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Voter guide: Grand Forks city council races

With elections now less than three weeks away from potentially shaking up leadership at Grand Forks City Hall, voters have more need to know the candidates—and where they stand—than ever.

That's why the Herald has polled all 10 of this year's City Council candidates on some of the most important issues in the city. Their answers are set to run in a side-by-side grid format beginning today, with one ward's worth of candidates published per day in each of the four council wards on this year's ballot. The series begins with Ward 1, and moves in ascending order to Ward 7 by Saturday. The two candidates in the mayoral race will be featured in a similar format Sunday.

There's still a chance to see candidates describe their thoughts in person, too. The Grand Forks and East Grand Forks Chamber of Commerce hosts a candidate forum from 6:30 to 9 p.m. Wednesday at Grand Forks City Hall, where School Board, City Council and mayoral candidates will answer questions on their bids for election. The following week the Grand Forks Herald hosts a mayoral debate alongside a City Council candidate forum at 7 p.m. June 1 at the Empire Arts Center.

With all races contested, the makeup of the council could change significantly.

Besides where they stand on big issues, our upcoming series has asked candidates to tell readers more about themselves—why are they the most qualified for the seat they're seeking, and what do they see as the most important issue facing the city?

There's a lot at stake in this year's election, and our questions for candidates reflect that.

The next council is set to decide big issues like the future of the Grand Forks Public Library, which is on course for construction either downtown or "midtown" near Grand Cities Mall—and for Jeff Manley, running to unseat incumbent council member and new library advocate Bret Weber in Ward 3, renovation of the current building, not construction, is the solution. Should the city resolve to build a new library, council members are expected to ask voters to approve a change in the city's sales tax to fund its construction.

The council will also likely explore how—or whether—to fund key infrastructure projects like the city's new water treatment plant, a 42nd Street underpass and a new Interstate-29 exchange.

It's possible that could lead to a sales tax discussion as well, which could pose challenging questions about how to balance it alongside a push for a new library building.

Grand Forks leaders are also concerned about a high-priced housing market, with local leaders concerned about the affordability of homes.

In December, City Assessor Paul Houdek said a residential sale's average value had moved from $166,000 to $208,000 since 2010. A statistic from a 2012 report on Grand Forks housing suggested that the median home price was nearly 3.6 times the median household income, when an affordable housing market exists at values less than 3.0.

The Herald will continue to cover candidates through Election Day on June 14.


To view an expandable Ward 1 Race election guide as a PDF, CLICK HERE



To view an expandable Ward 3 Race election guide as a PDF, CLICK HERE



To view an expandable Ward 5 Race election guide as a PDF, CLICK HERE


To view an expandable Ward 7 Race election guide as a PDF, CLICK HERE

Sam Easter

Sam Easter is a City Government reporter for the Grand Forks Herald. You can reach him with story tips, comments and ideas at 701-330-3441.

(701) 780-1108