If you’ve been with The Minot Voice since the beginning, you know one of the issues I’m passionate about and believe in is City Council reform. When you look back over the last few years and discover that only 6 of the last 25 ‘elections’ for City Council seats have been contested, you’d be crazy if you didn’t at least ask why that is.
And the thing is, asking why isn’t enough. For the health of this community, we have to discover the answer and fix the problem. The level of distrust in leadership and apathy among citizens is simply not acceptable. Every initiative, every effort to improve Minot is marginalized because it starts from a position of distrust and skepticism.
My conclusion as to the problem — the one I’ve written about openly — is that we’ve got a broken system. Our method of elected leadership for Minot is archaic, outdated, and no longer serving this community. It’s long past due that we as citizens have an open and forthright discussion about the way we do things and ask if there are better ways.
There are. A quick look around the state at other large communities immediately exposes dramatic differences. The City of Minot has as many elected officials as Fargo, Bismarck, and Williston combined. Let me repeat that so it sinks in: The City of Minot has as many elected officials as Fargo, Bismarck, and Williston combined.
So what do we do about it? For me, the solution is simple. We make City Council smaller, and we make our elections citywide. By reducing the size and making elections at large, we give every citizen a voice in every leadership position in Minot. And in so doing, we’ll immediately restore choice to our democratic process.
Democracy is not democracy without elections, but elections are not really elections unless we’re making a choice between two or more candidates or two or more ideas.
Hopefully, you now understand clearly that I as the publisher and editor of The Minot Voice am in favor of reforming City Council. But in the world of journalism and media, we like to put up this front that we’re unbiased so we can present a story from two sides. It’s a worthy ideal, but there come times when we — as the media — simply can’t and shouldn’t attempt to remain unbiased. For me and the Minot Voice, this is one of those times.
Since I started writing about the issue, lots of people reached out to me wondering how we get it done. With each call I took, each meeting I attended, and each introduction I made, it became harder and harder for me to remain on the sideline. Two months ago I officially gave up and joined the organizing process in earnest.
The result of that organizing process is a group of people who have come together under the banner of #MakeMinot. Our mission is to identify issues important to this community and advocate for them politically. Issue number one, you guessed it — City Council reform.
Tomorrow, you’ll see through traditional media that this group — #MakeMinot — will be bringing this issue front and center. The goal: collect enough signatures to get the issue on a ballot and give each of you the chance to weigh in with your vote.
So from here forward on this issue and others I become involved in through #MakeMinot, don’t expect the Minot Voice to always present an unbiased position. We’ll, of course, maintain that journalistic ideal and attempt to deliver both sides of a story, but when we’re heavily biased one way or another, you’ll get full disclosure obvious and at the top.