The Elections and Governance Task Force was formed by City of Fargo commissioners Tony Gehrig and Tony Grindberg.
After the June 2016 election, we had two winners out of eleven candidates who received relatively low vote percentages1. This spurred a conversation from not only the public, but the commissioners as well, resulting in the creation of the City of Fargo Elections and Governance Task Force in late 2016, spearheaded by City of Fargo Commissioners Tony Gehrig and Tony Grindberg.
What did it do?
The task force met every two weeks for several months in order to explore and discuss ways to improve the City of Fargo through reform of both governmental structure and electoral procedures.
It ultimately agreed upon two recommendations: increase the size of the commission by two and change our election system from first-past-the-post (FPTP, our current system) to a different one, called approval voting.
Who was on it?
Seven members of the community were placed on the task force as voting members, with several more community members and officials acting in non-voting, advisory roles*.
|Chair Bruce Furness
|Co-chair Arlette Preston
|Mayor Tim Mahoney
|Commissioner John Strand
|Commissioner Dave Piepkorn
|Commissioner Tony Grindberg
|Commissioner Tony Gehrig
|* Steve Sprague, City Auditor
|* Mike Montplaisir, County Auditor
|* Barb Headrick, League of Women Voters
|* Carol Sawicki, League of Women Voters
|* Mark Johnson, Instructor of Political Science at MSCTC
|* Tony Gehrig, City Commissioner
|* Tony Grindberg, City Commissioner
When low vote percentages are mentioned, what is meant is that traditionally a winning majority is thought of as being 50%. In multi-winner races, however, this must be looked at differently: it’s unreasonable to expect 50% support for winning candidates in any election for multiple seats. Generally, the formula for a reasonable winning percentage is determined by [1 / (num-seats-avail + 1)]. Therefore, a reasonable percentage for two-seat City of Fargo commission races is [1 / (2 + 1)] which is 33%.