Responding to Bob Roepke’s column in the Chaska Herald

Bob Roepke’s column regarding the Chaska City Council’s decision to hold a special election for Mayor (“Choosing and trusting officials”, Oct. 15 Chaska Herald) gets off to a good start.  Roepke accurately describes the process that led to the special election in his third paragraph. 

It’s after this point, though, that things get problematic.  Roepke, who admittedly discloses that he favored appointment (and it should be pointed out that he was considered perhaps the most likely candidate to be appointed to the position), spends the rest of the article elaborately constructing and then destroying a strawman that seems intended to represent the residents who favored a special election. 

Roepke repeatedly complains about the actions and attitudes of “some people” in his piece.  The “some people” are always unnamed and it is made clear that they are separate from the Council itself, which makes it easier to draw broad (and inaccurate) generalizations about them.  

Well, let’s be clear.  The reason we are having a special election in Chaska has little to do with the actions of “some people”.  All four Council members indicated both at the September 9 worksession and the September 21 City Council meeting that they favored appointing the next mayor.  The reason we are having a special election is because those four Council members had three conflicting positions on how to use the appointment process to fill the position.  If Roepke is upset about the outcome, then his complaints are with the Council for failing to reach consensus, not with “some people” who exercised their rights and expressed their opinions in favor of the special election. Supporting a special election was hardly some sort of radical subversion of the tenets of representative government – it was instead a desire to have a true representative elected by the people, not someone picked in a back-room deal. 

Let’s also point out that “some people” who supported a special election for Mayor included:  a former City Council member, current and past members of City Commissions, the editorial page of the Chaska Herald and dozens of long-time residents of this city.  These are not people who are, in Roepke’s words, “quick to criticize and accuse” and who need to “understand what it means to be a leader”.  These are people who care deeply about this city, have its best interests at heart, and who have contributed much to Chaska over the years.    

Bob Roepke has his own long history of service to this city.  He has earned the respect of all of Chaska for that record.  But he should live up to his own words and ditch the strawmen the next time he decides to pen a piece for the Chaska Herald.

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