Opinion editor’s note: This article was signed by multiple Minnesota mayors. They are listed below.

 

Prof. Lawrence Jacobs of the University of Minnesota recently wrote a commentary for the Star Tribune on the challenges of the urban rural divide in Minnesota (Opinion Exchange, July 28).

In 2017, the Regional Council of Mayors launched Minnesota Mayors Together (MMT) out of a concern that what divides us is affecting our ability to reach our full potential as a state. Jacobs’ last statement in his article is reflective of the work of MMT since its formation two years ago: “We need to find a language of fellowship, to build alliances and welcome creative policy that will anchor Minnesota’s future in our shared destiny: greater opportunities and fairness in the days to come.”

Since the MMT initiative began, we’ve sought to build trusted relationships by fostering conversation and collaboration across Minnesota. In Bemidji, Duluth, Owatonna, Willmar and Edina, more than two dozen mayors from across the state have met to discuss local economic issues, share community successes and failures, and consider ways to work together in a positive fashion. We have, through those meetings, experienced what Jacobs characterized as “promising opportunities to realize a shared destiny,” building relationships with leaders from other communities and finding language and policies that embrace people across our differences.

Our next Minnesota Mayors Together meeting is in late October in Fergus Falls. In our joint determination to assist in creating a more prosperous Minnesota, our next steps include amplifying a contagious model that continues to catalyze conversations and leads to shared actions, all of which, we believe, will help shape Minnesota’s future and create greater opportunities for our residents, regardless of geography.

 

The signatories of this article, each the mayor of a Minnesota municipality, are: Douglas Anderson, Lakeville, danderson@lakevillemn.gov; Marvin Calvin, Willmar, mcalvin@willmarmn.gov; Jim Hovland, Edina, jhovland@hovlandrasmus.com; Rita Albrecht, Bemidji, rita.albrecht@ci.bemidjimn.us; Elizabeth Kautz, Burnsville, Elizabeth.Kautz@burnsvillemn.gov; Tom Kuntz, Owatonna, Thomas.Kuntz@ci.owatonna.mn.us; Jake Spano, St. Louis Park, mayorjakespano@gmail.com; Ben Schierer, Fergus Falls, ben.schierer@ci.fergus-falls.mn.us; Janet Williams, Savage, jwilliams@ci.savage.mn.us; Emily Larson, Duluth, ELarson@DuluthMN.gov; Mike Maguire, Eagan, mayor.mike.maguire@gmail.com; and Rhonda Pownell, Northfield, Rhonda.Pownell@ci.northfield.mn.us.