Sunday, February 24, 2008
Fargo Woman: Linda Coates, Fargo Government
Born: Jamestown, ND, 1956
Education: B.A., B.S. and M.S. degrees in music and education, Minnesota State University Moorhead.
Vocation: Deputy Mayor, Fargo City Commission member since 2004.
Community Volunteering: City commission duties include serving as a liaison to many local groups and organizations.
On leadership, “A leader is someone who makes positive change happen through their commitment to a vision and inspiring the best efforts of others.”
The first time running for a political office, Linda was the top vote getter when she was elected to the Fargo City Commission in 2004. At the time Linda said that everything about it and process of getting there was new to her.
Linda was always interested in local, state and national political issues but not necessarily in running for an office. However, the seeds of campaigning were planted and started to grow when Linda was invited to attend sessions sponsored by North Dakota officials Conrad, Dorgan and Pomeroy to encourage people to get involved in their local governments.
A bit later Arlette Preston and Jean Rayl (long active in local politics) encouraged Linda to run for the Fargo City Commission and then she was asked to launch a campaign for office. Linda took a hard look and asked herself and others many questions before making her final decision to run for office. She ultimately decided that it was a duty and an honor to run. “It’s really important to have balanced representation along with the diversity and view points of different perspectives,” Linda said, “I needed to run as one woman.”
Now, having served on the commission for nearly four years, Linda said that the experience has been extremely rewarding and that she has learned a lot from it. It has been a good fit for her after spending large amounts of time employed and volunteering in local nonprofit organizations. As a city commissioner, Linda said that she likes to be able to serve the community in this way.
In Fargo city government each of the commissioners has a portfolio of areas that they are involved in on behalf of citizens. Linda’s commissioner responsibilities include serving as the liaison to the planning department and her ccommittee liaisons duties are to the Metropolitan Council of Governments, Renaissance Zone, Community Development, Cass County Planning, and Metro Area Transit Coordinating Board. She also serves as a board member liaison to Planning, Board of Adjustment, Library, and Native American Commission board of directors.
Linda said that serving as a city commissioner is hard work and that no matter what you do, some people will find fault with the efforts. Linda strives to focus on the job and the work at hand and understands that people get very passionate about their views. She said that most people respect the strengths of others’ convictions and the vigor it takes to be “out there” engaging in the conversations that it takes to make things better.