Somali-American announces plans to run for Fargo mayor
FARGO - Fargo may have its first African-American candidate for mayor.
Ahmed Haji, president of the Somali Community Development of North Dakota, filed his paperwork Monday with the city auditor's office.
Sharon Odegaard, a longtime employee of the mayor's office, said she is "quite sure" Haji is the first African-American to run, but the city auditor's office could not confirm it because race is not submitted in candidacy paperwork.
The 27-year-old joins the race as Mayor Dennis Walaker seeks his second term. Robert Gates also filed paperwork in February for the office.
Haji, who has lived in Fargo for five years, said he hopes to give a voice to the Somali and other immigrant communities "by listening to their ideas and their needs and making them all come together," he said. "Whether they be white, black or Asian or any type."
Many of the immigrant groups in Fargo are divided instead of working together, he said.
"I think I can make a lot of changes by bringing all of the business owners and nonprofit organizations together (to) have ideas and share ideas and become one community," he said.
Haji also said he would like to create more jobs and programs for youth.
And in a city defined in recent years by flooding, Haji also has plans for protection against the Red River.
"I want to fight the flood by using new technology to monitor (the river level)," he said.
Though Haji said it's still too early to know what chance he stands against Walaker, he believes he will get a lot of support from immigrant communities, small-business owners and nonprofit organizations.
The election is June 8. The deadline to file paperwork is April 9.
"I want to make Fargo a better place to visit, live and work," Haji said. "My main goal is to build and make community a bigger issue in Fargo. I believe Fargo is a small city but with a big heart."
The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead and the Herald are Forum Communications Co. newspapers.