Minnesota is made up of 1,790 townships and represent a key piece of our state's history. The township model is a carryover from Europe but was used as Minnesota’s original form of government dating back to the Northwest Ordinance of 1787. Townships were originally plotted to represent 36 square miles but this has changed as cities have grown and areas have been annexed and merged. Despite these changes the democratic process and leadership shown at the township level are important. The work done at the township level has been described by the Association of Minnesota Counties as a way to experience democracy at its purest form.
The second Tuesday of March offers citizens the opportunity to participate in this grassroots form of democracy. Every township must hold an annual meeting on the second Tuesday, which in 2017 is March 14. The meeting will include election of one or more supervisors who serve a three year term. Even if you did not meet the filing time for township office, there is generally a write in line on all township ballots that allow a write-in candidate. The meeting will also include reports on various committees and a review of the audit. Township members that are present have the opportunity to ask questions on the reports and information shared as well as vote on the tax levy.
Participating in government at the township level is an opportunity every Minnesotan has to lead. Although many think townships are only in rural areas, townships are in urban centers as well. To find out what township you live in visit your county’s website or contact your county Auditor’s office. You can also find out the meeting location and time by checking your local newspaper. Each township is required to post this information for the public.
The Association of Minnesota Townships can help you learn more about the work done within townships and how to be involved. They also have a great resource to answer questions you may have about serving on your township board.
Photo credit: Association of Minnesota Townships Town Hall Gallery