OUR VIEW: Mitchell is no longer City of No
Mitchell has too often been a place where progressive ideas get rejected.
We don't have a complete, historical list of city ballot issue results, but we know the recent success rate for ballot issues was dismal prior to June 3.
Here's a quick summary of the city ballot issues we can recall over the last 10 years:
• 2005: Voters rejected, 53-47 percent, a public funding package of up to $5.8 million for a proposed convention center at what was then called the Holiday Inn and is now the Ramada.
• 2007: Voters rejected, 69-31 percent, a proposal to raise property taxes and build an arena along the state Highway 37 bypass.
• Also in 2007: Voters rejected, 51-49 percent, a proposal to lift the cap on the number of malt-beverage (beer) licenses in the city.
• 2010: Voters rejected, 56-44 percent, a proposal to allow Sunday off-sale liquor ("off-sale" means alcohol that is purchased and taken away to be consumed elsewhere).
• Also in 2010: Voters approved, 53-47 percent, an initiative to designate all the publicly owned land around Lake Mitchell as park land. (Though this one was approved, it arose from the public as an angry response to a City Council action; therefore, it could be considered another rejection.)
• 2011: Voters rejected, 66-34 percent, the proposed addition of a city manager to Mitchell's city government.
• 2012: Voters rejected, 63-37 percent, a proposal to switch three one-way streets to two-way traffic.
That's a lot of rejection. With such a poor record, it's obvious why nearly everyone we spoke to prior to June 3 thought the proposal to allow sidewalk wine service in the downtown district would be defeated. Even many supporters of the proposal were sure it was doomed.
But the wine proposal sailed to passage, supported by 60 percent of voters compared to 40 percent in opposition.
That's a solid victory. Does it mean something has changed in Mitchell? We're tempted to think so. Think of all the other progressive projects going on in Mitchell right now. We recently built a second ice rink and funded it with a higher tax on hotel rooms; we're adding on to the library; we're renovating the Corn Palace; and we're about to build a new City Hall. It just seems like the winds of positive change are in the air.
Or, maybe we're making too much of the recent election. Maybe all those previous ballot issues were just bad ideas, and a good one finally came along.
Whatever the reason, we're proud Mitchell voters have finally approved a progressive proposal. If we want to make our city better, we can't reject every idea that shows up on a ballot.