Dedicated residents, your city needs you

Body: 

Put up or shut up.

According to Merriam-Webster, that phrase is used to "tell someone in a somewhat rude way to start doing something or to stop talking about it."

For residents happy or unhappy with the current state of politics in Cloquet, there are a number of opportunities to take action — "put up" — by stepping up and volunteering to serve on one of the city's various boards and commissions. Such groups are the building blocks of grassroots democracy, and they perform the valuable job of acting as advisory boards to the city council, mayor and city staff.

Of course, we would be remiss if we didn't also note that serving on a board or commission also gives a person the opportunity to make a statement by stepping down — as did Planning Commission member Kelly Johnson, when she stepped down Oct. 19, two days after the City Council bypassed the usual hiring process for the police chief position.

In her resignation letter to fellow commissioners and city staff, the 14-year veteran of the Planning Commission noted that the city needed "strong people in all city positions to make the right/fair/ethical decisions that need to be made."

We would echo that statement, and of course encourage people to apply only if they aim to make the effort to do the best job possible for everyone involved — rather than lobby for a favored project, business interest or friend group.

According to the city's website, vacancies currently exist on several boards and commissions, so a person should be able to find the right group for his or her interests. All terms are for three years, but members may reapply once their term is finished.

There are or will soon be openings on the following boards/commissions:

• Citizen's Advisory Board: This three-member volunteer board is charged with assisting the Cloquet Police Department with hiring, discipline and resident complaints by providing the police chief with an objective community perspective.

• Library Board: The seven-member volunteer board provides operation and management direction for the administration of the Cloquet Public Library.

• Parks Commission: The seven-member volunteer commission advises on the oversight of all park operations, including land acquisition, development, improvement and use, and maintenance.

• Planning Commission: The seven-member commission considers proposals to the city for amendments to the comprehensive plan, site plans, zoning ordinance changes, zoning map changes, special use permits and subdivisions. The commission reviews requests, conducts public hearings as required, and makes recommendations to the City Council. The Planning Commission also has final say on all variances and appeals unless appealed to District Court.

If you are interested or have any questions, contact City Administrator Aaron Reeves at areeves@cloquetmn.gov, or 218-879-3347. For more information or an application, check out the city website, or better yet, attend a meeting or contact a current member.

—Jana Peterson