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Special election for Fargo mayor won't happen before spring 2015

FARGO – The earliest the city can hold a special election to pick a new mayor will be 94 days but there are logistical problems that officials said Wednesday may require them to push Election Day back further.

Longtime Mayor Dennis Walaker died unexpectedly Tuesday night after winning his third term in June. The City Commission is expected to discuss on Monday plans for an election.

City Attorney Erik Johnson said Wednesday that state law requires candidates for city office submit their petition 64 days before election day and the city would have to give them 30 days to gather signatures.

He said he's still figuring out if this includes days needed to advertise that there will be an election for the office.

But 94 days, or mid-March, is probably too soon for DeAnn Buckhouse, the Cass County election coordinator, who will be coordinating the city's special election. She said Wednesday that she is still wrapping up the general election, which includes tasks such as filing the names and identification of everyone who voted with the state, pay poll workers and unpack voting machines, among other things.

She said she's recommending the City Commission push the election back to April.

Of course, that's usually the time the city is fighting a flood on the Red River.

There appears to be no limit how long the city can put off an election.

The city's home rule charter only requires that there be a special election if a regular election is more than six months away.

Johnson said it seems to imply that a special election ought to take place within six months, but doesn't state the requirement specifically. He said he expects the commission wouldn't want to wait more than six months.