Let youth help pay for governor’s mansion

According to media reports, North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum has tapped a personal friend and professional fundraiser from Chicago to help obtain donations for the state’s new governor’s mansion and put donations over the top.

That might seem like a good idea but it managed to find some opposition this week – from people who are supposed to be raising the money for the mansion and from some who want to avoid the appearance that the governor’s mansion is “for sale.”

The Legislature OK’d construction of a new $5 million governor’s home, stipulating that $1 million come from private donations. It is expected to be completed by Thanksgiving.

The team charged with raising the private money say they have raised more than $650,000 and expect no problems meeting the goal.

Still, there are those who don’t want “the people’s house” to be paid for by charities or entities that might expect something in return.

How about instead encouraging the state’s youth to chip in their pennies, nickels dimes and what have you to complete the mansion? True, as part of the taxpaying public, they already own the property. But personal contributions – by kids or any resident, for that matter – would give contributors a very personal stake in the mansion that should serve the state well for many years to come. They’d become part of the state’s history.

The idea has been done before, to be sure. One particular project that comes to mind is the Teddy Roosevelt statue in Minot’s Roosevelt Park. Back in the 1920’s, the state’s youth were called on to contribute pennies to pay for the statue’s base, and they succeeded. A list of the contributors was placed in the rock base but was later ruined by floodwaters.

To this day people remember their parents or grandparents talking about how they helped raise the money to place Teddy in the park.

A push to replicate that plan for the benefit of the governor’s mansion is not a bad idea.