How to apply for the Rochester Charter Commission.

I figured that I should put all this information in one place because it honestly took me more than a week to get some simple questions answered. The Charter Commission is not a joke, but the appointment process had been. I wrote up some suggestions to 3rd District Judge Jodi Williamson and sent them off. You can read my letter here.

So who appoints people to the Charter Commission?

It is the chief judge of the third judicial district that makes the appointments.  That is now Jodi L. Williamson who is on the bench in Dodge County.  We have six terms expiring at the end of this year.  I am in the process of sending a letter to Judge Williamson asking her to make appointments for terms from 2019 to 2023.  This will be her first time making appointments so I am not exactly sure how she will want to proceed.  Judge Thompson, who was the chief judge for many years, had this office advertise vacancies on the City’s web-site and then collect applications through the mayor’s office.  I would then forward them to him.  He also re-appointed those members who wished to remain on the commission.  Four of the six members have expressed a desire to be re-appointed.  But that is entirely up to Judge Williamson.  Citizens wishing to be considered can contact the Judge directly or they can wait and see what her response will be to my letter.  I can follow up with you after I receive a response.

Dave Goslee, Rochester Assistant City Attorney

This begs the question how does one contact the Judge. I looked everywhere and could not find a way send Judge Williamson an email. Once again Dave helped me out.

The Judge has asked that all contacts concerning the charter commission go through her court reporter at the following email address:

Lane.knutson2@courts.state.mn.us

Dave Goslee, Rochester Assistant City Attorney

I recommend you just send a letter of interest to Ms. Knutson. I recommend that you do NOT engage with the awful website and process. I am confident that Mayor Norton and the new council will quickly kill off this legacy dinosaur.

Also thank you to current Charter Commission Member Kathy Meyerle for sending me a link to the state statutes regarding Charter Commissions.

3 comments

  1. a 15 member panel that has basically been working on cleaning up a 120 page document since at least 1985? ridiculous entity.

  2. I respectfully differ with m thomas on the utility of the Charter Commission. Rochester has been a home rule charter city since 1904 when voters elected to create the charter. The Charter Commission is established and operates under Minnesota Statutes Chapter 410 as do the commissions in other Minnesota cities. [https://www.revisor.mn.gov/statutes/cite/410/full] The commission performs an important function as one of three mechanisms to amend Rochester’s Charter. The commission can recommend a charter amendment to the City Council. If approved by all council members, the charter can be amended. For changes initiated by commission members or requested by members of the public or departments of the City this is an efficient way to amend the charter as the other two methods of amending the charter (voter petition or council proposal) require submission of the question to voters at a general or special election. Not all issues brought to the commission are forwarded, either because the commission does not believe the proponents presented a compelling case or the commission has received communication indicating there is not unanimity on the council and the proposal would be defeated. A recent example has been a proposal for Rochester to adopt rank choice voting. Whether one agrees with the commission decision or not, the commission is an important component of Rochester’s system of government. If you are interested in good government and willing to put in the time to understand the issues, please apply.

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