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Two write-in candidates seek park board seat

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First there were two and now there are four candidates vying for three seats in the June 10 West Fargo Park Board election.

They include incumbents Sharon Odegaard and Jeff McCracken and write-in candidates Ken Zetocha and Denise Johnson.

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Johnson, also an incumbent, had decided not to seek re-election after serving 24 years, or six terms, on the board.

That’s until only two candidates filed by deadline leaving one ballot seat vacant.

“A lot of people said, maybe you are meant to continue, so I did it as a write-in candidate,” Johnson said.

Zetocha, after also seeing the ballot vacancy, placed his name as a write-in. He previously served two park board terms before being defeated in 2010.

Odegaard was also toying with stepping down after serving 20 years on the board, she said. Nobody was filing for election, so she decided to run again for a sixth board term.

“I love this board,” Odegaard said. “I just feel like we make a difference in people’s lives.”

McCracken said he decided to seek a second term because, “I just enjoy the whole operation. The things we’ve been able to accomplish the last four years have been phenomenal.”

A top Park Board priority four years ago was building a new swimming pool and water slide complex which will open soon on the old Veteran’s Memorial pool site. “That has been a big project and will be a huge bonus to the community,” Johnson said.

The priority now, all agree, is keeping up with West Fargo’s fast-paced growth.

“I think what we’re seeing now is trying to keep pace with the needs for new ball fields and new soccer fields,”

Johnson said. “We’re trying to keep pace with the volume of people that want to participate in activities.”

The challenge now, said McCracken, is to make sure there are park facilities and programs for all age groups.

Zetocha said he was approached last year to consider running again for park board.

“I think there’s some great things going on,” he said, including the opening of the new swimming pool.

“There’s a lot of new opportunities as the city is growing,” he said, including land for park program expansion.

“I see all these things as positive,” Zetocha said. “My enthusiasm is still there. I look forward to working with the public and the board if elected.”

“We have to be diligent with taxpayer funds,” said Odegaard, when building new parks and keeping already developed parks in good repair.

Park Board members serve four year terms and are paid $1,932 per year.

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