In his 27 years as the 4th District Hennepin County commissioner, Peter McLaughlin for the first time failed to receive the DFL Endorsement.

Could this mean it might finally be time after more than 2.5 decades for someone else to serve in this major position of influence and power.

It is not my intent to characterize Mclaughlin as a bad guy. McLaughlin in fact has accomplished much in his 27 years as 4th district Hennepin County commissioner. 

But does that mean I think he should hold another four-year term as Hennepin County Commissioner? Personally, I find the notion of a system that rewards accomplished politicians with near-lifetime jobs to be a rather undesirable practice. 

McLaughlin, you may recall prior to becoming a commissioner, served three terms in the Minnesota State Legislature. Oh, and then there was the time McLaughlin while serving as Hennepin County commissioner ran though unsuccessfully for Minneapolis mayor against R. T. Rybak. Clearly he is a committed lifer when it comes to community service.

That being said, I believe after 27 years we cannot deny the need for progressive change. Change is a normal political function and given today’s political climate change has become a necessity of our times.

Newcomers like Angela Conley running for office may not have big purse strings or long-standing connections; they in fact bring a different type of capital – a strong, passionate and fresh perspective that address issues directly facing their communities. A perspective infused with new ideas, new voices and new ways of tackling issues pertaining to the environment, safety, affordable housing, social justice, transportation, education, equity, the economy and job growth.

Change is the catalyst that accelerates transition bringing forth a fresh perspective. Conley has the passion, capacity as well as the tools in her tool box to bring forth long awaited change.

As well, I think it’s about time Hennepin County commissioners should both physically and ideologically reflect the 4th District’s changing demographics brought on by the new growth in generational, gender, race, ethnic and religious diversity. Now is not the time to continue down the path well traveled, it’s time to change priorities, it’s time to design new policies that will shape needed reforms. 

Speaking of reforms- if today Hennepin County commissioners had term limits it could prevent commissioners from being re-elected past their time. Voters would no longer have to choose between the commissioner that represents the past or the one that can impact change for the present and for our children’s/grandchildren’s future.  

Think of it; commissioners could actually make necessary decisions without fear of retribution at the polls. Reform can be good.

Should you choose change over longevity as I have; no need to feel badly about McLaughlin. If his history of professional public service is any indication of his future, he will without doubt find new ways to contribute to our community.  

Tomorrow’s future belongs to those who prepare for it today. Change.

Roxanne Givens is a sixth-generation African-American Minnesotan and a founder and funder of Minnesota African American Museum and the Archie Givens Collection of African American Literature at the University of Minnesota.

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