“Making democracy work” summarizes the goals of the League of Women Voters. Locally, the LWVNCF registered voters and sponsored five forums at the Northfield Senior Center in October.
The Defeat of Jesse James Days offers an excellent opportunity to register people new to the Northfield area, including college students. Neuger Communications gave permission for LWVNCF to set up a registration table in front of their business in the heart of DJJD action. Voters also had an opportunity to register at Riverwalk in downtown Northfield. In all, about 35 voters were registered or took forms to fill out, and many more promised to register online. Voter registration forms were distributed to qualifying students at the Cannon Falls High School.
On October 8, LWVNCF sponsored three forums: 1) Minnesota House of Representative candidates for District 20B and 58B; 2) Minnesota Senate Candidates for Districts 20 and 58; and 3) candidates for the Northfield School Board. Enid Weichselbaum, a LWV member from Rochester, conducted the first two forums. She is a trained and experienced moderator. Peter Bruno, a Senior at Carleton College moderated the School Board forum. He is one of several students from the two local colleges who took LWV moderator training.
Students from the American Conversations program at St. Olaf College assisted by serving as timers, greeters and question runners. Matt Rohn, their advisor, recruited the students and provided oversight and transportation. There were six student helpers for each forum.
Three of the four candidates vying for Minnesota House of Representative Districts 20B and 58B took part in the 9:00 AM forum. Attending were David Bly (D) and Aramis Wells (R) from District 20B and Marla Vagts (D), District 58B. Pat Garofalo (R) from District 58 declined the invitation.
The Senate forum followed at 10:30, proceeding with three candidates. (Note that LWVMN has changed forum rules, allowing the event to proceed even if not all candidates attend.) The participants were Rich Draheim (R) and Kevin Dahle (D) vying for Senate District 20 and Matt Little (D) candidate for Senate District 58. Tim Pitcher (R) from District 58 did not respond.
Candidates participating in the School Board candidate forum were Fritz Bogott, Amy Goerwitz, Rob Hardy, Ellen Iverson and Noel Stratmoen. Tom Baraniak was unable to attend.
On Saturday, October 22, forums for Northfield Mayor and City Council were held at the Northfield Senior Center, as were the October 8 forums. Kim Norton, Rochester LWV member, moderated the forums. She is also a trained and experienced moderator. Students from the American Conversations Program were again on hand to assist.
Beginning at 9:00 AM, Dana Graham and Rhonda Pownell, candidates for mayor, took the stage in front of a large audience.
Participating in the 10:30 forum for city council were Greg Colby and Brad Ness, at-large candidates; David DeLong and Jack Hoschouer vying for Ward 2 and Norman Butler and Erica Zweifel who are vying for the Ward 3 position.
There were many more questions from the audience than could possibly be answered, but Council decorum was a consistent theme as was long-range planning.
Our Trained, impartial Forum Moderators
Many of the forums may be viewed on line by going to the League of Women Voters Northfield-Cannon Falls website: