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Split votes, sound governance

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It has been interesting watching the Wadena City Council over the past few years cast so many split votes when such non-unanimous tallies are a rare occurrence at other election official meetings.

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At its May meeting, at least four times there were split votes among the five elected representatives. There was spirited discussion on all of the issues, each side making a compelling case in each instance, and then a vote was held which was not unanimous.

It was not the same players who dissented each time. There wasn't one pro- voting bloc and one anti- bloc. There weren't any alliances.

Council members voiced their opinions, argued their side, but didn't hold a grudge if their idea didn't win, because a new argument was coming up on the agenda right around the corner, and those who were opponents on one issue suddenly found themselves allies on a different issue.

We believe the Wadena City Council's ability to argue vociferously on an issue of importance, but then put aside any differences after it is decided is a sign of true strength.

All of the council members and Mayor Wayne Wolden know Robert's Rules of Order quite well, and they operate within the rules' boundaries to get their point across.

Many councils, boards and committees have the idea that a split vote is a sign of disunity and disarray, and a split vote should be avoided at all costs. We disagree. The public isn't of one mind on every single issue, and the elected group that represents them shouldn't be of one mind either. A little debate and discussion is healthy. It shows the public that some issues are worth arguing over.

If a public body always votes unanimously in all cases, why are we paying for 5, 6, 7 or 8 of them?

The council deserves praise for caring enough to argue, but being adult enough not to hold grudges. That's good governance.

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