MINOT, N.D. (KXNET) — The Minot City Council chambers were once again filled with neighbors waiting to express their opinions on the Human Relations Committee ordinance. But many were disappointed after the council took action to again, postpone a vote, due to two council members being absent.
The Human Relations Committee isn’t new to Minot but has been inactive for decades. Its purpose is to identify discrimination and figure out ways to make the city more diverse and inclusive, then report back to the council and recommend if city ordinances need to change.
The reinstatement of the committee was a motion moved by Alderwoman Carrie Evans, who was originally at the council meeting Monday but ended up leaving, and it’s unclear as to the reason why.
“I’m troubled by the fact Alderwoman Evans isn’t here. Do we know anything if she’s going to be joining us by audio or in person,” asked Councilman Steve Podrygula.
“She was here earlier and left,” replied Minot Mayor, Tom Ross.
“Um, I feel uncomfortable,” said Podrygula. “It was her motion; she deserves to be here and listen to what people have to say. I would very much favor us continuing the sense of hearing the testimony of people but I’m terribly uncomfortable taking a vote without her here. She should be able to speak in its defense.”
This, along with the absence of Councilman Paul Pitner, sparked the council to postpone the vote, but they still decided to hear what neighbors had to say.
Many speakers were upset with the LGBTQ+ portion of the committee’s obligations. Others say the way the committee names different diverse groups is discriminatory in itself. And some feel the committee is confusing, asking what prompted the reactivating of it.
“The purpose reinstatement of the Human Relations Committee with its proposed expanded mission regarding anti-discrimination, is completely unnecessary,” said the Chairman of the Republican Party for District 3, Greg Demme. “Numerous federal and state laws on the books already protect people from actual discrimination.”
“If the city council ventures down to the path of affirmation and avouchment, please know you have ventured outside your lane of public safety, and public works, and into the realm of ethics; to the realm of philosophy, and theology,” said Dr. Matthew Richard, a resident and pastor in Minot.
A motion was moved to table the vote until the entire council is present at a meeting. It’s not clear when that will be.