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Fargo commission: Mahoney wins re-election, Piepkorn regains seat lost in 2012

FARGO – In with the old and out with the new.

That’s the message Fargo voters sent Tuesday night in a seven-way race for two seats on Fargo’s City Commission, granting incumbent Tim Mahoney a third term and ushering former Commissioner Dave Piepkorn back into office.

In complete but unofficial results, Mahoney held a healthy lead with more than 29 percent of the vote. Piepkorn won about 21 percent – an 8 percentage point lead over the next closest challenger, current Fargo School Board member John Strand.

After the results are confirmed, Mahoney and Piepkorn will be sworn in on June 23 for four-year terms, earning a $25,228 annual salary.

Reached by phone Tuesday night, Mahoney thanked voters for granting him a third term. He said he took his convincing re-election as an approval of the commission’s actions in the past eight years.

“I think that the people believe in what we’re doing and that we’re on the right track,” Mahoney said. “We’re going to continue to push for more forward progress.”

Mahoney said a top priority for his next term will be planning for future growth.

He’ll be joined by a familiar face in Piepkorn, who served on the commission from 2008 until he lost a close re-election bid in 2012.

He’ll rejoin several politicians whom he sometimes clashed with during his four-year term. That includes re-elected Mayor Dennis Walaker, who made a surprise endorsement of now-Commissioner Melissa Sobolik just a week prior to her defeat of Piepkorn in the 2012 election.

Piepkorn could not be reached for comment Tuesday night.

Mahoney said Piepkorn will bring “a different perspective” back to City Hall.

“That will be good to have back on the commission,” he said.

The two seats up for election Tuesday were at-large seats, granted to the two top vote-getters. Each voter could vote for two candidates.

The complete but unofficial vote totals were as follows: Mahoney, 7,422; Piepkorn, 5,289; Strand, 3,202; Mara Brust, 2,758; Scott Wagner, 2,539; Vern Bennett, 2,422; and Tony Gehrig, 2,072.

Strand hugged supporters in downtown Fargo as his third-place finish was solidified. He said he wished for a different result but didn’t regret his campaign or the ideas he built his platform around.

Strand ran an energetic campaign with an “I Stand with Strand” motto that ran into some hot water when he briefly projected that motto onto a city water tower. Strand took down the projection after concerns were raised about a possible violation of state laws on using public property for electioneering. He faced the prospect of losing his candidacy and his spot on the Fargo School Board until the county prosecutor declined to pursue charges last week.

Asked whether that campaign strategy – and the subsequent media coverage – played a factor in his disappointing finish Strand said: “It all adds up.”

“It all plays a role,” he continued. “But I won’t presuppose anything.”

Kyle Potter
Kyle Potter is an enterprise reporter at the Forum. He came to Fargo-Moorhead in May 2013 after stints at the Associated Press, the Las Vegas Review-Journal, the St. Paul Pioneer Press and the Minnesota Daily. 
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