City Council Survey: About the Survey & the Results

The City Council survey arose out of some research I did on the makeup of our City Council; it revealed this: compared to neighbor communities, Minot’s Council is quite large. Plus, over the past three election cycles (information further back was not as easily accessible), we’ve had few contested elections for Council seats.

I presented the results of my research in an easy-to-read post, and I encouraged survey participants to check it out before participating. You can see that presentation here.

And the survey is still open, feel free to take it. But percentages haven’t moved much since the first 400 participants, and we’re now at almost 1300.

The Questions

The survey had five questions with mostly multiple choice answers. Two questions allowed ‘open’ answers where participants could write their comments; many availed themselves of this feature. I’ve called attention to some of those comments and linked to all of them below the results gallery.

The Response

The survey had been active on the website for quite a while, but with The Minot Voice doing little self-promotion at this point, entries were only crawling in. On January 29, with about 80 responses already  received, I decided to promote the survey a bit and encourage sharing.

The response was impressive; clearly this was a topic on which many wanted their voice heard. By February 3, the rate of participation had slowed, the percentages weren’t changing, and the survey had collected almost 1300 responses, 1100 of which were from Minot residents.

A Couple Quick Details

  1. This was an informal survey. I don’t have demographics; I don’t have margin-of-error. It was shared primarily through Facebook, so those who don’t use computers are probably under-represented.
  2. It’s pretty safe to assume you were telling the truth. Accurate answers are the crux of any survey, but there’s some fairly well-established research that shows you all were probably answering honestly.
  3. Participating twice was difficult, but not impossible. The survey had protections to prevent repeat voting, but there were ways around for the tech savvy among you. I do not believe multiple responses from a single person skewed the results.
  4. IP Data was spot checked. I didn’t look at the entire database, but based on several random spot checks, the majority of responses were returned from Minot-based IP addresses.

The Results…

Besides the first slide (Are you a City of Minot resident?), the results you see are for those who declared, “Yes, I live in Minot.” In other words, these are the results from the people who matter — Minot residents.

The ‘Other’ Responses

For questions where participants were offered an ‘other’ choice, writing in a custom response was allowed. You can view them all by following the link below.

However, there were a couple themes that showed up over and again. Sometimes the language was almost the same, other times people found new ways to say the same things.

Apathy. A lot of you feel Minot is infected with it. Here are some direct responses:

Apathy (6, 7)

Futility (29)

It is hard to be interested when nothing seems to change no matter who is voted in. (58)

People assume that their voice wouldn’t matter so why try. (173)

People do not believe their 1 vote can make a difference. (174)

And a whole lot of you feel Minot’s leadership core is a little too insulated, there was some very common recurring language…

People don’t want to deal with the good old boy gang! Plus, I’m not sure council takes the public view into consideration.  (180)

People know how Minot politics work. If you dont have the right last name you dont have a chance. (184)

Minot is too much of a good ‘ol boys network (75)

it’s an old boys club, it’s more of who you know in this town and it needs to change (63)

There were also several voices that were frustrated with the electorate.

citizens should step up more, rather than complaining. (230)

I think people love to complain but don’t want to do anything about it by running. (240)

People that sit on the sidelines and complain really need to get involved. (259)

If you want to read all of the comments, here’s the link to the spreadsheet.

What Conclusions Should We Draw?

This is the question. I’ll share my personal thoughts in coming post as well as an editorial under the Minot Voice’s banner, but before you get to that, a warning. I think the results walk us toward some dangerous pitfalls, some wrong conclusions, and those are where I’m heading next.

Check out the next post in the series here: City Council Survey: The Wrong Conclusions

Josh Wolsky

Developer & Writer @TheMinot Voice, Fan of the Souris River, There's a lot to Savor about Minot. Fortunate to be a 'former' City Council member ;)