The Recall of Fargo City Commissioner Dave Piepkorn Isn’t Really About Dave Piepkorn

According to reports the committee organized to recall Fargo City Commissioner Dave Piepkorn says they have the requisite signatures and will be turning them in some time this week. Which means the recall will happen, assuming all the petitions and signatures are in proper order.

This may seem like a local issue which only matters to Fargo residents, but it’s not. This is a matter of statewide import.

Because this isn’t really about Piepkorn. This is about whether elected officials can ask uncomfortable questions, and pursue unpopular truths, free from the threat of ideological backlash.

The recall activists are upset that Piepkorn has been asking questions about the costs of refugee resettlement, and has largely rejected the shallow pablum various public and private entities have offered up as answers to those questions.

…this isn’t really about Piepkorn. This is about whether elected officials can ask uncomfortable questions, and pursue unpopular truths, free from the threat of ideological backlash.

That there is little data on resettlement currently available is beyond dispute. We need to know more about these impacts “so the important refugee discussion is guided by facts, not emotions,” the Fargo Forum editorialized recently recognizing that gaps in publicly available data.

Yet some find the requests for this information inherently offensive. Some think it’s bigoted and racist and mean spirited to want to understand what refugee resettlement might mean for taxpayer appropriations to social programs, law enforcement agencies, and education efforts.

Those are the people who think Piepkorn ought to be recalled, and they’re dead wrong.

Again, this recall isn’t about Piepkorn. It’s about a group of angry, hidebound ideologues trying to make the quest for certain types of information so politically radioactive that no other elected official or public servant will pursue it.

If you don’t like Commissioner Piepkorn – and he has done some things of late worthy of criticism – there is a regularly scheduled election in June of 2018. You can vote for one of his opponents then.

But if you vote to replace Piepkorn in this recall election it won’t be a referendum on his job performance. It will be a victory for who want put the debate over public policy in a box.

None of us – left, right, or center – should want that.

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and host of the Plain Talk Podcast which you can subscribe to by clicking here.

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