Every year elections would have saved New Brighton taxpayers thousands, for many years, and increased voter participation -- we had only 2,900 voters in 2015. Gina Bauman stood in the way of this common sense change and flip-flopped from her initial support for this measure after realizing that it could shorten her own 12-year political career if she lost another election.
In contrast, I proposed shortening council terms, including reducing my own, for all four council members. When was the last time an elected official voted to reduce their term in office? I did on November 10, 2015 and the ordinance passed 4-1.
In the year since, Bauman claimed support for a popular vote on the November 2016 ballot. This vote did not occur because of Gina Bauman. Just days before the legal deadline Bauman submitted a petition full of errors and mistakes. Over 30 signatures were rejected for including minors, ineligible voters, and non-residents. A number of petition signers supported the even year change but were confused by misleading labeling on the petition. If submitted sooner, the city would have been legally obligated to provide an opportunity to correct the petition errors. Waiting until the last minute took away your ability to vote on even year elections.
Bauman's efforts to fight even year elections has distracted the city council from more pressing issues. I for one, am ready to discuss other issues that improve the quality of life in this fine city of ours.
New Brighton City Council Member
As anyone who has followed this case knows, nearly every assertion Strub makes here is false. The findings of fact in the case before Ramsey County Judge Lezlie Ott Marek were clear. As a reminder, I republish the order from Judge Marek, which includes the findings of fact from the case, below:
So let's sum up, shall we?
- The City did not pass the ordinance in a timely manner. For the ordinance to have been lawful, it would have needed to be passed by June 1, 2015, not November 10, 2015. You cannot blame Bauman for that.
- The petition was not full of errors and mistakes and in fact it complied with statutory requirements.
- The timing of the petition was indeed "just days before the legal deadline." Which means, of course, that it complied with the statutory requirement for timely submission.
- The City improperly rejected the petition.
- Since the City Council did not pass its ordinance in a timely fashion and also improperly rejected the petition, it was in violation of the relevant Minnesota statutes.
- The City lost its case decisively.
Now, a few questions for Mr. Strub:
- If you still believe in saving money, are you willing to propose another ordinance that moves elections to even number years, which would extend everyone's term a year? You could do that at any time. If your stated goal of saving money is correct, why stop now? Have you considered reintroducing your ordinance, which would be timely based on the statute?
- Speaking of money, how much money has the City spent on fighting this losing battle? Does the total exceed the anticipated savings from moving the election?
- How does your letter help to resolve the issues you and the rest of the City Council have created?
- If you are willing to shorten your term, have you considered resigning your position?
Gina Bauman had every right to pursue the remedies she pursued and she did so properly. Brian Strub can spin it any way he'd like, but the facts of the case are clear.