Mayor Tim Mahoney says Fargo is coming out of 2020 strong
FARGO (KVRR) – Despite the challenges brought on by the pandemic and civil unrest, Mayor Dr. Tim Mahoney says Fargo is coming out of 2020 strong.
When he reflects on the past year as Mayor, Mahoney recalls Fargo’s accomplishments first.
“I would say part of the strength of our community is the good balance. You have academics, you have medical, you have manufacturing and you have agriculture, and I guess I’d have to put a fifth, and that’s education,” he says.
Guidance from local public health officials through the pandemic, becoming a regional leader in wastewater facilitation, renovation of the downtown Ground Transportation Center and finalizing plans to open an Amazon fulfillment center are among this year’s accomplishments.
The right mix of leaders in these areas, Mahoney says, have allowed the city to remain strong.
“In the spring, when we went into COVID, we said, ‘What’s going to happen? What economic consequences [will come] of this happening to our community?’ And the kind of forecast that we had, our financial director, was actually wrong in every one of them because we outperformed that,” he explains.
Fargo’s unemployment rate had spiked to nearly 8% in April but is now down to 3%.
Mahoney attributes the city’s economic strength in part to people adjusting their habits to continue supporting local businesses while keeping safety in mind.
He says, “It just seems that a lot of us have adapted to the new normal and we’re getting through it.”
Although it had its successes this year, Fargo underwent some heavy challenges; one of the biggest surrounding racial inequity and a demand for change.
A peaceful protest was followed by rioting and destruction in downtown Fargo back in May.
Mahoney says what happened was “a wake up call.”
“Because you kind of get a little bit comfortable with where you are. Maybe we can do more. Is there something else we should do that we should think about?” he says. “I think we opened up some areas that we’ve been silent on. Looking at police, when we hired a new police chief, we had a 15-person committee. We invited community members in, and it was amazing that you had this big panel that looked at the police chief.”
Moving into the new year, getting police body cameras and adding a new role of Director of Diversity, Equality and Inclusion to the City are among the top priorities.
Increasing home ownership in low income neighborhoods, implementing efforts to become more sustainable, adding a new water tower and fire station, and continuing with the Flood Diversion Project are also on the agenda.
As vaccine distributions become available to the public, Mahoney says Fargo will begin a three-month transition plan back to “normal.”