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John Nephew

Maplewood City Council Policy & Politics


"It's Called Democracy"

Articles in this morning's Star Tribune and Pioneer Press preview this evening's upcoming council meeting. Not surprisingly, much attention is paid to Will Rossbach's agenda item, regarding a process for transition in the city manager's office.

Erik Hjelle is quoted by the Pioneer Press as saying, "I find it absolutely stunning that this is on the agenda." Given that Mr. Hjelle explicitly framed the 2007 election as being in part a vote of confidence in Mr. Copeland's leadership, it's hard to believe he's stunned that the topic would be on the agenda of the first meeting of the new year after the voters spoke.

When Mr. Hjelle offered the motion to make Mr. Copeland permanent in November 2006, he put it in the context of the upcoming 2007 elections. Speaking about Mr. Copeland's probationary period, he said, "Basically, that's before the next election. Everybody's going to have the right to go to the ballot box and make the ultimate decision as to what they want to support, what they don't want to support. It's called democracy. It works real well."

I was present at the meeting where Erik said this, and it's fair to say this is one of the reasons I decided to run for office -- to give voters a clear choice to ratify the agenda of last year's council majority and the person they installed to implement it, or to choose another path.

The voters knew what they were voting on. Their decision was unambiguous, with a dramatic increase in turnout and a landslide victory for the two candidates representing change, over the two candidates for whom Mr. Hjelle actively campaigned. While Mr. Hjelle may personally disagree with the will of the voters, I hope that he can respect their decision.

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