As any governmental unit looks to its future, there will often be difficult decisions that need to be made.

When looking at leadership, one needs to ask, ‘Do the leaders demonstrate the courage to make difficult decisions that may not be popular to some and maybe many, that stand in the best interest of the entire community?’

You may see little willingness to address needed subjects, because the courage doesn’t exist to tackle challenging issues.

Some leaders may play to the crowd with their decision, and appease those registering their dismay, even though that decision isn’t in the best interest of the masses.

Some may see which way the wind of support is blowing and simply decide not to support the greater good. Maybe their thinking is blurred by their own personal bias and that gets in the way of the best decision for all.

The bottom line is real leadership requires the courage to make difficult decisions that may not be popular, but they are the right thing to do for the community.

What does help to address this is having a clear vision of the future, along with core organizational or community values. Decisions can be guided by clear vision and values because decisions need to align to them.

In the public world, long-term planning has not yet been universally embraced, so it’s not become a way of doing business, which is unfortunate.


I’ve had this discussion of the “Courage to Lead” many times with Mike Webb at his coffee shop, Dunn Brothers, in downtown Chaska.

When Mike was mayor of Carver, he provided leadership for the Carver City Council and the city, that stood up to fierce opposition that often was disgustingly critical via social media of an affordable housing project.

Mike and the City Council stood up to that harsh criticism and did what was in the best interest of the city.

It would have been easy to find a reason to not support the project, but they came to the conclusion that it was a good and needed project for their community and they demonstrated the courage required of good leadership.

Mike has gone on to speak to groups about that experience and what it takes to make such difficult decisions in the face of such strong and negative opposition.

A person that teaches at the Humphrey Institute at the University of Minnesota shared some similar stories and said it has created a leadership crisis on the public side. People look at the time it takes to serve, and how people can get the heck kicked out of them. Then they come to the conclusion that life is too short and ask, ‘Why would I do that?’


Awhile back the League of Women Voters of Eastern Carver County did a study on civility in public life. Civility simply has to be a requirement of doing the public’s business at any level.

It’s a non-negotiable. When one enters a public chamber, that respect is provided to each and every person. Respect is required from citizen to council/commissioners/representatives, and vice versa, as business and process is addressed.

In fact, respect for others is a core community value. I’ve seen the lack of that on both sides and it’s unfortunate and not in anyone’s best interest when that happens.

We all must stand up for that respect for each other, whether we are citizens in the process or elected officials, and actively require such actions and behaviors.


Representative governance says we elect people to serve the best interests of those they represent. Representative governance trusts elected officials will study the issues and proposals and make decision that stand in the best interests of all.

If citizens don’t like those decisions, they can vote at the next election to make changes.

That is how representative government works. What is important is that people watch and know when decisions for the greater good are being made and when they are not.

Bob Roepke is a former Chaska mayor.

Community Editor

Mark Olson, the Chaska and Chanhassen community editor who has worked in Carver County for 20 years, makes any excuse to write about local history. In his spare time, Mark enjoys perusing old books, watching blockbusters and taking Midwest road trips.


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