Although the deadline to file for election to West Fargo City Commission is only two weeks away, it is unlikely election deadline protocol will be changed in light of the current COVID-19 pandemic.
Two seats on the West Fargo City Commission will be on the June 9 ballot, those currently filled by longtime commissioners Mark Simmons and Mike Thorstad. However, to file for City Commission candidacy, a West Fargo resident must gather 300 signatures from West Fargo residents and turn those in to the city auditor for review by 4 p.m. April 6.
Three West Fargo School Board seats will also be on the June ballot. While school board election filings must be filed with the district business manager by the same deadline, candidates do not need to complete a petition. Candidates are only required to submit an affidavit of candidacy and a statement of interest.
West Fargo Attorney Jon Shockley said while the city has authority over its elections, the city follows state statutes. In an email to City Administrator Fisk, Shockley said he is reluctant to waive the state requirements for election by drafting an emergency ordinance.
Changing the filing deadline could create in a delay of the election. Federal law requires that ballots be completed 42 days before the election.
The North Dakota Secretary of State has been suggesting candidates email their petition to their qualified contacts, ask their contacts, and their qualified family members, to sign the petition and scan the pages back to the candidate.
Fortunately for West Fargo candidates who've announced their intentions to run, most have already filed or completed the petitions.
Thorstad said he will not seek a third term, while Simmons intends to run for a fifth term and newcomers Mandy George and Roben Anderson announced their candidacies.
George, a corporate pilot, filed earlier this year and Anderson recently filed his petition with the city.
"They’re being reviewed right now, however," Anderson said. "I’m definitely relieved I got them turned in before the city closed to the public."
Simmons said his petition is complete but has not yet been returned to City Hall, which closed to the public on Monday, March 16.
West Fargo city commissioners are elected to at-large, four-year terms. Commissioners are paid an annual salary of $12,286, according to West Fargo Finance Director Jim Larson.
West Fargo School District Business Manager Levi Bachmeier said the school district's deadline has also not changed, although the district released accommodations for filings on Tuesday, March 24.
"Since we do our elections in conjecture with state and county elections, we will follow the guidance put out by the county," he said Monday, March 23. "We will continue to process the filings as they come in in anticipation of the April 6 deadline."
Candidates wishing to file paperwork between now and the April 6 should contact Bachmeier via email at email@example.com to set up an appointment.
As of press time, five candidates have officially filed for election to three seats on the West Fargo School Board.
Incumbents Patti Stedman and Dan Schaeffer, as well as Connie Faulkner of Harwood, Trisha Page of Horace and Shannon Grave of West Fargo have filed for candidacy with the West Fargo Schools business office.
Three school board member terms expire in June 2020: current Board President Patti Stedman, Andrea Payne and Dan Schaeffer.
Payne, who was elected in 2016 to her first term, is not planning to seek reelection.
The seven-member school board each serve four-year, at-large terms. The school board encompasses not just West Fargo but parts of Fargo and the communities of Horace and Harwood.
Candidates must file two documents with the district's business office by 4 p.m. April 6: an affidavit of candidacy and a statement of interest. Election documents can be found on the West Fargo School Board's website. Interested candidates may contact the business manager by phone at 701-356-2002 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. The business manager’s office is located at the Leidal Education Center, 207 Main Ave. W., West Fargo, ND 58078.
West Fargo Park Board Members Ken Zetocha and Todd Rheault are also up for election this year. Both men have said they intend to run.