Brothers: Civic duty primary motivationPublished 11:21am Monday, September 17, 2012
Since Daryl Synstelien decided in July to run for mayor of Fergus Falls, he and his brothers Randy and Stan have heard the jokes. They’ve chuckled at talk of a Synstelien voting bloc, smiled at questions of family reunion quorums and laughed at jests about political dynasties.
But every now and then, someone shows serious concern about Daryl being mayor while Randy and Stan are council members, and to Daryl, that’s no laughing matter. He believes it speaks to a fundamental mistrust of the dealings of city government.
“That (feeling of) collusion is concerning, and I understand that,” he said. “I understand that when you feel as if a person isn’t being transparent about their motivation … it’s hard to trust them as an elected official.”
In his opinion, that mistrust of local government is not entirely unfounded. He said voters sometimes have had reason to believe that city leaders were not telling them the whole story.
“I think the voters have been harmed in the past,” he said.
It’s an occurrence he doesn’t want to see happen again, and he said voters don’t have to worry about him conniving “behind the scenes” with Stan and Randy.
“I’ve worked to be very transparent,” he said. “I don’t think there would be anyone who would be surprised by positions I take.”
Though he wasn’t a part of city government during the debate over building a new ice arena, Daryl was heavily involved as a citizen, criticizing the city council’s handling of the process and circulating a petition to get the council to put the arena up for a referendum. Though the petition got enough signatures, it died in a legal challenge.
Stan acknowledged that the brothers do share conservative political views but added that he sees Randy more inside the council chamber than he does outside it – leaving very little time for secret meetings to align their votes.
“I understand where (people) are coming from, and yet … we are completely separate individuals and there isn’t any trying to come to an agreement or anything in the family.”
“There have been occasions where we’ve voted differently,” he said of Stan. “It’s certainly not a ‘thinking as one mind’ (thing) there because we are different people.”
In June 2011, six months after Stan joined the council, the brothers voted differently on a high profile arena expenditure decision. Randy voted against backing expected fundraising dollars with more taxpayer money, and Stan voted in favor of doing so.
Daryl said that complaints of a voting bloc are additionally concerning because as mayor, he would only vote in case of a tie, something he believes most people who follow city government should know.
“That tells me that someone has fed them misinformation,” he said. “Someone has told them that they can be fearful about three members of the council always voting the same way, and that’s misinformation.”
Calling his reasons for running “straightforward,” Daryl said if he’s elected, he would strive to act more as a facilitator than as a voter without a vote.
“The mayor’s role is to facilitate a good discussion and a viewing of all sides of an issue in a council meeting – to encourage council members to work toward a good and beneficial conclusion,” he said.