Candidates for Fargo City Commission spar over DEI position

(Fargo, ND) – The Fargo City Commission candidates held their first debate of the election season Tuesday night in a two-hour discussion hosted by The Flag and WDAY Radio.

The City Commission candidates, totaling seven, are vying for two spots currently held by John Strand and Arlette Preston, who are both running for reelection.

Among the discussion topics were the city’s efforts with regards to diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI).

Candidate Nate Pullen said DEI is “ruining our military.”

“Not only is it ruining our military, but we’re not a racist community,” he said. “We’re a melting pot of diversity from all over the world.”

Pullen called the hiring of DEI Director, Dr. Terry Hogan, “disgraceful.”

“The city leaders need to step up,” he said.

Pullen said the DEI position “really needs to go.”

Strand pointed out that more than 90 languages are spoken in the City of Fargo.

“I don’t see a downside to elevating up the expectation that the people serving the people will reflect the people, and will have an understanding of the people they serve,” he said.

Michelle Turnberg said she is against DEI.

“I believe while we do need diversity, equity and inclusion, I don’t think we need a babysitter,” she said. “I believe the two best candidates should be election. I don’t think we need someone telling us to think a certain way.”

She said Fargo “has become a bit too woke.”

“We need to step back from that, and just focus on the troubles that we’re dealing with,” Turnberg said.

Preston said, “It’s difficult for people of color to advance.”

“If you look at the mix of employees, it’s pretty white,” she said. “There is a need for the program.”

Preston said the needs to be augmented and improved.

“That’s where I think the City Commission needs to do a better job,” she said.

Anna Johnson said Fargo’s DEI program “could be better.”

“I think the city could be doing a better job,” she said. “Representation matters because it validates the existence and experiences of diverse groups of people.”

Johnson said representation “also fosters inclusivity, challenges stereotypes and provides role models for individuals who may feel marginalized.”

Delson Saintal agreed with Johnson and Turnberg regarding representation.

Al Carlson said the best person for the job needs to be hired.

“I want equal treatment for all,” he said. “I think that my record in the state will tell you that’s important to me.”

Recommended Posts