- Associated Press - Sunday, February 28, 2016

MINOT, N.D. (AP) - A special election on Tuesday will give Minot residents a chance to vote whether to give themselves the authority to change the makeup of the City Council.

Voters will decide on two measures that would create the authority and mechanism that allow for changing the form of government, but they don’t include proposals for any specific changes. If the measures are approved, a separate measure to cut the size of the City Council is expected to go on the June 14 ballot, the Minot Daily News (https://bit.ly/1TCq2p5) reported.

A citizens group, known as #MakeMinot, is urging residents to vote for the measures. The group launched a campaign last Monday, promoting their cause on social media, on billboards and by going door-to-door.

“Our message is that it’s extraordinarily important to vote at every election,” said #MakeMinot spokesman Shaun Sipma. “It’s essentially just exercising our right to have our voice heard, and the voting booth is one of the most critical places to do that.”

The measures don’t have any organized opposition, but some residents have shared their concerns.

Minot resident Lianne Zeltinger said the home rule charter related to the city’s power to enact ordinances would be amended to allow a small group of residents to petition for a change in the city’s form of government.

She’s also worried that voters might not be getting enough information to make an informed decision, which could affect how they vote or whether they vote on Tuesday.

Both Zeltinger and Sipma said the lack of citizen engagement and low voter turnout in Minot in the past several years is troubling.

Last October, #MakeMinot submitted petitions to change city’s form of government, with the goal of increasing community engagement. The group proposed a more modern City Council consisting of five or six members elected at large, plus a mayor.

In consultation with the state attorney general, the City Council determined the city’s home rule charter doesn’t give the council or voters authority to make that change.

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Information from: Minot Daily News, https://www.minotdailynews.com


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