Park Board Candidate Responses

Park Board Candidates

Candidates for park board responded to the following questions:

  1. Please share about yourself and your leadership experience.
  2. What is your vision for the future of Fargo?  What goals and objectives would you like to see our community accomplish in the next four years?
  3. The coordination of the City, Park and School is key for the success of communities. As Park Board member how would work to increase strategic coordination between these entities.   
  4. Island Park is an essential gathering space for many residents in the downtown and Hawthorne area. What would you do to ensure continued activation and investment in core neighborhood parks?
  5. The Red River has an opportunity to be a center for outdoor recreation in our community. How do you plan to increase access, connectivity, and use of the river and surrounding trails?

Candidates are Brandi Malarkey, Joe Deutsch, Matt Magness, Vicki Dawson, Tyler Tracy, and Stacey J. Griggs. Read more about the candidates by clicking learn more.

Vicki Dawson

Please share about yourself and your leadership experience.

Since 1998, my career has been as a Safety Professional.  I am a Senior Risk Consultant with Federated Insurance Company where I just celebrated 10 years.  Previously, I was a Loss Prevention Specialist with North Dakota Workforce Safety and Insurance. I lead owners and managers of businesses of all sizes towards continuous improvement to advance their safety and risk management practices and culture.  

Volunteer Experience:

  • Past President of Clara Barton Hawthorne PTA.  I started and led the CBH Talent Show and Wacky Olympics.  I found and led the volunteers and handled the logistics for these events.  
  • Past President of the Northern Region Association of Safety Professionals.
  • Past President of Fargo Youth Hockey Association.  I first established the Intro to Hockey Camp, a low-cost introduction to hockey for youngsters.  
  • Fargo Parks and Babe Ruth baseball and youth soccer Head Coach.  Developing and leading practices and coaching games.  Leading one to two assistant coaches.
  • Boy Scout Troop 229 Adult Leader.  Teaching the Music, Sports, Scholarship, and Traffic Safety merit badges. 
  • Confirmation Teacher.  Leading ninth graders in learning about their faith.

My husband Steve, our two teenage sons Ben and Nick, and I live near Lindenwood Park.  My three adult stepsons, Charlie, Matt and Joey, live in Fargo as well. Steve and I are proud new grandparents to one-month and six-month old little boys.

Learn more about Vicki Dawson by following Dawson for Fargo Parks on Facebook.

What is your vision for the Future of Fargo?  What goals and objectives would you like our community to accomplish in the next four years?

As Fargo continues to grow, we will need to work to stay ahead of our growing pains.  In the next few years, our focus should be on a few key items:

  • Fargo Parks must maintain and continue to enhance and improve our neighborhood parks.  Residents rely on neighborhood parks for places to gather, visit, and play.
  • Recreational activities must continue to be offered and available for residents of all ages.  This would include affordability and accessibility.
  • Recreational activities should include sports and arts.  Offering programs that appeal to a variety of interests is important.  Our focus needs to be to provide something for everyone.
  • Safety at our parks is of utmost importance.  If our parks do not feel safe, they will not provide the core reason we have parks—enjoyment.  

The coordination of the City, Park and School is key for the success of communities.  As a Park Board member, how would you work to increase strategic coordination between these entities?

As we have seen with the parks and recreational demands that a new high school brings, we know that it is vital that the City, Park and School work together.  Davies High School has a set of softball fields near the school that for the Eagles softball teams. Fargo Parks uses these same fields for youth baseball. This cooperative effort is exactly what we need to pool our resources to provide our community with needed facilities.

Communication between these groups is the key.  By working together, we can provide the best possible facilities and parks while being fiscally responsible.

Prior to adding or changing any existing parks or facilities, we must work together to see how all can best benefit from the additions or changes.  

Island Park is an essential gathering space for many residents in the downtown and Hawthorne area.  What would you do to ensure continued activation and investment in core neighborhood parks?

It is vital that the Fargo Parks budget includes funding to maintain existing parks, namely our core parks such as Island Park.  This funding must include the maintenance of existing pieces of the park like the tennis courts, pool, basketball courts, playground, green space and the trees.

In addition to funding the maintenance and upkeep of Island Park, we should look to hold more events at this wonderful park.  Movies in the Park, Midwest Kidfest and the Island Park Show provide nearby residents as well as many others with additional ways to enjoy the park.  

We will need to continue to look at ways to advance the park as well.  Providing a shelter similar to what exist at Lindenwood Park and Oak Grove Park would be a nice addition to Island Park.  The addition of the newest sports or recreational activities would be another thing to consider.

The Red River has an opportunity to be a center for outdoor recreation in our community.  How do you plan to increase access, connectivity, and use of the river and surrounding trails?

Fargo Parks has held events involving the Red River.  Events such as the Lil’ Fisherman’s Derby & Clinic and Safety on the Red teach us ways we can use the river.  Collaborating with organizations like River Keepers and FM Walleyes Unlimited can help us provide our community with education about the Red River and help us learn how we can utilize it.  

Collaborating with corporate sponsors would enable Fargo Parks to capitalize on local resources.  For example, Scheels will hold Fish Fest in May. This event could be partnered with Fargo Parks’ events involving the river at or between Dike East and Lindenwood Park.  The upcoming Spring Bike Tune-up Workshop held by a few local companies would be an event that could incorporate the trails.

Moorhead Parks offers canoe or kayak rentals to use and paddling excursion events on the Red River.  Fargo Parks could adopt a similar program or partner with Moorhead Parks.

As a safety professional, I recognize that safety will need to be the first and most important focus of any activity or event that Fargo Parks takes on involving the Red River.  

 

Joe Deutsch

Please share about yourself and your leadership experience.

I have loved serving on the Fargo Park Board for 12 years and am completing my third term as President this year. I have prided myself on utilizing my education to serve the citizens of Fargo. The citizens own the park district and I have strived to serve their wants and needs through our administration and have tried to be as accessible to the citizens as possible. I am also a Professor in Physical Education, Coaching, and Recreation at North Dakota State University. Before that I taught elementary physical education at Madison Elementary. My wife, Brandi, and I have raised our family in Fargo. My boys have all participated in everything the Park District has to offer, from playing baseball and flag football, to fishing at the Kennedy pond all summer long. I am fortunate to stay home with them in the summer and not only utilize all the Park District amenities but also to focus on my role as a board member during the districts peek time.

 

What is your vision for the future of Fargo? What goals and objectives would you like to see our community accomplish in the next four years?

We continue to develop the north softball complex and continue to turn the old fields into green space and fields for youth sports. This commitment to returning the neighborhoods to the families is a big project, but one we continue to work towards. We are also exploring the opportunity to provide much needed indoor turn to the citizens of Fargo, that landscape is continuing to evolve and I am sure the citizens will be very pleased as this project looks to continue to come together.

 

The coordination of the City, Park and School is key for the success of communities. As Park Board member how would work to increase strategic coordination between these entities.

I travel to conferences throughout the year and I always make a point to check out the park system and ask about the relationship with the other entities (schools and city). I can honestly say that I have never found a city with a better working relationship than we do with our city and schools. The effort to collaborate and to ensure we accomplish things as economically and efficient as possible, as we well as so we do not duplicate services, is amazing. Rather than point to where we would “increase” strategic coordination, I will say that we need to continue to keep the lines of communication open and strive to be the best public entities we can be together every day.

 

Island Park is an essential gathering space for many residents in the downtown and Hawthorne area. What would you do to ensure continued activation and investment in core neighborhood parks?

As I stated earlier with the north softball complex, we are committed to maintaining and developing all neighborhood parks. I am a huge proponent of the movie night series, predominantly held at Island Park. I have encouraged our staff to add more of these events. Movie nights provide family friendly entertainment for adults and children of any age and encourage activity at Island Park. I have never seen that park as busy as it was 30 minutes before dusk (people waiting for the movie to start). I feel we need to continue to host events down there, like Midwest Kid’s Fest, that utilizes the park’s assets and drives traffic down there in the hopes people will come back other nights.

 

The Red River has an opportunity to be a center for outdoor recreation in our community. How do you plan to increase access, connectivity, and use of the river and surrounding trails?

Great question! The utilization of the red river can be a tricky subject due to the extremely soft bank. Rather than treat it like an nuisance like they did when I was a child, we have tried very hard to embrace and utilize the red. We have added several opportunities for people to easily launch kayaks at various stations on the river in the city limits, as well as a kayak rental station. We continue to collaborate with River Keepers to better utilize the river and we continue to explore dirt bike trails and similar projects that require an abundance of land but that can be located along the river where other permanent structures may not be able too.

 

Stacey Griggs

Please share about yourself and your leadership experience.

My name is Stacey Griggs and I have lived, worked and played in Fargo for over 30 years.  My husband, Wes, and I raised our boys, Ben & Peter, in south Fargo and have been active in many organizations during our life in here.  Prior to becoming a full time mother, I worked in the insurance industry for 20+ years. I gained leadership experience while working but also through involvement in many organizations - as the chair of the Women’s Fund of the FMAF; Legislative Chair for Fargo City PTA and ND PTA; President, VP and Recording Secretary of PEO Chapter AU; Secretary of NDWGA; President of Lake Agassiz Exchange Club to name a few.  Through these experiences I have had the opportunity to contribute my talents, enthusiasm, knowledge and passion for the missions for which these organizations were founded.

 

What is your vision for the future of Fargo? What goals and objectives would you like to see our community accomplish in the next four years?

Fargo is a great place to live, work and play.  This community values the our health and safety in many ways.  We are fortunate live in a climate that changes seasonally. We need to embrace outdoor living in as many ways as possible and I would like to see us continue to grow programs for all seasons.  Providing safe places for people to come together for a shared activity or to just enjoy the beauty of the outdoors is important for social activity as well as physical activity. I would listen to what people want and find a way to make it happen.

 

The coordination of the City, Park and School is key for the success of communities. As Park Board member how would work to increase strategic coordination between these entities.

We are fortunate to already have a strong collaboration between city, school and park officials and boards and I would continue to support as well as work to enhance the current efforts.  Because the collaboration of these three entities is very strong, the importance of building collaborations with other organizations and businesses within our community will help take our park district and all it has to offer to a new level.  We need to listen to our constituents, study the possibilities and make the system great for everyone.

 

Island Park is an essential gathering space for many residents in the downtown and Hawthorne area. What would you do to ensure continued activation and investment in core neighborhood parks?

Some of my best memories as a parent in Fargo have been at Island Park.  Not only is this park logistically special, its rich history and amenities lend to so many opportunities for the future.  Our boys took part in the YWCA Gator “Under the Lights” swim meet several times. The opportunity to sit in a park and watch kids have fun and compete in a sport they enjoy is special, especially in a northern location like Fargo.  The pool, the tennis courts nestled in the park setting and walking tracks throughout make this park especially important to me. While the city keeps growing and parks spring up in new developments, the park board needs to remember the existing parks and how they are currently being used.  We need to make sure the amenities offered fit the neighborhood within which they exist. I believe this is true for IP as well as many others.

 

The Red River has an opportunity to be a center for outdoor recreation in our community. How do you plan to increase access, connectivity, and use of the river and surrounding trails?

The Red River is a wonderful source of recreational and educational opportunities.  Through collaboration with the city, schools and other organizations the river can be a great place to explore vegetation and animal life for all ages as well as enjoy recreational opportunities.  Increased visibility of current programming helps educate people on the possible activities the river has for them. Continuing to work with other organizations will also help to grow interest and activity in all the river has to offer.  

 

Matt Magness

Please share about yourself and your leadership experience.

I am a current Parks Commissioner and am a Fargo native. I am married to a Fargo

educator and have a son attending college.

I have had a 30-year successful business career with most of that in management and leadership roles. I own a business in the FM area and am an investor and board member of another. As Executive Director of the Small Business Development Center hosted by Concordia College, Offutt School of Business, I lead efforts to enhance small business success in west central Minnesota.

I am a Parks Commissioner because I believe in ‘giving back’ and ‘leaving the world better place’.  Serving as an elected official has been an honor and demonstrates Fargo resident’s confidence in me to represent their priorities and judgement. I am willing to lead and help shape the parks and recreation investments to deliver enhanced community, quality of life and future potential.

 

What is your vision for the future of Fargo?  What goals and objectives would you like to see our community accomplish in the next four years?

Fargo Parks has a rich history supporting the Fargo community’s desire for a wonderful place to live, raise a family and grow older.  My vision for Fargo is shaped by imagining my grand-children’s use and engagement in our community. With less need for parking lots, we can better utilize green spaces. With enhanced renewable energy capabilities, we will have more indoor sports and recreation facilities, such as turf or walking tracks, that can be utilized year-round.

Over the next four years, my priorities will be; 1) growing neighborhood parks and trails, 2) enhanced youth athletics facilities, 3) parks safety and security, and 4) expanded options for older-adult fitness and recreation.

Fargo’s growth requires investment to secure and enhance the green space we desire and cherish for our quality of life. Our growing community also needs additional, enhanced facilities that will support a healthy life style through fitness and athletic activities for all ages. Yet, growth is not solely on the outer fringes of our community. Re-investment in our city’s core and existing neighborhoods is crucial.

Fargo Parks facilities (indoor and outdoor) play an increasingly strategic role serving as local amenities as well as regional assets that contribute to the economic success of our community.



The coordination of the City, Park and School is key for the success of communities. As Park Board member how would work to increase strategic coordination between these entities?   

Today, the Parks, School District, and city are highly collaborative and have business processes in place to support enhanced future activities.

We have cross leadership meetings once a year between the three organizations today. Executive leadership of the organizations meet regularly (6-12 times a year).

As we hired our new Executive Director, Joel Vettel, his selection was in part due to his extensive relationships and ability to successfully collaborate across the schools and city organizations.

As Fargo Parks has seen the need for more security targeted within the parks, we have collaborated with the Fargo Police Department to establish that capability.

As the city has acquired land during buy-outs, Fargo Parks has been an active partner in planning for future ownership and use of various tracts of land along the river corridor for trails, river access and park areas.

As developers propose new construction projects, the city and parks jointly plan for trails and park areas incorporated in the development.



Island Park is an essential gathering space for many residents in the downtown and Hawthorne area. What would you do to ensure continued activation and investment in core neighborhood parks?

Island Park is a jewel for Fargo and has a rich history as a Fargo gathering spot.  I believe we have a specific obligation to continue to invest and re-imagine the role and features of Island Park and other core neighborhood parks.

The opportunity and challenge we face for the future of Island Park is to enhance both the historic role as well as meet the changing demands of our community.

I propose that we engage in a series of neighborhood and community meetings to gather input and together envision the future of Island Park.  The community should be central to crafting the future and identifying the role(s) for Island Park.



The Red River has an opportunity to be a center for outdoor recreation in our community. How do you plan to increase access, connectivity and use of the river and surrounding trails?

Due to our flooding relationship with the river corridor, we have slowly diminished the role of the river as an amenity for the city.  We need to re-dedicate ourselves to embracing the river corridor

The Fargo Parks has been working to accomplish this goal in a number of ways that I feel we should continue to accelerate; new trails and access along the river should be established,  additional green space for park areas that are maintained, more natural prairie and wooded areas for wildlife and outdoor hiking/biking, and improved landings, docks, and bridges to help actively use and view the river.

 

Brandi Malarkey

Please share about yourself and your leadership experience.

As a long-time resident of Fargo, I have resided in the Longfellow neighborhood for the past 19 years. I am a small business owner, an artist, a mother, and an active volunteer with more than twenty years of experience leading and managing projects and people. I firmly believe that the key to good leadership is listening and then doing your best to give people the support they need to help them play to their strengths and do their jobs well.

 

What is your vision for the future of Fargo?  What goals and objectives would you like to see our community accomplish in the next four years?

As a member of the park board it’s important for me to focus on issues within the scope of that organization which add to the community as a whole. Some examples are:

  • Identify hurdles that prevent participation in park programing.
  • Providing/maintaining spaces for the community to gather and self-program.
  • Focus and promote the Red River and the potential for it to become a community showpiece.
  • Support efforts to increase our staff diversity  

 

The coordination of the City, Park and School is key for the success of communities. As Park Board member how would work to increase strategic coordination between these entities.   

As a Park Board member I would like to work toward increasing community input. The City, the Park District, and the School District have very strong relationships, and communicate continually. Even with this strong relationship, some things slip through the cracks. Communicating directly with the community is an important way to fill those gaps, and ensure that what the community values is at the forefront of those discussions. An example of this would be through establishing a liaison with neighborhood associations.

 

Island Park is an essential gathering space for many residents in the downtown and Hawthorne area. What would you do to ensure continued activation and investment in core neighborhood parks?

With parks like Island Park, where it serves as both a neighborhood park, as well as a destination park, it is important to balance local community desires while maintaining the green space that provides a gathering place for the greater community, as well. Revisiting and reevaluating each park for updates or changes should be part of our overall strategic plan. Such reevaluation should include feedback from neighborhood residents and include questions like

  • Does the park reflect the needs and personality of the neighborhood?
  • Are there unmet needs?
  • Should the park serve a broader purpose in addition to serving the local neighborhood, and does it have capacity to do so?

Community input and feedback should be an essential part of the evaluation.



The Red River has an opportunity to be a center for outdoor recreation in our community. How do you plan to increase access, connectivity, and use of the river and surrounding trails?

Currently there are opportunities for wild flower walks, bird watching, fishing, conservation and wildlife restoration efforts, trails for hiking/biking/walking along the Red River. While we do have these wonderful opportunities for outdoor recreation currently, the area is still underutilized. To increase use, I believe the first step is to promote what we have, and make access easier. A simple example would be to implement better signage for trails. Clearly marking trail access points with signs which also indicate how far to the next exit point, would make it easier to use. National trends indicate that demand for these types of activities will continue to increase, and we should make every effort to ensure we are doing our best to meet that interest and need.

 

Tyler Tracy

Please share about yourself and your leadership experience. 

My name is Tyler Tracy. I am the Program Coordinator/Lecturer for the NDSU Sport Management program. I have held my position for the past two years, but have been involved in leadership for the last 13. I graduated from NDSU Fall 2005 and eventually landed a position with Fargo Babe Ruth as their Executive Director (2007-2011). After 4 seasons with Fargo Babe Ruth League, I transitioned to Regional Coordinator for One on One Learning (2011-2015) and spent 4 years with them. My passion is sports, so I took on positions with North Dakota Soccer Association (Executive Director: 2012-2015) and Park Christian School (Athletic Director: 2015-2016) until I finally took a position with NDSU (2016-present). Within all these positions, leadership was the only option. I have successfully lead volunteers, coaches, teachers, and students. My desire is to serve and what better way to serve than through communication and leadership. I am a father of four and have been married for 11 years. I have been a resident of Fargo since 2002.

 

What is your vision for the future of Fargo?  What goals and objectives would you like to see our community accomplish in the next four years? 

My vision for the future of Fargo takes a few shapes and forms. First and foremost, I want to be an advocate for Fargo Parks and their mission to provide quality recreation and leisure for the residents of Fargo. I am family man and I will work hard to support our district. Specifically, I want to continue to support Fargo Parks and their relationship with local bike associations such as the FM Trailbuilders. I envision bike paths that never meet the road (streets of Fargo) AND cover all of Fargo/Moorhead/West Fargo. I will be meeting with FM Trailbuilders leadership in early May to discuss their vision and I hope to support their aspirations. Lastly, I feel our community needs an upgraded/new children’s museum. I have four kiddos and every time we visit another community, we seek out their local children’s museum. The Fargo Parks does an amazing job supporting families and I feel a children’s museum supports Fargo Parks vision. If elected, I will work extensively to explore options for a children’s museum.

 

The coordination of the City, Park and School is key for the success of communities. As Park Board member how would work to increase strategic coordination between these entities?

I believe two important factors lead to the success of coordination…communication and information. As a Fargo Park Board member, I will encourage shared information as well as proactive communication to assist the coordination of the City/Park/Schools.   

 

Island Park is an essential gathering space for many residents in the downtown and Hawthorne area. What would you do to ensure continued activation and investment in core neighborhood parks? 

To continue activation and investment in core neighborhood parks, I would first find myself in the learning stage. Meetings with park leadership will be vital to my knowledge of what currently exist and hopefully offer ideas/suggestions as to what could be improved. My number one priority will be to provide parks that are safe and accommodating to all Fargo residents.

 

The Red River has an opportunity to be a center for outdoor recreation in our community. How do you plan to increase access, connectivity, and use of the river and surrounding trails? 

As I stated above, I want a continuous bike path. Our biking community is growing and a trail system supporting the communities desires only seems fitting. I plan to increase access, connectivity and the use of the river through conversations with local groups with similar desires, visiting other city parks that do offer extensive trail systems as well as conversations with Fargo Parks staff and their vision(s). Individually little is accomplished, but as a group, with a common goal, we can accomplish a lot.


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