First, I want to say thank you to the Bemidji City Council members who did their jobs and cast votes representing the feelings and beliefs of their constituents with regard to the proposed changes on the Highway 197 corridor. The community was very vocal in its opposition to the proposal put forth.
Mr. Meehlhause characterized those votes of his colleagues as a lack of courage. Quite the contrary. I fail to see how a representative of the people he or she represents could be considered courageous for casting a vote that goes contrary to the opinions of those constituents and the livelihoods of those most affected by the proposed changes. I would call such a vote by the minority in this instance irresponsible at best and totalitarian at worst.
Mayor Albrecht resorted to name calling following the vote, calling the citizens and business owners she represents luddites because they don’t agree with her utopian vision for the future of the corridor. I don’t know Mayor Albrecht personally, but I believe her to be a person of passion. Sometimes, our emotions get the best of us and we all might say things we may later regret saying, so I can forgive her for calling me a luddite. What I cannot forgive her for is deciding that she is entitled to make decisions contrary to the wishes of the majority of the citizens she represents, and then chastising them for daring to reject her attempt to assert her vision for what she knows is best for them despite their objections. Public service is an honor, not an entitlement. It is time we elect a mayor who understands that.
This vote has made it very clear which of our elected city officials consider themselves representatives of the people they serve, and which of them think of themselves as knowing better than you do about what is best for you and your businesses, while calling you names and saying “how dare you stand in the way of me doing what I know is best for you.” I hope that my fellow citizens will use this as an opportunity to think about which kind of person(s) you would like representing your interests on the council and then vote accordingly in the next election.