Nancy Edmonds Hanson
Six people from Ward 2 have applied for the open seat on the Moorhead City Council. The council will review them at its regular meeting on Monday, April 12. A decision is expected to be made at the following meeting on April 26, with the new member sworn in May 10.
The ward stretches from Main Avenue to Interstate 94 and generally from 11th Street South to the city’s eastern border.
The six are Evan Balko, Gail Enkers, Lillian (Nicky) Guetter, Michael Hajostek, Heather Nesemeier and David Marquardt.
The vacancy they’re vying to fill was left vacant when first-term Ward 2 member Shelly Aasen Carlson was appointed by the council to fill the remainder of Mayor Johnathan Judd’s term. Both Carlson’s former seat and the mayorship she now holds expire on Dec. 31, 2022.
The city charter lays out the procedure for picking a replacement upon the resignation of a member. Community members are invited to file confidential applications with the city. The charter then mandates the council will select the applicant who will fill the rest of that term.
Most recently, the application process was used to seat Melissa Fabian – also in Ward 2 – when former member Jim Haney resigned after the 2016 election to take his newly won seat on the Clay County Commission. Fabian herself resigned in mid-2018 when her family moved out of town, leading to Carlson’s victory in that fall’s election.
The Extra invited all six applicants to provide information on their candidacy, since the applications filed with the city are considered private. Four responded.
Evan Balko is a professional photographer and videographer for the High Impact Institute and Dakota Medical Foundation. A Moorhead native and graduate of Concordia College in communications, he’s a graduate of the 2020 Chamber of Commerce Leadership Class and has been involved with seven Fargo Startup Weekends and events sponsored by Ladyboss Midwest.
Of his qualifications, he says, “Through my career and education, I have become skilled as a communicator: understanding how to disseminate information to the public, how to have difficult conversations, and take feedback from the public. A significant part of being on City Council is public relations, and that is a skill I am specifically trained in.” He is enthusiastic about downtown redevelopment and notes that, with its rapid growth and young families, the city needs to insure that its parks and facilities are able to meet the needs of young families, and also grow as children become teenagers: “I want to ensure Ward 2 is equipped to grow alongside its residents.”
Gail Enkers worked in the area for 37 years as a registered nurse following six as a classroom teacher before her retirement. A resident of Moorhead since 1971, she is a member of Trinity Lutheran Church, a lifetime member of the Moorhead VFW and a past member of the MSUM Alumni Board.
An MSUM graduate with degrees in English and nursing, she notes that retirement gives her time to dedicate herself to helping chart the course of the city. “My leadership skills include researching issues, initiating and completing projects, and working together with others to solve problems,” she says.
Lillian (Nicky) Guetter
Lillian (Nicky) Guetter says she believes she is the first transgender candidate to compete for public office in Moorhead. A logistics technician at Sanford Hospital, the Detroit Lakes native has lived in Moorhead for 12 years. She is a director of the Clay County DFL organization; vice chair of Senate District 4 of the DFL; and member of its LGBT committee.
“I am a recovering addict with disabilities,” she says. “I believe that, with my work and life experience, I can bring a new perspective to the council. I would work hard to represent all the citizens in my ward and Moorhead as a whole.”
David Marquardt, a 16-year resident of Moorhead, taught elementary school in Fargo for 21 years after graduating from MSUM with a bachelor’s degree in elementary education and NDSU with a master’s in educational leadership. A former president of the Fargo Education Association, he is currently a field consultant with North Dakota United. He and his wife own and operate County Rd 13, a small business that refinished furniture and makes home décor. A part-time Realtor, he is president of the Moorhead Crush Fastpitch Association.
He says, “My wife and I have established roots and are raising our three children here. I am looking to attract and retain other homeowners to our city.” He supports developing more activities along the river, supporting current businesses and attracting new ones; and improving parks and green spaces. Other priorities include the use of CARE dollars received by the city; the need for an indoor recreation center; and securing funding for outdoor activities, among them bike paths of the roads, better ball fields and river development.
The Extra did not receive responses from the other two candidates, Michael Hajostek and Heather Nesemeier.