Fargo-Moorhead News

Strand keeps seat as Turnberg unseats Preston on Fargo City Commission

Two people in separate portraits
Michelle Turnberg (left) and John Strand.
Courtesy photos via the Fargo Forum

The voters have spoken and selected two people to serve on the Fargo City Commission, unseating one sitting commissioner by a wide margin.

Newcomer Michelle Turnberg led the pack with 21 percent of the votes. She was elected alongside current commissioner John Strand with 20.2 pecent.

The pair beat five other candidates for the two open seats on the City Commission.

Roughly 32,600 votes were cast in the City Commission race during Fargo’s primary election on Tuesday, June 11, according to unofficial results from the North Dakota Secretary of State’s Office. Under approval voting, passed in Fargo in 2018, residents were able to vote for as many candidates as they wanted for Fargo City Commission.

“I’m excited for what’s to come,” said Turnberg, a former KXJB and KVLY news anchor. “I think people are excited for a change: bringing some common sense to the commission.”

She is a big supporter of Donald Trump and local law enforcement, she said, and plans to prioritize public safety in the next four years.

“I’m just very thankful for the people who came out to vote,” Turnberg said.

Strand was elected in 2016 and has served two back-to-back terms.

“I so appreciate the voice of the people,” Strand said. “That’s really what matters.”

This was a strong election cycle, he said, noting Fargo is a “great community” to produce so many good candidates.

He congratulated Turnberg and also thanked outgoing commissioner Arlette Preston for her years of service on the commission.

“It’s just been a delight working with her,” he said of Preston.

Preston was elected to the commission in 2020 and serves as deputy mayor. She previously served on the commission from 1992 to 2000. Her term ends in at the end of the month, when Turnberg will be sworn in.

Al Carlson came in third with 17.6 percent followed by Preston with 17 percent, Anna Johnson with 10.9 percent, Delson Saintal with 7.3 percent and Nathan Pullen with 5.8 percent.

At seven candidates, the number of choices on the ballot was down significantly from 2022, which saw a record-setting 15 candidates seeking the two open seats.

Commissioners are elected at large and represent the entire city throughout their four-year terms.

There are four commissioners, each paid $28,568.80 per year, according to a city spokesperson, in addition to benefits. The mayor also sits on the commission as a voting member.

The commission meets every other week at 5 p.m. in the city commission chambers at Fargo City Hall. Readers can access meeting agendas, background packets and minutes at fargond.gov/city-government/departments/city-commission/agendas-minutes.

All commission meetings are open to the public, except when the City Commission calls an executive session. Those seeking to address the commission must sign up in advance online.

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