On Becoming Informed, Minot, and Public Service

On May 24th I attended a candidate forum for the candidates running for Minot City Council. It was sponsored by the Minot Daily News which I credit for its dedication to community awareness. Although the attendance was pretty good, I suspect the questions were not as detailed or as expansive as those asked by the Minot Voice at this site. I also suspect that many more individuals checked out the candidate’s questions and answers via the Minot Voice than attended the Minot Daily News. My purpose is neither to praise nor to criticize, but merely to observe that the Internet is now the primary source of information for the younger generations. There were younger people at the Minot Daily News forum, but my observation was that they were outnumbered by the 50 plus demographic. If one gets more information by staying at home as opposed to taking the time to drive across town, it is difficult to opine that the younger generations are less intelligent than their elders. If there are young children at home, the internet as a source of candidate information is a no-brainer.

To the credit of North Dakota nice, although a few people attending the forum rolled their eyes and whispered in each other’s ears after candidate answers, the air of civility was old school. There was no yelling or screaming. If there were the gnashing of teeth, the sound of it does not carry very far. No candidates body slammed or punched Bill Sasser of the Minot Daily News for asking tough questions. Nor did anyone break his glasses.

The issues the next city council members will be faced with are quite daunting. Flood control is an absolute necessity. It will be very expensive and mind numbingly slow. It will happen in an environment wherein both the state of North Dakota and the federal government may finally be coming to grips with the glaring realities that their tax revenues are not adequate to fully finance all of the benefits their citizens have come to expect. Tax increases of any kind are about as popular as cancer. So, however, are reductions of public services. That said, in challenging times those who appear to be ordinary persons, when faced with extraordinary problems, sometimes rise to the occasion. If our new city council members are hardworking, respectful and tell us the truth, even when we don’t want to hear it, all will be well and good. I commend each and every candidate for being willing to accept the daunting challenges facing Minot. Being brave is a necessary element of good leadership. So is admitting one is wrong, from time to time. So is sharing the credit for success rather than hogging the spotlight. Bottom line: to all candidates, I respect you all and wish you the best. Thank you for being willing to accept the often thankless task of governing. Your success is our success, and your failures are our failures. We sincerely want you to succeed, especially the roughly 25% of us who still live in the flood plain. Good luck governing. If not you, who? If not now, when?

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Jim Maxson

Mr. Maxson is a retired Minot attorney, former ND State Senator representing Minot's 3rd District from 1986-1994, and former ND Democratic National Committeeman from 2000-2008. He speaks two languages, English and Metaphor, and is cursed by a long memory.

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