Urban/Rural Divide Prevalent at first County Board Meeting of 2019
TJ Leverentz | Jan 9, 2019 AT 6:02 am
It’s certainly not to the degree of polarization seen in Washington, but a rural-urban divide led off the first Winona County Board Meeting of 2019.
In the past four years, the board used a rotation to determine which commissioner would chair the board. In 2019 Steve Jacob, commissioner of the rural third district, was scheduled to assume the role of chair.
That changed when Commissioner Greg Olson, who represents western Winona, proposed to scrap the rotation schedule and have the board elect its chair. Newly elected commissioner of the urban first district, Chris Myer, approved this motion saying she feels responsible to vote for a board chair that represents the will of her constituents.
Even though the chair position is far more grit than glamor, it comes with the power to make appointments to the planning and zoning commission, a position with heightened importance when considering the Daley Feedlot expansion and Winona County’s fracking ban.
The board voted 3-2 to appoint second district commissioner Marie Kovecsi as the County Board Chair. The two rural commissioners, Marcia Ward and Jacob, were the two dissenting votes.
One item of note is the county planning commission mainly impacts the citizens of rural Winona County. The citizens of Winona fall under the jurisdiction of the city’s planning committee, not the county’s.
Ward pointed out that rural Winona County citizens cannot sit on the city’s planning committee but citizens from the city of Winona can sit on the county planning commission, even though they are not as impacted by the county planning commission as rural citizens are. Ward characterized this as an unfair representation.
Jacob said the change in the appointment process felt like a power grab by the urban commissioners to keep rural influence off the county planning commission. He went on to say that this was a rough way for the board to start in 2019 and not much more could’ve been done to squash the idea of working across the rural-urban divide on the county board.
Stay tuned to KWNOradio.com throughout the remainder of the week for more on the Winona County Board’s first meeting of the new year.