Tuesday’s election is a hard choice. Of all the issues facing Minot and Ward County, spending $37 million on a jail feels like a case of misplaced priorities. Not long ago, we said no to a second high school. In two months, we’ll vote again on a recreation and aquatics center, and that effort is no doubt facing an uphill battle. Flood protection — the community’s most important need — is going to require a lot of money, and it’s completely unfunded.
And on Tuesday we’re being asked to decide on a jail.
It’s a perfect example of the imperfect system that is the political process, municipal government, and county government. We don’t get to tackle issues based on a fresh start or a clean slate; we’re forced to work with what’s in front of us and do what we can do as the situation dictates.
That said, saying ‘yes’ on Tuesday is the right answer.
Does it feel like a case of misplaced priorities? Yes. Does it feel like leadership has thrown us the old bait and switch? Yes. Is it time to have a serious discussion on how we spend sales tax dollars in Minot? Yes! Should any of that matter on Tuesday? No.
As a community, we have needs, and a jail is one of them. We’re over capacity and spending big dollars housing our inmates in other facilities. In this election, we can choose a solution that is both politically expedient and includes an easy-to-accept funding mechanism. We’ve already approved the tax; we’ve already approved the term, and on Tuesday we need to say ‘yes’ and let that half-cent sales tax finish the job it was designed to do.
Let’s get Ward County solved so we can move on to addressing the next issue.