The conversation arose at the Feb. 2 board meeting.
County commissioner Char Christenson met with Park Rapids and Nevis school boards to discuss the state’s 10-year review of the social studies curriculum. She has expressed concern about proposed changes to world and U.S. history, saying it watered down or eliminated key benchmarks and was a sign of “cancel culture.”
Initially, Christenson asked the county board to weigh in on the issue, but decided to pursue it individually.
County commissioner Dan Stacey said, “The only comment would say, on any particular thing, is we, as commissioners, need to be mindful, careful of whatever topic may be out there because they don’t look at ‘This is Dan Stacey.’ It’s ‘Dan Stacey the commissioner.’ Sometimes, then, it’s if Dan believes in it, then so do his fellow commissioners.”
Board chair David De La Hunt agreed, saying some county boards have developed policies “to make sure we stay grounded in topics directly related to the role of county government.”
Stacey countered it’s important for commissioners to be “transparent in our thoughts.”
County commissioner Tom Krueger said he wouldn’t want to tie the hands of a future board with a policy. “At the same time, we get partisan things from federal and state, and if there’s a majority vote of the board, why couldn’t they respond with some kind of resolution?”
De La Hunt said he’s interested in consistency, “instead of just going whichever way the political whims go, because county government really is nonpartisan, for the very most part. But you’re right, somebody could bring a partisan issue to this board and if we don’t act consistently over a period of time then we’re no different than a partisan entity.”
If the county has no business dealings with a particular issue, “why would we weigh in on it?” he asked.
Consensus was to allow a commissioner to briefly mention a politically charged topic, then the board decides whether or not to include it on the next meeting’s agenda. De La Hunt said, “So that way if it’s controversial stuff, there’s time for some thought to be put on it and the whole board weighs on whether it’s appropriate to be on the agenda and not just one commissioner.” He credited interim county administrator Kay Mack for the suggestion.