Messages from the Council Chair

Looking forward to a thoughtful debate

September 2020

Charlie ZelleWe’re in a quite a moment right now. We’re weathering a global pandemic, with significant economic impact on our region’s communities. We’re watching the impact of our shifting climate unfold as fires rage in the western states and storms batter the U.S. coastline. We’re feeling the power of community voices following the murder of George Floyd.

When the needs of communities shift, when experiences teach us a new approach, when voices compel us to change, we need to take stock and make plans to head in the right direction. It’s clear that the challenges we face as a region continue to transcend the resources of any one community, city, or county to tackle alone. And that the Met Council has a role in helping support the responses to these challenges.

That is why I’m excited that Governor Tim Walz has formed a Blue Ribbon Committee to examine the mission and work of the Metropolitan Council. For the past 50 years, the Minnesota Legislature has given the Met Council responsibilities that cross city limits and county lines: regional transit, housing, parks, treating wastewater, and planning for the orderly growth of our region.

By many measures, the Met Council’s work has been a great success, but we are always open to ways to do our work better.

The Governor’s Blue Ribbon Committee is taking a hard look at the Met Council. What works. What doesn’t. Where can we do better? The committee is a talented team of people who represent multiple regional perspectives: business, elected officials, nonprofits, and academia. They will step back and look at the big picture to consider what role the Met Council has played in the past, and then assess how it should move forward in the future. No idea is off the table.

The committee will specifically examine:

This isn’t just an academic exercise contemplating regional governance; this is meant to be a full-throated discussion of how the Met Council’s structure can support the success of the seven-county metro area and its people.

The committee plans to submit its findings to Governor Walz by the end of the year. I’m looking forward to a thoughtful, passionate debate about building a better region for generations to come.

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