LETTER: Apparently some councilors didn’t get the memo

By Contributor
January 15th, 2015

Dear Editor,

The recent election has shown, emphatically, how local residents felt about how the city was run by the previous mayor and council. It was clear that the voters wanted change; a change from government that didn’t listen. They wanted a voice in how the city is run.

At the Dec 15th, 2014 city council morning meeting, there was a question from the attending public, about whether council was considering involving the community in setting priorities for strategic planning for Grand Forks for the coming years. I was quite surprised to hear councilor Christine Thompson state “…I appreciate that the community wants to become involved in the process… this is Council’s strategic plan…  we were elected to go forward…  with decision making on behalf of the community…” 

This is exactly the same attitude the previous government had…   “we were elected to make these decisions for you” type of thing. Well, apparently they are no longer in office due to this attitude. You were elected because the community very clearly wanted change; change very likely meaning more representation. Do you think it prudent to just go ahead with “your” plans and ignore the majority opinion, just like the previous mayor and council ?

What is wrong with this picture ? Where would elected officials automatically get the idea they are autonomous bodies that make decisions “for us” ?  Is there something wrong with the oath of office and City Charter that needs to be changed so we actually have a say in what happens in our city ?  Not to mention, councilors get a paycheck from City taxes, paid by the taxpayers. Doesn’t that make council employees of the taxpayers ? When did serving the community turn into “running” it ?

What would really be good is some sort of mechanism through which the residents CAN get involved during planning and decision making. A simple inexpensive method… a signature list or ballot box in city hall or a mail-out survey. It needn’t be cumbersome. But referendums may be necessary on large or contentious projects.

Like the $1.3 million water meter debacle enforced by previous mayor and council. What ever allowed them to think they had the right to force something into place that the majority of residents were opposed to? Such unabashed arrogance. Unbelievable. It should be obvious now that it’s political suicide to go against the majority.

Mayor and council… please, let’s not go down that road. You were elected to represent us, not to run us. In a truly democratic government, you would consider that you are there to serve us.

If the oath of office or the city charter needs to be amended, please do so now, so that we don’t have to keep waiting for the next election in some hope of democracy. 

Let democracy prevail.

Jack Koochin

Grand Forks

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