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Bozeman city commissioners were fortunate in the wealth of talent found among those who applied to fill the recent vacancy on the commission. In the end, they were wise to select planning board member Jennifer Madgic. However, issues with the board’s makeup remain and should no longer be ignored.

Madgic’s experience in urban planning along with the perspective of longtime residency in the community will equip her well to help deal with the rapid growth the city is experiencing along with all the pains that go with that.

The appointment was certainly not without controversy. Critics were vocal in panning the choice of Madgic, especially in light of the widespread support for Christopher Coburn. Coburn is an experienced and accomplished young man. He holds a master’s degree in public health, serves on the City-County Board of Health and has been a volunteer board member of a number of area nonprofit organizations.

He is also Black, and the critics of Madgic’s appointment raise good points about the commission’s lack of diversity. It has long been dominated by white, middle-aged homeowners who don’t have the perspective of dealing with the communities challenging housing situation, onerous student loan debt and other disadvantages that plague so many trying to sink roots in Bozeman.

But in defense of Madgic’s appointment, women now constitute a majority of the commission for the first time in recent memory. But as the future unfolds, young people and people of color are strongly encouraged to continue to seek involvement in local government issues and consider running for office. The perspective of youth and minorities is a critical element in the formation of local policies.

What’s certain is this: Bozeman is growing and that growth is likely to accelerate in the coming years. Dealing effectively with growth – guiding it wisely so it doesn’t destroy the quality of life we all value – is essential to local government on all levels.

Given the urgency commissioners faced in filling the vacancy left by the resignation of Deputy Mayor Chris Mehl, Madgic was a smart choice and one who will contribute greatly to the planning challenges in our immediate future.

Madgic, newly appointed Deputy Mayor Terry Cunningham and all the commissioners are wished the best as they forge ahead.

(Some wording in this editorial has been changed to address inadvertent racist language. The Chronicle apologizes for any offense.)

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Editorial Board

  • Mark Dobie, publisher
  • Nick Ehli, managing editor
  • Bill Wilke, opinion page editor
  • Richard Broome, community member
  • Renee Gavin, community member
  • Will Swearingen, community member
  • Angie Wasia, community member

To send feedback on editorials, write to citydesk@dailychronicle.com.