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West Fargo Mayor: Mattern seeks third term

West Fargo Mayor Rich Mattern.

The race toward the 2010 primary election for city and park officials is off and running, with the announcement Monday that Rich Mattern will be seeking his third four-year term as Mayor of West Fargo.

He was first elected to the position in June of 2002, after serving four years as a city commissioner, replacing Mayor David Stedman who made the decision to step down.

A resident of West Fargo for more than 30 years, Mattern presently serves as an Information Specialist for the North Dakota State University Ag. Communication Department and as an adjunct instructor in the Minnesota State University Mass Communications Department. He and his wife, Jody, a professor in the Mass Communication Department at MSUM, are the parents of two girls, Annie, a seventh grader at Cheney Middle School, and Jessie, a junior at MSUM, majoring in accounting.

Mattern said he made the decision to run again after being encouraged by his family and also motivated by a desire to continue his connection with several key city projects presently in the planning stages and vital to the city's continued growth.

"The city is in excellent shape, but we still have some growth challenges ahead of us and I would like to be part of that," Mattern stated. "As a community, we have made great strides the past few years with the realization of the 9th Street Interchange and the completion of the first phase of Main Avenue reconstruction, but a lot of work still lies ahead in efforts to continue the expansion. Now that we have the 9th Street corridor in place, we need to work especially hard the next few years to see that retail businesses are located there. We also need to look at a different source of water that more than likely will include a water treatment plant."

Mattern notes that all of these improvements will play a role in future growth. So much so, he is predicting that after the next official census figures are in, West Fargo could easily be ranked the fifth largest city in the state. "With a growth rate of approximately 1,000 new residents a year since 2000, when the population was estimated around 14,500, we are now expecting it to be between 25 and 26,000 people, and that really is exciting. I think that when you look at the city of West Fargo we are doing very well and there have been some very gratifying moments that continue to help make us 'the city on the grow.'"

Mattern said that with the recession talk now waning a bit, he is confident the city will continue to prosper in all areas - residential, retail and commercial - spurred on by such city incentives as the newly adopted two-year residential and commercial tax exemption that increased the cap limit on taxable values, as well as the ongoing Renaissance Zone program that has been a boon to both residential and commercial endeavors.

Mattern admits that serving as mayor has both its 'up and down' moments, but on the whole the positives far outweigh any other factors. "My time spent in city service has been very gratifying and I feel proud and privileged to be able to serve the citizens of the community."

As Mayor, Mattern also represents the community on a variety of boards and organizations including the West Fargo Economic Development Advisory Committee and the West Fargo Visitor's Committee. He is also a member of the West Fargo Exchange Club and his family attends Holy Cross Catholic Church.

Besides the four-year mayor position in the June 9 Primary Election, several other four-year spots are also open - the terms of City Commissioners Lou Bennett and Bryan Schulz; the Park Board seats of Denise Johnson, Sharon Odegaard, and Ken Zetocha; and the municipal judge position presently held by Susan Bailey.

Candidates can start circulating petitions for respective positions on Saturday, Jan. 9. A minimum of 300 signatures is required at filing, along with a statement of interest. The earliest petitions can be submitted is Monday, Jan. 11, with the filing deadline Friday, April 9, at 4 p.m.

Both the petition and statement of interest forms are available at West Fargo City Hall, 400 8th St. E., or online at and linking onto Inquiries can be made by calling 433-5300.