FARGO – For now, City Hall will remain open on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, after two city commissioners voted Monday night against a proposal to establish a paid city holiday to commemorate the civil rights leader.
With one commissioner absent, four commissioners split the vote 2-2, causing the motion to fail. Any of them could bring it back for a new vote when all five members are present.
Mayor Tim Mahoney proposed the plan, citing a variety of reasons, including racial tension around the country that’s led to the formation of the Black Lives Matter movement. The commission agreed to make MLK Jr. Day a city holiday two weeks ago but didn’t sign off on an adding a day off for employees.
“It’s my feeling that black lives do matter, and we have to address this issue. It should truly be a holiday,” he said. “Schools are off, federal holiday, state holiday, and I think for our employees with child care issues and such, it’s much easier for them to be able to do that.”
Commissioner Tony Gehrig disagreed, saying city employees have a flex day that they can take off whenever they want, including MLK Jr. Day.
“What we’re talking about here today has nothing to do with Martin Luther King Jr. or remembering a great man. This is about politics and I’m not going to be a part of it,” Gehrig said.