In a debate kept closely in check by moderator Mark Western of Nilles Law Firm, incumbent mayor Dennis Walaker and challenger Brad Wimmer explained their respective positions on a number of issues facing the city in a debate hosted by The Chamber. Attendees packed the City Commission room at Fargo City Hall on Thursday, leaving only standing room for last-minute attendees.
While Walaker pointed out his accomplishments since becoming mayor eight years ago, Wimmer described his own leadership experiences and passion for seeing the city continue to grow toward a new vision.
While Walaker and Wimmer agree on several issues, the two also differ in their approaches to others.
Here’s a breakdown of what the candidates agree on:
- Permanent flood protection: Both Walaker and Wimmer expressed their excitement for the impending authorization of federal funding for the diversion project and credited The Chamber for working to secure state funding for the important flood protection project.
- Convention center in Fargo: The candidates would both like to see Fargo tout a convention center, whose location and funding sources have been thoroughly examined. Walaker citied fiscal responsibility and public input as vital to the process while Wimmer described the necessity for a study similar to the one the Fargo Dome Authority conducted.
- Fiscal responsibility of local government: Walaker and Wimmer agree that the current city government officials have worked hard to maintain balanced, responsible budgets and would continue to do so if elected.
- Increased police force: As Fargo’s footprint continues to grow, Walaker and Wimmer understand the crucial importance to keeping residents safe and would endorse increasing police staff to accomplish that goal.
Here are key differences in issues the candidates spoke about:
- Vision for Fargo: While Wimmer described the importance of having a new vision for Fargo to keep the city vibrant, Walaker said that assertion does not take into account the progress made over the last eight years.
- Campaigning: Wimmer pointed out that if he hadn’t challenged the mayor, Walaker would not have run a campaign. Walaker admitted “it would be a lot easier for me if I didn’t” have to campaign.
- Fargo’s land use management: Walaker said reaching the density of 9 people/acre as cited in Go 2030 is left to home builders who could help rehabilitate homes so they remain viable. Wimmer believes that Go 2030 priority needs to be reworked to account for building out the neighborhoods surrounding the core while planning for future development and footprint expansion.
- Attracting skilled workforce: Wimmer would like to see collaboration between universities and businesses—both large and small—as well as the entrepreneurial community to attract, educate and retain workers. Walaker would like to see collaboration between the cities and select organizations to improve the opportunities for young people in the area.
The debate is available online, and will be broadcast on TV Fargo 12 on the following dates and times:
- May 16 at 5 p.m.
- May 20 at 8 a.m.
- May 28 at 10 a.m.
- June 4 at 7 p.m.
- June 9 at 8:30 p.m.
The candidates will debate again on KFGO-AM Mighty 790 at 11 a.m. on May 28. The election is June 10.
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