By Jack Reuler, Minneapolis, MN

While my family has lived in Minneapolis for five generations, since the 1880s, Alexandria is my adopted home. I love the people, the lakes and vistas, the homes, the commerce, the culture, the relationships people have forged with me and I with them. My most valued relationships in 6-1/2 decades on earth are with the denizens of Alec. 2020 marked my 40th summer in this great Midwestern burgh.

But 2020 has been hard on my heart. I questioned the sincerity of that interpersonal love because of the divide that politics caused. As a vulnerable adult, because of age, I came to appreciate the isolation necessitated by coronavirus. People were afraid to express their political candidates’ support in fear of retaliation, whether via vandalized homes or boycotted businesses. In Minneapolis I live 10 blocks from the intersection at which George Floyd died, yet the only people I know who carry pistols for protection are in Douglas County. My first cousin died in the first month of the pandemic, yet the perception of political alliance seemingly prohibited my friends from social distancing and mask wearing. My friends and family who are not white wouldn’t even consider visiting Alexandria in 2020, using COVID-19 as their articulated excuse.

I write this in the days between voting day and the determination of the outcome of that vote. I write this to reach out to any citizen of our fair city of Alexandria to befriend you and hope you will befriend me. It is not our differences that divide us. It is our inability to recognize, accept, and celebrate those differences.

If you have assumptions about people with differing worldviews than your own, please spend time with me. I will only represent myself as me and not the embodiment of liberal America, but I care about you, your city, your happiness and well being, and your success in life. I do not wake up to see the world as blue or red, but believe that bringing together people with difference allows us all to be better off for having convened.

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The generosity of spirit, time, and belongings of the people of Alexandria has defined my adoration of Central Minnesota. I believe that 2020 was a blip on the chart and not the revelation of that which I had not noticed before. Let me take you for a pontoon ride when summer returns. How about a walk or bike ride? I have a comfortable convertible into which you are invited. Putt-putt at Casey’s? The we-we Alexandria that I know and love became an us-them village this year. For so many reasons, I yearn for 2021.