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Minnesota City One Vote Away From a New Flag

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A flag design contest in Rochester attracted 159 entries.

The city of Rochester, Minnesota is one step closer to selecting a new design for its flag, courtesy of a contest that attracted 159 submissions from members of the public.

Two designs—the top choice selected by public voting and the most popular entry favored by a committee—will advance to the Rochester City Council, which will have final say on the winner.

Neither was designed by a resident of Rochester. The first, featuring a white goose on a divided green-and-blue background, came from Joe Uessem, a Germany resident who has never been to Rochester. But his girlfriend lived there once, according to his design statement.

"I, myself, am not from the city. My girlfriend though can’t stop talking about her old home," he said. "The misfortune that burnt down her family’s house and the possibility to start over again in Rochester are the most defining points of her life. The support that her family got from the good citizens of Rochester gave her strength to not lose hope."

The flag represents hope, support and love, Uessem wrote, and the geese "flies toward freedom."

"Geese and Rochester have a special connection, and whenever I see a Canada goose, I think of the city," he said. "I am sure that many people feel the same way about those beautiful animals."

The second design, featuring three white stars in a gold circle on a navy background, was submitted by Matt Levar, who does reside in Rochester—albeit the one in New York.

Levar said in a statement that the design is a modern representation of the city's current flag, "with the overt visuals replaced with meaningful symbols of the city's past, present and future." The gold ring encompasses the city, and the three stars represent the city's founding, the great tornado and the medical community that came from it, and the city's future.

Rochester's current flag was also the result of a design contest sponsored by the city back in 1980. The winner then was a first-year student at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design, according to MPR News, but the flag has since been declared one of the world's ugliest.

The Rochester City Council will most likely settle on a new flag next month. Browse all the entries here.

Kate Elizabeth Queram is a Staff Correspondent for Government Executive’s Route Fifty and is based in Washington, D.C.

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