Recently, someone told me I’m a member of the new Minot mafia. The comment caught me off guard, and I wasn’t sure how to take it. I don’t think it was intended as a compliment. I think it implied that I — along with other unnamed mafiosos — am conspiring for nefarious and self-enriching purposes.
So be it. If you’re considering taking your turn in public service, start growing your skin. Criticism is part of the job. And conspiracy theories will always garner followers due simply to their sensationalism.
Still, the ‘Minot Mafia’ moniker got me thinking. Used casually, it’s undoubtedly negative and destructive. It erodes trust. Going back to the #MakeMinot campaign, we argued that the transition to an at-large Modern Council and the resulting contested elections would — in time — quash some of these conspiratorial ramblings. I still think that’s true.
But never underestimate the staying power of a pithy catchphrase or a cultural meme that holds elements of past truth. Though I think we can and are rebuilding some of our lost trust, I don’t think we’ll ever be clear of our ‘Minot Mafia’ legacy. Maybe we shouldn’t even try.
Instead, what if we reclaimed ‘Minot Mafia’ to mean something different, something better, something positive? What if being a member of the Minot Mafia meant we were unapologetically and uncompromisingly for Minot? What if — as a member of the family — we were required to put Minot in front of our personal and ideological interests?
Here’s an example: last legislative session, we had three local legislators who voted against an appropriation bill that had $66 million in this-biennium dollars and $127 million in intended future-biennium dollars for Minot’s flood protection. Now, I appreciate those legislators holding the line on their conservative principles, but putting those above Minot’s safety and economic security? As a member of the Minot Mafia, that’s a decision that would require a sit-down because, in the mafia, we all know you never go against the family.
So, as we head into election season, the litmus test I’ll be applying to those seeking my vote for our legislative seats is one in which the politics of party take a back seat to the priorities of place. In other words, I don’t care if we send liberals, moderates, or conservatives. I don’t care if we send Democrats, Libertarians, or Republicans. But I do care that we send people that know that when they go to Bismarck, they go for Minot and they’re willing to go to the mattresses!
And oh yeah, next time someone tells me I’m a member of the Minot Mafia, I’ll be taking it as a compliment.