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Hanson, Olson and Gjerdevig to seek two open City Commission seats

Duane Hanson, candidate for West Fargo City Commission Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor1 / 3
Brad Olson, West Fargo City Commission candidate Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor2 / 3
Eric Gjerdevig. Special to The Forum3 / 3

Just one of the two West Fargo city commissioners up for re-election in June will seek another term, giving two challengers a chance at a seat on the city's top table.

Duane Hanson announced earlier this year he would seek a third term on the commission. Brad Olson, who ran for the commission in 2014 has also filed, as well as Eric Gjerdevig, who announced his candidacy earlier this year.

Commissioner Mark Wentz decided not to seek another term this year. Wentz was appointed to fill a commission seat vacated by Lou Bennett in 2012 and was elected in 2014.

Wentz said he has decided to focus more time on his family and career.

Hanson said he wanted to seek another term so that he can see a number of projects that began under his tenure be completed, especially the decommissioning of the city's sewage lagoons. Instead of treating the city's wastewater in its 460-acres of lagoons, the city will construct a pipeline this summer that will send the wastewater to a regional treatment facility in Fargo. Once the pipeline is up and running, the city plans to empty the lagoons and, if possible, use the land for future development.

"I think it's been a wonderful thing for the city, and it was part of my portfolio," Hanson said. "It's also been great to see the growth of West Fargo and the planning we have now. I've been proud of the whole community and how it is coming together."

Hanson is a longtime public servant in West Fargo, serving for 11 years on the school board prior to joining the City Commission.

"I still enjoy that type of work," Hanson said. "There are some projects that I'd like to be around to see get done if I'm fortunate enough to get re-elected."

Hanson is a financial adviser who raised two daughters in West Fargo with his wife, Betty. He also owns a small business.

Olson is a program director at the U.S. Department of Agriculture Farm Service Agency, where he has worked for 35 years. He has a son and daughter with wife Sheila.

He served as a Bowbells, N.D., city commissioner before moving to West Fargo.

"I've been in public service for 35 years, and this is another extension of that," Olson said.

Olson sought election to the commission in 2014 but lost out to Hanson and Wentz.

Olson was encouraged by other city officials to run again, and he hopes to help address increasing taxes and special assessments despite the city's huge growth.

"We have more people to pay [the taxes], so why do they keep going up?" Olson said. "People keep asking that, and I think we need to address it."

Gjerdevig announced his intentions to run in February. A West Fargo High School graduate, he started his professional career at Great Plains Software in 1998. After working at Microsoft, he left in 2005 to form Summit Group Software, a technology consulting firm headquartered in West Fargo for nearly eight years until it was acquired by True IT in January 2018.

City commissioners are elected at large and serve four-year terms. They are paid an annual salary of $11,800.

Mayoral race

Mayor Rich Mattern is seeking a fifth term in office, but he will be challenged by businessman and longtime resident Bernie Dardis.

The mayor also serves a four-year term and is paid about $16,500 per year.

West Fargo Park Board

Two West Fargo Park Board seats are up for election. Incumbents Ken Zetocha and Jeff McCracken are seeking re-election. West Fargo residents Jake Lauritsen and Chris Heise will also seek election to the Park Board.

Park Board members serve a four-year at large term.

Municipal Judge

Michelle Donarski will seek re-election as municipal judge unchallenged.

Wendy Reuer

Wendy reports for The Forum and West Fargo Pioneer, where she is also assistant editor. A University of Minnesota Morris graduate from North Dakota, Wendy started her career in television news and entertainment in Minnesota and at CBS in Television City, Calif. before working at newspapers in Minnesota and North Dakota. 

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