To be certain, it was a very close contest for Fargo City Commissioner with only about 140 votes separating first from second. The field of contenders was by anyone’s measure diverse and qualified. The other candidates showcased their talents, experience, and vision for Fargo, as did I. With a ton of work, personal sacrifice, and a little luck, we claimed a narrow victory. It took only a matter of hours for many news outlets in our city to attempt to delegitimize the success.
If you have read the paper, listened to radio, or watched the news you have heard it, “Gehrig won but turnout was very low and he only took home 22.3% of the vote.”
The Fargo Forum and High Plains Reader call me a partisan, going as far as accusing me of taking money from this party or that. One editor said I received support from one of the current Commissioners. Stories run about how younger voters stayed home. Some radio hosts are quick to point out that if there were fewer candidates the outcome may have changed, and 22.3% of the vote does not qualify as a “mandate”. The unifying message they want you to receive, “He may have won, but not really.”
[mks_pullquote align=”right” width=”300″ size=”24″ bg_color=”#000000″ txt_color=”#ffffff”]To the voters of Fargo I want to say I am extremely proud of the campaign we ran.[/mks_pullquote]
To the voters of Fargo I want to say I am extremely proud of the campaign we ran. To be clear, we took no money from any party. We received no mailing lists from any groups. We received no email lists from anyone. We received no endorsements from partisans or from any commissioner. Any suggestion otherwise is a flat out lie.
For the past 5 years, I, along with a small group of friends and family have spread our message to the people of Fargo. It took time away from my wife and son, in the beginning it cost us our own money, and it opened us up to public vitriol. All of this was endured for one reason, because I care about my home town. But that doesn’t fit the media narrative.
To those who say it was low turnout, it was with only about 14,500 voters. But last year during the normal cycle there were only 13,000 voters.
To those who say young people didn’t show up to the polls, you are right. However, this is standard.
To those of you calling me a partisan, nothing could be more absurd. We have worked our tails off to get our message out free of partisan influence, and I was willing to meet with anyone who contacted me.
To those saying I had big money backers, my largest donation was from a friend, $400 (public record).
To those who say our victory is tainted by only winning 22.3% of the vote, I say that is our system. The Forum and High Plains Reader are quick to point out that 78% of people “voted against” me. By that logic, Mayor Walaker won his first mayoral bid with 67% of people voting against him.
Finally, for those who call me a “rubber stamp no”, come to the first City Commission meeting on May 26th where I will be voting yes on my proposal to lower property taxes by 20%.
This victory marks a change for our city. We conveyed a positive message of fiscal responsibility and prioritized spending. We have challenged the status quo and brought new ideas to the forefront. Now, let us have a public discussion about what the role of local government is and see what the people decide, free of media bias.