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Editor's note: Last week, the Herald's editorial board sat down for an interview with Steve Gander, East Grand Forks' newly elected mayor. The following is a transcript of that conversation, edited for clarity and length. □ □ □ Q. Why did you run for mayor? Gander: The simple answer is, I love my country, and I want to serve. I don't have too many regrets in life, but I do regret never having served in the Armed Forces. I feel like others have done that, and yet I get to enjoy the freedom and the privilege that comes from their hard work.
East Grand Forks has been around a long time. So it's not every day that residents get to see something entirely new coming from their 130-year-old city government. But that day will be arrive in a month or two, thanks to an invitation from the Chamber and new mayor Steve Gander's commitment to what he calls the Three T's—trust, teamwork and transparency. The Chamber invited Gander to do a State of the City address, of the sort that Grand Forks Mayor Mike Brown has made a yearly tradition.
In November, 10,000 protesters occupied land near Standing Rock. And every few weeks, they'd celebrate a new Obama administration decision that advanced their anti-Dakota Access Pipeline cause. On Wednesday, a few dozen stragglers at the site awaited arrest, the now-empty camp a wasteland of tents, tipis and other structures collapsed in the mud. Meanwhile, the pipeline drilling under Lake Oahe continued not far away. What happened?
Scott Meyer has nothing to apologize for. OK, so lashing out in frustration wasn't the most "politic" thing for a politician to do. We're referring, of course, to the Grand Forks state senator's tweet after Saturday's legislative forum—the tweet in which he stated, "The Pontification Festival is over. Not many questions asked to the legislators, but we were lectured. Great way to spend a Saturday."
To grow a local economy, go after low-hanging fruit. Here's a promising tree that's within local reach: Grand Forks should fight like mad for high school tournaments, celebrate the events full-throttle, raise money for fresh facilities and commit to sports tourism as an avenue for useful growth.
"There were a few other things I heard about the (failed sales-tax) vote that I'll address directly: it was not the right recipe, and you didn't hear from me enough. "I own both of those." Those are the second-most important words that Grand Forks Mayor Mike Brown said last week in his 2017 State of the City speech. The most important are these—the words that came next: "So I commit to putting in place as many listening systems as possible to ensure anything that goes on a ballot truly reflects the community's voice.
The objections have been noted. A compromise bill has emerged. So, the Minnesota Legislature should accept the new plan, and pass the Minnesota Senate's version of Real ID. And now would be better than later. That's because if the bill fails, Minnesotans no longer will be able to use their driver's licenses to board commercial aircraft after Jan. 1. And if the Legislature wants every Minnesotan to think of the 2017 Assembly as a failed session, all the lawmakers have to do is let that happen.
"If the voters give you a thumbs-up, the Legislature should just roll up their sleeves and get the job done," said an organizer of the medical-marijuana initiative in North Dakota. Well—no. That's not the way lawmaking works. It doesn't work that with the governor, and it doesn't work that way with the Legislature, either. Nor does it work that way with Congress or the president in Washington.
It isn't the position. It's the timing—and the president's response. That's our takeaway from the fracas over the replacement of a retiring event coordinator in UND President Mark Kennedy's office. A key bottom line: The position is important, even vital. Why is Kennedy himself among North Dakota's highest paid public servants? Simple: Because Kennedy's salary is leverage. It's an investment by North Dakota in Kennedy's talent and connections, traits that Kennedy is expected to use to raise tens or even hundreds of millions of dollars for the university.
Gov. Doug Burgum has three terrific people to choose from for the seat on the North Dakota Board of Higher Education. All three would be great candidates for leadership positions in any number of fields. But for the specific job of serving on the state board, one of the candidates stands out. He is Dr. Casey Ryan of Grand Forks.