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Published June 05, 2012, 10:25 PM

GF City Council Candidates Square Off in Forum

GRAND FORKS (WDAZ-TV) - Candidates running for the Grand Forks City Council's four open seats faced off in an open forum on Tuesday night.

GRAND FORKS (WDAZ-TV) - Candidates running for the Grand Forks City Council's four open seats faced off in an open forum on Tuesday night.

Seven candidates are running for open seats in Wards 1, 3, 5 and 7.

Two incumbents are running again. Terry Bjerke is unopposed in Ward 1 and Doug Christensen faces opponent Sandi Marshall in Ward 5.

In Ward 3, Don Forsman and Bret Weber are vying for the seat vacated by Eliot Glassheim.

And in Ward 7, Ken Vein and Jennifer Dame are competing for Curt Kreun's spot.

"I can't emphasize enough I am proud of my record, I am a fiscal watchdog. I think the citizens, whether they agree with me or not, I'm very consistent," City Council member Terry Bjerke said.

After opening statements, candidates fielded questions from the audience. Those ranged from how to prevent Measure 2 from coming up again and the candidates thoughts on how they would interact with constituents and city officials.

"Obviously you have to listen. You have to identify the issue, and then if you has a City Council person can rectify the situation, you have to know where to go," Ward 5 incumbent candidate Doug Christensen said.

"Obviously listen. Listen to the nuances of what people say and respect," Ward 5 candidate Sandi Marshall said.

But some candidates didn't agree when it came to other issues. Like the question of whether the council needs the presence of a woman.

"I don't hear anybody asking if men should be elected to the City Council. So I don't view membership on the city council or in any political office or in any other job per say as being a gender based issue," Ward 3 candidate Don Forsman said.

"Grand Forks is becoming an increasingly diverse city. It's necessary that we have increasingly diverse representation at multiple levels of city government," Ward 3 Bret Weber said.

Another question from the audience touched on local government and how it collaborates with local nonprofit organizations.

"I think it's beneficial for the city to work with the nonprofits to allow them to thrive, to allow them to grow," Ward 7 candidate Jennifer Dame said.

"A lot of essential services are there through the nonprofits. I work for a nonprofit with Altru Health System and we bring back to this community millions and millions of dollars in services," Ward 7 candidate Ken Vein said.

Dan Hennessy will appear on the ballot as a Ward 3 candidate but he has since dropped out of the race.

Early voting at the Alerus Center ends Wednesday. You can vote any day leading up to the elections at the county office building.

Elections are on June 12.

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