Times Editorial - Hopefully, the council hires the best 'guy'... or someone else

Mike Christopherson
Crookston Times

    On more than one occasion since the City of Crookston commenced with its search for a new city administrator several months ago, at various Crookston City Council meetings and at the recent joint meeting between the council and CHEDA Board of Directors, comments like the following were uttered:

    “Well, he’s going to have to work with the guy, too.”

    That particular quote was from a recent discussion at a council Ways & Means Committee meeting. Council Member Tom Vedbraaten wanted to know if CHEDA Executive Director Craig Hoiseth was going to have an opportunity to view videos created by the 10 applicants deemed best by the consulting firm helping the City navigate its search for an administrator. When told that it was highly likely that only council members and Mayor Dale Stainbrook were going to see the videos, Vedbraaten responded, “Well, (Hoiseth) is going to have to work with the guy, too.”

    Other similar remarks at other meetings referred to the soon-to-be administrator using male pronouns.

    Is this a big deal? No, it’s not. But it gets a mention...

    Are people in politically correct overdrive these days? Yes. Should the “cancel culture” permeating our society continue to grow unfettered and unchallenged? No. It’s getting to be a bit much. Are people overreacting to various micro-aggressions? Certainly, on occasion, they are. In our society these days, especially with the pandemic and the killing of George Floyd and all of this tension, everyone seems to be either hyper-sensitive to everything, or not sensitive at all, no matter what awful things unfold before their eyes. Is there such a thing as balanced outrage? Likely, no.

     The multiple “guy” references uttered by elected City officials is smaller than all of that; it’s less significant. But it’s certainly no secret that, with no women on the council and the only woman in City leadership being Interim City Administrator Angel Weasner, there is no shortage of constituents in this community who think our City leadership team is a good old boys club that works behind the scenes without public scrutiny when they shouldn’t be and work by their own set of rules whenever it’s convenient for them.

    We’re all guilty of it, though, right? We approach a group of people that features males and females and we say something like, “Hey guys…”

    But when you’re trying to hire the top boss of your City administration and you on multiple occasions refer to the person who will hold the position at some point as a “guy,” certain people are going to think you’re sending a message. Even if you’re just speaking innocently and you’re guilty of only not thinking about what you’re saying.

    So what good news it was when the council and mayor last week picked four finalists to invite to Crookston for interviews, and two of them are women. Of course, gender should have nothing to do with who makes the cut; it’s all about finding the best, most qualified person for what is certain to be a challenging, demanding job.

    The two women finalists certainly aren’t guys. It’s worth noting that they’re not “gals,” either. They’re simply intelligent, accomplished individuals seeking an important job. Same goes for the two guys still in the running.