of leadership. It will take a combination of dedication to studying the details of a public budget, willingness to talk to people from all walks of life, openness to discussing our weaknesses (even, and especially, when it isn’t comfortable) and an ability to communicate intricate aspects of the public policy making process to the constituents we serve. I feel I can contribute those things to the County Commission if elected. 

    What do you believe to be the biggest issue the county or district faces? If elected to the commission or board, in what ways would you work to address it?

    Workforce. To be clear: the county faces many pressing challenges-all of which need to be addressed! But we have heard a consistent drum beat from employers in the private and public sectors that workers are in short supply. A good problem to have in many ways but a problem nonetheless. I believe the County Commission can contribute in meaningful ways to help create the culture of inclusiveness, affordability in both housing and childcare, safety and fairness that I know embody our values. All of these things must be addressed in order to attract more workers to our communities. 

    What experiences have prepared you for this elected position?

    My experiences in real estate and software sales have given me an appreciation of the need for innovation. Service in state government has allowed me to be part of policymaking firsthand. My time on business association boards has let me experience what it’s like for a local business person to express their needs to government entities at municipal, county and state levels. Finally, being a lifelong resident here, I care about our people and our future. Let’s make it a good one! 

    Biography:

    Ben Hanson is a lifelong resident of Cass County with family roots across the state of North Dakota. He currently works as an Economic Development Manager at JLL covering the Dakotas, Minnesota and Montana while finishing his master’s degree in Business Administration from NDSU (Go Bison!). Previously, Ben served in the North Dakota State Legislature as a member of the House and has been active on several local business association committees including the Fargo-Moorhead Homebuilders Association, The Fargo-Moorhead Area Association of Realtors, the FMWF Young Professionals Network and is a former president of COMEX (FM Commercial Realtors). 

  • District 4 District 4

  • Duane Breitling Duane Breitling

     

    If elected, what are your top three priorities and what relation do they have to business?

    1.Public Safety. The continued support of a full staff of the Sheriff’s Department, appropriately compensated. 2.County Projects. The dedication of appropriate amounts of CARE and ARPA funds to pay for projects that would otherwise require the sale of bonds and the commitment of general fund dollars, thereby avoiding the raising of taxes. 3.Education. The continued support of the Workforce Academy so that we can provide skilled employees to meet the needs of the ever-increasing industry and business growth of Cass County

    Why are you running for this elected position?

    The overall management of available funds to accomplish the needs of the county without the raising of taxes. This can be accomplished by the retention and hiring of capable department heads and working with them to provide the services the county desires. 

     

    Biography:

    Mr. Breitling graduated from the University of North Dakota with a Bachelor of Philosophy degree in 1962 and a Juris Doctorate degree in 1965. He served as a staff attorney with the Legislative Research Counsel the Legal Office for the North Dakota Legislature, through February of 1997. While in law school, Mr. Breitling was the student of note editor for volume 41 of the University of North Dakota Law Review, 1965/1965. He authored and published two articles in the University of North Dakota Law Review: Liability of an Insurer in Excess of the Policy Limits for Bad Faith or Negligent Settlements, North Dakota Law Review, Volume 40, 1964, and Eminent Domain-Regulations Relating to Highways and Streets—Compensation for Loss of Access, North Dakota Law Review, Volume, 40, 1964. Mr. Breitling was admitted to the North Dakota Bar in 1965 and the Minnesota Bar in 1984. He was a member of the Cass County Bar Association, State Bar of North Dakota and the American Bar Association. He was a past president of the Cass County Bar Association and a past member of the Board of Directors of the North Dakota Bar Association. Mr. Breitling and his wife, Mary Jane, live in West Fargo and have four adult children. Mr. Breitling served as the president of the Maple River Golf Club for six years. He provided volunteer legal services to the West Fargo Fire Department and was awarded an Honorary Life Membership. The Breitlings attend Blessed Sacrament Church in West Fargo. During the building of an educational addition, Mr. Breitling served as the building committee chairperson. 

    Adam Martin Adam Martin


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