To the editor:
The place where I grew up, Dodge City, Kan., was a media spectacle this election cycle. Even as disgusting as that scene was, I doubt that many people know how messed up that story and place is.
In the 1950s, when I was a kid, Dodge City had a lively downtown and it was a community to be proud of. In 1957, my father coached an integrated basketball team to the state championship tournament. Our middle-class neighborhood was black, brown, and white. There were several manufacturing companies in the city and wheat farms surrounded the city.
The '60s began with a highway bypass enticing white migration to the northedge of town. The first big box store opened near the bypass and several million dollar churches moved away from the center of the city. By the '70s, downtown was dead. Interstate 70 bypassed southwest Kansas and tourism dried up with dwindling U.S. 50/56 traffic. The new schools, big box and fast food development, and city investment were all built at the far northwestern edge of the city.
When I left in 1967, Dodge had a population of about 20,000 and, today, it's around 27,000 - 59 percent of the city is Hispanic, mostly located in south Dodge.
Today, Dodge is surrounded and infiltrated by feedlots, an ammonia plant, packing and processing plants, and, no matter from which direction it comes, all breezes are "ill winds." Respiratory disease statistics resemble those of coal and oil communities. City tap water smells not-that-slightly of animal waste.
The single area election polling place was in the Civic Auditorium, but for the 2018 election the city decided to move its one polling place to the far south end of town. Honestly, that location was more inconvenient to the white population than the Hispanic residents, regardless of the media hoopla.
What I was highlighted for me, from Dodge's election media attention, was that Red Wing and the nearby area had eight polling places for substantially fewer voters. Our local election system is staffed by volunteers and between our convenient early voting system and well-placed and plentiful polling places, we have an election system we can be proud of.
We should pause for a moment and just enjoy one of the benefits of living in Minnesota. Then, go back to work making our state government more just,equitable, accessible, and representative.