Credit goes to the citizens of Peosta for making sure the decision of choosing a mayor remains were it should be: In the hands of the people.

After a contentious meeting last week in which council members voted, 3-2, to appoint someone to fill a vacancy created by Mayor Larry Mescher’s departure in late October, Peosta residents didn’t have much time to call for a special election.

As it turns out, they didn’t need much.

The valid signatures of 45 Peosta voting-age residents were needed for the special election to be ordered. In a matter of six days, residents turned in a petition with three times that many names.

Perhaps that serves as an exclamation point on their statement that the citizens should select who serves as mayor. As one citizen who helped gather signatures put it, “I felt like the mayor needs to serve at the pleasure of the people.”

It will serve residents well to stay engaged as the council navigates challenges and deals with division regarding the city’s direction. One such heated meeting led to Mescher’s resignation — which he later tried to rescind, but was accepted by the council, just the same. Getting past these choppy waters and finding a clear direction forward will benefit from more input by engaged constituents.

Council members would do well to listen to the people they represent. Peosta residents have found their voices.

For years it has seemed that Wisconsin officials have not taken drunken driving offenses as seriously as other states.

It remains the only state that has not found a way to criminalize first-offense drunken driving. In Wisconsin — home of the Brewers and the almighty Tavern League — a driver tagged for operating while intoxicated receives only a garden-variety citation — a traffic ticket.

It’s not uncommon to see reports of sixth-, seventh- and even 10th-offense drunken driving in Wisconsin.

A U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention survey showed 1 in 4 from the Badger State admitted to binge drinking at least once in the prior month, the second-highest rate in the nation. And more than 3% acknowledged getting behind the wheel while drunk.

That’s why a new program in Lafayette County sounds like a positive step for the state. The county has been awarded funding for a court that will provide intensive services for offenders who commit operating-while-intoxicated offenses linked to alcohol or drug abuse.

The OWI court will provide the county’s court system with the option to offer nonviolent offenders with a third or subsequent OWI offense a treatment and diversion alternative to jail or prison confinement.

It’s worth a try. Sheriff Reg Gill acknowledged that the threat of incarceration doesn’t seem to be having the effect that it’s supposed to.

This program — much like successful drug court programs — provides a new approach to help make a change in people’s lives. Treatment and diversion programs can improve outcomes for

people with substance-use disorders, save taxpayer dollars by

decreasing incarceration, treat underlying problems that might have influenced the committing of a crime and prevent future criminal activity.

Here’s hoping OWI court can do all those things and set an

example on taking seriously the state’s drunken driving problem.

The Dubuque Racing Association made some solid choices that will benefit the entire community in choosing the first recipients of a new grant program designed to fund special projects.

The Dubuque Dream Center and the Dubuque Museum of Art will each net $150,000 to improve on their facilities. For the Dream Center, that means improving access for people with disabilities. At the museum, money will go toward an expansion of its downtown location.

Both projects have the potential to make a big impact at a local entity that already serves the community well.

For decades, the DRA has plowed gambling dollars back into the tri-state community through grants to area nonprofits. Nearly

every nonprofit around can point to some purchase the DRA helped with. Now, these special project grants continue that legacy by allowing the DRA support to facilitate real change and growth.

Congratulations to the DRA for this game-changing approach and to the local recipients who will no doubt put the money to good use.

Editorials reflect the consensus of the Telegraph Herald Editorial Board

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