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Letter to the editor: Let's make township elections better

I was at the Thomson Township annual meeting last evening, March 12, and proposed a resolution for the town board, staff, and attorney to lobby the Minnesota Association of Townships and our state representative and senator to consider changing state statute to again have township board elections held “at large,” as was done a number of years ago.

The state, a number of years ago, mandated township boards be elected “by seat” instead. The only thing that this accomplishes is to give re-election advantage to the incumbent due to severely lessening competition. The resolution I proposed did not bind the MAT or state reps to anything other than consideration.

Another person commented that our school board is elected “at large” and so should our board. Someone else was concerned about the wording using the term “lobby.” The definition of “lobby” includes simply writing to whomever is wanted to be influenced. My proposed resolution and subsequent discussion was “lobbying” to the others on my part – it’s as simple as that.

Some folks also appeared to misunderstand that alternatives were proposed to change the statute to allow (versus require) election for “at large” representation, or, if selected by the board to be elected “by seat,” to have those individual board members represent individual districts as allowed elsewhere in township statutes.

All that it proposed is that if representing is “at large,” elections should be “at large” and not “by seat.”

Finally: I proposed that this resolution be acted upon within one week. The reason for that short time period was simple: The board has another regular township board meeting on March 21 and I worried it could rescind the resolution if action were delayed.

As I expected, the resolution did not pass. Self-preservation was apparent by the board members’ very vociferous “no” vote. I believe it may have passed if residents had the vote. My only interest is in getting better government.

John Bergman,

Thomson Township