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Thanks for taking those thankless jobs

Detroit Lakes Newspapers columnist Lynn Hummel recently published his fourth book, "The Last Word," a collection of some of his favorite columns from the past 40 years.

I see in the paper that this is the time for candidates to file for city council and school board elections. Every two years about this time, we need volunteers to step up to the plate to do what good citizens do for their cities, counties, townships and school districts — put their names on the ballot and run the risk of losing at election time. Who wants to lose? Or is it the risk of winning that is intimidating?

Is self-government really necessary? It is absolutely essential. Take the smallest city in North Dakota, little Ruso in my home county of McLean, for example. Until last month, Ruso had three residents. The oldest of these, Bruce Lorenz, 86, was mayor. Lorenz had been mayor for over 30 years and was just re-elected with 100 percent of the votes in June on a platform of getting rural water service to Ruso.

Also elected to the city council by a 3-0 margin was Terry Roloson, 75. Can you imagine the city council meetings? Then, a month late, Lorenz died. The result is that Ruso now fails to have the minimum required population of three and will cease to be an incorporated municipality in North Dakota, as soon as the system decertifies it. So, you see, self-government is absolutely essential.

Nobody wants all the decisions about how we run our counties, cities (the news reports on the Ruso situation called Ruso a "hamlet"), towns, townships and school districts to be made in Washington D.C. or the state capital, so we elect our own friends and neighbors to make these decisions. And the elected boards appoint committees to handle some of the details. Again, those committee members are local folks.

People don't run for those offices because they enjoy going to meetings. They don't run because they expect to be loved, or even appreciated. They don't expect everybody to agree with them. They don't expect their business will benefit from their popularity. The job will take time and study, may cause not only disagreement, but hostility, suspicion and even contempt.

They step up because they want a better community, better schools, a better place to raise children (and have those children return again as adults). As a result, they respond out of a sense of duty, a sense of responsibility, and pride in where they live. Somebody has to have the nerve of courage to make the decision and do the job, or like Ruso or Russia, somebody else will make the decisions.

Those who consent to do these unpopular jobs are our leaders. We ought to encourage, respect and support them, but not be afraid to offer our opinions, advice and criticism when appropriate.