Chuck Barney was elected Minot's new mayor Tuesday night, but the unofficial results show a noticable split among the city's voters.
Barney received 1,327 votes, or 56 percent, while there were 1,033 write-in votes cast. The exact breakdown of write-in votes isn't known yet, but the simple fact that essentially Barney received only 300 more votes than a collection of write-in candidates was surprising, to say the least. The most serious write-in candidate was Kevin?Mehrer, who entered the race late but still apparently mustered plenty of support.
What, exactly, do the results from Tuesday night show? The split among voters could certainly be a sign that more residents than usual want serious change in the city's leadership. Barney has been part of the city's leadership before, having served 12 years on the city council until stepping down in 2006. This represented the first run for political office for Mehrer, who graduated from Minot State University in 2010. Perhaps many voters simply wanted to see a fresh face in the mayor's chair.
Barney's experience allows him to step right into the job of mayor. He's worked with many of the current members of the city council, and is familiar with the inner workings of the city and its various departments. We expect him to be successful as mayor, although there is much work ahead of him as the city continues to recover from the 2011 flood. He'll also have to be involved as the city searches for a new city manager, and deals with the ongoing legal aftermath of the clumsy firing of the former city attorney.
We hope Barney and others in civic leadership roles take notice of Tuesday's election results. Obviously, a significant portion of those who voted are clamoring for change. Minot residents like Mehrer, first-time candidate Miranda Schuler, who unseated incumbent Scott Knudsvig in Ward 5, and new council members Benjamin Berg and Dave Pankow have much to offer the city, and their willingness to be active in civic issues should not be ignored. Rather, it should be utilized to help guide the city in upcoming years.