City Council Survey: The Wrong Conclusions

If you’ve just landed on this page, and you don’t know what this is all about, you should probably go back to the beginning. This is the fifth post in a nine-part series, and before you read this, you need some context. Start here.

If you’ve just read City Council Survey: The Survey & Results, you’re in the right place. What you’re about to read are what I consider some of the dangerous conclusions we need to avoid. If, after seeing the results, you’re inclined to settle your thinking on one of the below conclusions, just don’t.

To Minot’s Elected Leaders & City Staff: Please Just Don’t!

Don’t Ignore These Results

Don’t look for a reason to discount this survey. 1100 Minot residents gave the performance of Minot’s City a Council a 9% approval rating. () If you’re inclined to think pessimistically that we all just have a negative view of government and that there’s no way to make an electorate happy, you’re wrong. Here’s proof.

Don’t Attribute These Results to One Event

Our approval rating of City Council speaks to a deeply disenfranchised electorate, and that doesn’t just happen overnight. These results are not simply a reflection of a parking garage boondoggle that happens to be in the news or the ever present reminders of the 2011 flood. Whatever the cause of this number, it’s been insidiously eroding trust in leadership for a long time.

Don’t Take This Personally

I’m sure it’s hard not to, but if you do, you’re making a mistake. If there’s one thing the survey makes clear, it’s that we the people appreciate the burden of public service and we wish we had more people willing to make the sacrifice you’re already making. The results of this survey speak to something, but it’s not your commitment to Minot or the hard work you’ve put in for our community.

To the Public Electorate: Please Just Don’t!

Don’t Make These Results About the People

Whatever your opinion on the oversight provided by Minot’s City Council, don’t let that belief color your judgement of the people who occupy those chairs or any member of the City’s staff. If you think they’re doing what they do for personal gain or selfish reasons, you haven’t been paying attention or doing your job in getting to know them better. And, whatever your opinion of their performance, don’t think it’s because they don’t care about Minot.

Don’t Get Lost in the Idea of Corruption & Conspiracy

Of all the places to land your thinking, this one’s by far the easiest and I believe the farthest askew. I say easiest because these are the first places we look when Government doesn’t work. But I don’t believe corruption and conspiracy are Minot’s problem. Here’s why: whether you know and appreciate it or not, you live place where government is more open and our leaders are more accessible than nearly any other place on the planet. Going further, you live in a place where the vast majority of people value and act with both integrity and honesty. Put simply, corruption and conspiracy is not who we are, it’s not in our D.N.A.. So please, just don’t.

Don’t Give Up on the System!

The comments from the survey were littered with a deeply ingrained sense of apathy. If we can’t restore faith in municipal-level government in a small town like Minot, then we should probably just pack our bags and hit the beach. But we can restore faith, as long as you don’t give up.

So, what are the right conclusions?

I have ideas, and you can check them out here.

Josh Wolsky

Editor and Publisher of TheMinotVoice, Developer of the #ForMinot Network,  Co-Host of #GoodTalk Minot, Advocate and Friend of the Souris River, Former City Alderman, and clearly -- all things #MakeMinot. Go ahead, don't wait for permission!