Thank you, Shelly Thomforde.
Thank you, Shelly Thomforde.
How astute and timely for the government and civics teacher at Crookston High School, also a member of the mayoral selection committee, to point out as the committee’s discussion last Wednesday started to meander after a tie vote for mayor between Wayne Melbye and Frank Lindgren, that six out of eight council members on the committee had actually voted in favor of Melbye.
Thomforde wisely noted that it was the council members themselves, not the half-dozen citizens on the committee, that would be working directly with the mayor. If six of them were happy with Melbye as mayor, she said, then she’d change her vote from Lindgren to Melbye. In a vote moments later, others, too, changed their minds in a likely effort to show some harmony, and the 10-4 vote in Melbye’s favor subsequently resulted in the full city council Monday night officially approving Melbye as mayor.
Had Thomforde not spoken up, what would have happened? Would the council Monday night approve the initial steps in setting in motion a full-fledged, special mayoral election? No doubt, after the committee’s 7-7 vote last Wednesday night after four-plus hours of candidate interviews and debate in the city hall council chambers, any outcome seemed to be in play, and none of them were as favorable as leaving those chambers with a majority of the committee in favor of one of the four candidates.
Does a Melbye mayorship amount to more of the status quo, as some critics are claiming? Not if you’re comparing Melbye to the person he’s replacing, resigned mayor and current Polk County Commissioner Gary Willhite. There are significant differences between Willhite and Melbye, no doubt.
It’s natural to heap praise on the notion of change while at the same time being critical of the same old, same old. But while we’re on this particular subject, can we throw out the window any notion that a vote for Melbye meant more of the same, while a vote for either Lindgren or 22-year-old, inexperienced sparkplug Dillon Fenno amounted to a vote for change? Lindgren was on the council not that long ago, and he served longer than Melbye. Lumping Lindgren and Fenno together as agents for change is like calling the Super Bowl and a third-grade flag football game at Ed Widseth Field just a couple of football games.
Had the committee picked Fenno, who knocked their socks off in his interview, and had the council subsequently endorsed the committee’s recommendation, calling it a decision based on a desire for change and shaking up the status quo would have amounted to calling the NFL’s Super Bowl just another football game. Approving Fenno as mayor would have been the boldest, most earth-shaking thing the council has done since previous council members 20 years ago stared down a chambers overflowing with irate property owners and voted in favor of a 20-year flood protection tax. It would have made headlines far beyond Crookston, you can bet on that.
All the attention it would have generated, however, doesn’t mean it would have been the best decision at this particular moment in time, however.
The committee made the most common-sense decision in eventually rallying to put enough of its support in Melbye’s corner.
Meanwhile, Fenno doesn’t seem like the type of person who will think he’s been snubbed or hold a grudge fueled by hurt feelings. Instead, he seems like someone who will take the advice just about everyone offered in the chambers last Wednesday night and run for a council seat, or even mayor if he wishes, in 2018.
Here’s hoping he stays actively involved in the community he said during his interview that he plans to live in for the next 40 years.