Four officials from Grinnell’s “sister city” in Russia have been visiting Iowa this week, observing the way things work in city, county and state governments here. Sergey Tsvirkunov is the deputy chair of the Town Council in Zheleznovodsk. Tsvirkunov liked meeting with the council and seeing how it works. He says the set-up in Grinnell is very similar to what things are like back in his home in Russia.”The problems that the council here is trying to solve are a bit different (from) what we do back at home, but…we’re all working for the people,” he says. He was, though, really amazed by how closely the council and Grinnell city employees work together. Grinnell Mayor Gordon Canfield has been one of the hosts to the group of Russians. Canfield says Grinnell has a strong city manager form of government, so the city manager takes care of most operations and the city council provides advice and direction to that manager. By contrast, Grinnell’s Russian sister-city serves has a strong mayor form of government in which the elected officials hold more power. The Russian visitors attended the Grinnell City Council meeting this past week, and visited Montezuma, Des Moines and Iowa City as well. The trip was arranged by a group that has brought over eight-thousand Russians to America in the past five years to help the Russians see democracy in action.
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