By Staff Reports
A former Waconia city council candidate has been appointed by Gov. Mark Dayton to the Governor’s Council on Developmental Disabilities.
McCourt ran for the Ward 2 city council seat in 2016, but lost to incumbent Charles Erickson. McCourt is a vocal advocate for people on the autism spectrum and those with developmental disabilities.
McCourt is one of 19 appointees to the council, announced by Dayton last week. According to the Minnesota secretary of state’s website, the council is tasked with ensuring people with developmental disabilities and their families receive the necessary supports/services to achieve increased independence, productivity, self-determination, integration and inclusion in the community. McCourt is himself on the spectrum.
McCourt states that he has an interest in probate law and wants to prioritize nurturing self-advocacy, creating effective and pertinent public policies and engaging individuals with disabilities in the civic process – including voter education and voter registration drives.
“There are roughly 57 million Americans with disabilities – which is about 19 percent of the population, making them one of the largest blocs of the American electorate,” McCourt said in a press release. “Those numbers continue to grow due in large part to veterans returning from conflicts abroad; and the fact that every 8 seconds, a member of the Baby Boomer generation turns 65. A third of America’s seniors have some form of disability.”
McCourt had some big-name support in his bid for a spot on the council – former U.S. Sen. David Durenberger wrote to the council on McCourt’s behalf.
“I met [McCourt] only recently, but have discovered he is that unique ‘what you see is what you get (and more) person that’s looked up to and sought out by those in the ‘power structure’ of his community to be wise beyond his years,” Durenberger wrote.
Durenberger also referenced McCourt’s appearance as part of a United Nations’ panel on World Autism Awareness Day earlier this year. Dureneberger sent a copy of a video of McCourt’s
address along with his letter of recommendation.
“I asked him to send me the attached video of his address to the UN on World Autism Awareness Day because it has a message that few can convey as well as he,” Durenberger wrote.
As part of McCourt’s duties on the council, he will be part of implementing the 5-year state plan to increase independence, productivity, self-determination and integration and inclusion of people with developmental disabilities and their families into the community; increasing public awareness and knowledge about developmental disabilities; providing, administering and evaluating federal grants based on the goals of the 5-year plan; and reviewing and commenting on federal and state plans, existing laws, proposed legislation and administrative regulations.
McCourt’s term on the council expires in January 2020.