The oldest play in the political handbook is stoke fear and create doubt. To that end, Aldermen Seymour’s recent letter in The Minot Daily was masterful. Unfortunately for Minot and the democratic process, most of it simply wasn’t true.
As a member of #MakeMinot, the group behind this initiative, I’d like to set the record straight. Mr. Seymour refers to our initiative as a change to a city commission. It is not, that is false. The #MakeMinot initiative reduces the number of aldermen to five and makes them all elected in citywide elections. Those are the only changes. The Mayor and City Manager positions do not change.
Mr. Seymour alleges the #MakeMinot initiative lacks planning. That is false. This is a bipartisan initiative born from months of research, discussion, and conversations with officials all over the state. Further, it’s a conversation Mr. Seymour was invited to join prior to the February 13th City Council meeting. He chose not to be a participant. He chose to ignore the fact that many in Minot are unhappy with the state of our city, distrustful of leadership, or are so apathetic that they have checked out completely.
But it is true, Mr. Seymour was elected to City Council in 2010 in a contested election. But it is also true that in 2012 when Mr. Seymour ran for reelection for the term he is presently serving, that contest was unopposed. And if you do the research, you’ll find only four of our current fourteen aldermen had to win their seats in a contested race. That is a problem that needs a solution.
To clarify my point, how often would you dine out at a restaurant with only one item on the menu? On the question of your favorite football team, how happy would you be if the Jacksonville Jaguars were your only option? Minot’s archaic system of municipal government has robbed us of choice. Though our Alderman may live down the street, it is not a representative government because so few of us have chosen our leadership. Plain and simple, our system is broken.
The #MakeMinot solution: restore choice. We want to implement a system of government that would instantly restore the democratic election process. Citywide elections and fewer alderman would create contested races. We as citizens would be able to choose leadership based on principles, ideas, and vision. And we are confident that given many differing choices and options, the people of Minot are capable of choosing leadership that’s best for this community.
Yes, our proposal would add work for our elected officials. But if cities like Fargo, West Fargo, Bismarck, Williston, and Dickinson can be managed with five elected officials, we think Minot can get the job done with six (including the mayor).
That said, we welcome the debate. This is an important issue for Minot. That’s why we’re working so hard gather signatures so the citizens can weigh in with their vote. Though we hope from here forward the conversation can stay focused on the facts and not misinformation and propaganda — that’s the very least we should expect from our ‘elected’ officials like Mr. Seymour.