Dick Palmer: Leadership rests with our citizens

Expect a spirited fall municipal and school board election -- spirited, indeed, because much is going on in our community, some good and some not so good.

Expect a spirited fall municipal and school board election -- spirited, indeed, because much is going on in our community, some good and some not so good.

Our system of self-government, especially at the local level, represents an untold opportunity for citizens to actually make some serious choices in the selection of a municipal and school leadership team that supports their interests.

We, as Americans, are fortunate to have that opportunity.

The mayoral race will be in the spotlight and that should generate interest in the city council and school board races. The latter two bodies represent the legislative branch of government and deserve more attention than they customarily get. Council and school board positions are held by citizens who represent various districts throughout the city and, in the case of the school board, even some surrounding communities. The council and school board approve an annual budget, determine policies and work with the mayor or superintendent to develop a liaison between management and the neighborhoods they represent.

Bragging about this area is the simple part because we have much to brag about. Watching government action or inaction, however, is see the tearing down of a framework of accomplishment. This has to change.


Painting a doom and gloom image of Duluth would be unfair and unwarranted. And yet, Duluth doesn't seem to be keeping up with the changing times, the new concepts and recognize a new generation of ideas and accomplishments that are pushing other communities rapidly ahead.

Duluth is still clinging to the Industrial Age when smoke stacks and union picket lines determined the economic stability of our area. When the smoke stacks disappeared, the government entities came with the free programs that in many cases took away incentives because there was a better way with the help of government. Of course, many of these programs were great, but too many weren't. With a tight economy, those communities dependent on government are feeling the pinch; it isn't pretty.

By contrast, in the Twin Cities new home construction is setting records. The Builders Association of the Twin Cities reported that new home starts are 22 percent higher than in June 2002, and the highest since 1989. Most new homes will be single-family dwellings. There are buyers waiting in line, and the Twin Cities economy is quite stable to support this growth.

Locally the headlines suggest Boeing might consider building a plant here in Duluth. Where would all these folks live? What other amenities do we have to offer? Every time someone wants to build something in this area, the againsters come out in force to stop the flow of logic.

Now our university is nearing capacity, and if UMD peaks out, the only way it can go is downhill. Certainly we don't want that.

There are serious questions on the horizon for Duluth and the immediate area. New leadership faces are needed to take on these challenges. Indeed, this fall's election is a most important one.

Dick Palmer is the former editor and publisher of the Budgeteer News. He may be reached by telephone at 729-6470 or by e-mail at .

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