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Launched in 2014 by journalist Sean Baker, Med City Beat is an independent news source covering government, business and culture in Rochester, Minnesota.

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What flag should fly in Rochester?

What flag should fly in Rochester?

Organizers of the Rochester Flag Project received a lukewarm response from the city council on Monday.

The volunteer-led group has spent the past two years facilitating a design contest to replace the current flag, which many describe as dated.

“We think the time for a new flag is now and we’ve really worked in the community to establish that,” the group told the council.

Shawn Fagan, a local photographer who worked on the flag project, noted that the current flag — which features local symbols, such as the Plummer and Mayo Buildings, as well as three flying Canadian Geese — is rarely used outside of City Hall. Pointing to iconic flags elsewhere, Fagan said Rochester deserves a flag that the community can rally around.

“Our community hasn’t embraced the flag that was brought out in the 80s,” said Fagan, who presented alongside Anastasia Folpe and Lee Herold.

 Rochester’s current flag, first introduced in 1980

Rochester’s current flag, first introduced in 1980

While council members appreciated the effort, not all agreed it was time to change the current flag. Some described it as “classic” and “retro.”

“Personally, I still like the old flag,” said Councilor Ed Hruska. “The work there is fine … I don’t see anything that would make me want to change.”

Other council members were more supportive. Councilors Michael Wojcik and Nick Campion said a lack of formal adoption by the city should not stand in the way of the community embracing it.

“It doesn't have to replace anything to be an awesome symbol for our community,” said Campion.

Councilor Mark Bilderback said he would like to let the public decide through a vote. Organizers of the project collected more than 2,000 votes for the contest, but Bilderback said he would like to collect a larger sample.

“My personal preference is to let the city decide,” he said.

Moving forward, the group will continue its grassroots approach to gaining support for their recommended flags. They have already reached out to some business owners interested in utilizing the designs.

The Rochester Flag Project was initiated at no cost to the city.

Flag design: Judge’s choice, “Past, Present and Future” by Matt Levar. The three stars depicted in the flag represent the city's founding, the 1883 tornado that give birth to Mayo Clinic, and the city's future.

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