To the Editor:
The crisis that had taken over the Fairmont City Council has been resolved, and its members are moving on. I am thankful for the decisions that were made, but do want to clarify a few statements that were made by me and others.
First, it was stated that I had been recruited to speak at the council meeting. I want to make it clear that there was NO recruitment. No one at City Hall, no council member, not any group or individual ever contacted me or asked me to speak. I attended the meeting because a letter to the editor suggested that anyone who supported city administrator Mike Humpal should attend. I had no intention to speak at the meeting, but as I listened, I felt the need to make several points.
1. I wanted to express my support of Mike. I have worked with him in St. Paul on issues affecting the city, and Mike has always been impressive when representing our area. He has an excellent reputation and expertise in economic development. I also felt that both Mike and former City Attorney Libby Bloomquist had been treated unfairly.
2. I wanted to remind the majority trio of council members of the need to represent the people who elected them. It was mentioned that those who supported Mike were a minority, but according to the many people who expressed their frustrations to me, we were in a large majority. In a situation with such strong feelings on both sides, it would be valuable to take a survey to make sure you are correctly understanding where your constituents stand.
3. I wanted to tell the trio what so many citizens were telling me. I did not think they were aware of how angry the community was over their perception that “three people were running the city and not caring what people thought.” Many people told me that they would not vote for the trio again and would not do business with them. This was very concerning to me as I do not wish to see any business in our community suffer. I have tried to be a good neighbor and supporter of Councilman Tom Hawkins’ business. Both of our vehicles were purchased at Hawkins and we have always received excellent service from them. My intent was to warn the council that people were voicing their concerns, but they were not being heard. Many felt that since they had no voice, the only way to get the attention of the trio was to affect their businesses. I was NOT calling for this to happen, but sending a warning to those involved.
I did not want to leave the impression that I am in favor of boycotting businesses. Quite the opposite. I am in favor of supporting local businesses like Hawkins Chevrolet. Throughout my career, I have worked to support the people and businesses in our communities. I am proud of them and thankful that we can work together to make a difference. How fortunate we are to live in this wonderful area.
State Rep. Bob Gunther
To our graduates …
To the Editor:
Many of you will soon be starting new jobs or going off to new schooling. Like generations who came before, you will soon be embarking on a journey in which you will have an opportunity to advance your knowledge, find your role in life, develop your leadership skills and have a lot of fun with people who may become lifelong friends. The two words most commonly used to advise you are “motivation” and “ambition.” You need both those traits as you venture out from home, but you also need something more, something you may have taken for granted in your family and school life here at home. You need good mentors.
Mentors will make a difference in your life. They can point out the best road ahead, as well as steering you past all the potholes along the way. You will need them, perhaps more than you realize, because you will be moving away from a whole set of mentors of whom you may not have always been aware. Your parents and grandparents and aunts and uncles were always there, providing that supportive safety net that deep down you knew existed but didn’t always see. Your teachers and coaches and employers and neighbors were always concerned for you, helping to steer you to this point in your life. True mentors don’t just tell you what to do or what form to sign, they help you grow tomorrow beyond the person you were yesterday.
The first thing you will realize after you leave is how much you miss all those people who filled your youth and who you never imagined missing. The next thing you will realize is how relatively little time is spent in the classroom. The temptation is to treat your new job or your new school as if it’s just the work hours and the classes and studies, as if that’s all you need to do — and when the day’s work or classes are over, you just hang out and do whatever. But life extends far beyond the job or the classroom. So be as careful and focused with your social and extracurricular activities as you are with your job duties and classroom studies. Focus on those activities that really inspire you and bring energy to your life.
You will be missed and thought of often and worried about occasionally. And you will miss all those family and teachers and friends and employers who helped you to this point in life. Sometimes you may find yourself lonely. But the loneliness is a sign of a much deeper joy that comes from all the commitments you’ve made and that have been made to you. Commitment is often portrayed as a burdensome duty, but it is really a source of great joy. Because, as you will discover, you can only find joy and happiness through the commitments of love and friendship you’ve made.