Contributed by Katie Foley
The annual SD50 picnic took place on Wednesday, August 10. Mother Nature was more than accommodating - the temperature was in the upper sixties, a light breeze kept the mosquitoes at bay, and the clouds in the sky were more reminiscent of rabbit tails than rain.
The result of perfect weather and well executed marketing meant that around 110 people showed up to Kordiak Park to enjoy some good food and great political engagement. In attendance were Congresswoman Betty McCullum, Secretary of State Mark Ritchie, Kathy Olson on behalf of State Senator Barb Goodwin, State Representatives Kate Knuth and Carolyn Laine, Congressional District 4 Chair J.P. Barone, Senate District Chair Bill Krueger, candidate for New Brighton City Council Graeme Allen, and representatives from the Minnesota Health Plan and Amy Klobaucher Re-election campaign.
I thought that though all of our civil servants gave fantastic speeches, Mark Ritchie’s was the one that really hit home. He mentioned that in 2008, 2.92 million people voted in Minnesota (“I know, I counted…”). Two years later, during the 2010 gubernatorial and midterm elections, there were 800,000 fewer ballots cast. He argued that in order to ensure DFL/Democratic victories in 2012 we need to make sure those 800,000 voters show up to the polls.
According to Mr. Ritchie, somewhere between 30,000-40,000 Minnesotans turn 18 every year, so we need to make sure they are engaged in the political process. He also mentioned that new residents and new citizens might need us to help them understand the intricacies of Minnesota's political process, the caucus system in particular. I think he had a salient point. We need to identify those who could benefit from our experience and help them become engaged. There should be campaign issues that reflect the concerns of today's youth, giving them a stake in the process and encouraging them to exercise their fundamental right to vote. History shows that if we can get 800,000 more people to the polls it is likely they'll vote Democratic.
Betty McCullum remains as fierce an advocate for liberal issues as ever. Carolyn Laine assured us that though she is not 100% recovered from her horrible reaction to a prescribed medication, she is “fine” and appeared ready to get back in the proverbial saddle on behalf of her constituents. Kate Knuth candidly stated that it was an incredibly difficult session, but that she was very encouraged by the energy that appeared in the form of Wisconsin Solidarity demonstrations and protests to the upcoming Amendment vote that could Constitutionalize discrimination in Minnesota by defining marriage as a fundamental right that only applies to some couples.
J.P. Barone was as entertaining as we’ve come to expect. He mentioned that the Special Redistricting Panel created by the Minnesota Supreme Court is required to have its final decision regarding the redistricting plan ready by noon on February 21, 2012. To that end, Mr. Barone wanted to remind us that though we will soon be surrounded by new faces in our new districts, we are still part of the same family. This is a cheesy metaphor, perhaps, but apropos nonetheless. We need to remember that we have a lot to fight for in the upcoming elections. We cannot let our insecurities and/or old habits interfere with the job that needs to be done. Or, as J.P. stated, we need to remember to use the best ideas from everyone, regardless of whether they reflect how we’ve “typically” done things. He also *finally* presented SD50 Chair Bill Krueger with the plaque commemorating his receipt of the Distinguished Party Service Award which was given to him at the Bruce Vento dinner back in October of 2010.
Though Senator Barb Goodwin was unable to make it, she sent her regards through Kathy Olson. Graeme Allen spoke about his upcoming bid for a seat on the New Brighton City Council. One of the things he spoke of is the conservatives that have lately infiltrated the City Council. He stated that though they speak out against state workers and have caused to be laid off many city employees, they voted to have the city provide them with health insurance. As Mr. Allen pointed out, this is supposed to be a public service thing, “we don’t need to give ourselves health care.” Though it is this blogger’s belief that Mr. Allen needs to embrace the political practice of kissing babies, I look forward to helping him on his campaign and would like to encourage others to do as well.
SD50 Central Committee member Todd Olin mentioned an upcoming Habitat for Humanity event taking place in our district on Saturday, November 5. He will be providing more details in the future which I will happily pass on to anyone interested. And finally, thanks are due to Steve, Deb, Val, Rick, Kathy, Betty, Mildred, Jim and Kristen Hopwood, Graeme, Jered, and anybody I've accidentally omitted, whether you're a member of the planning committee or you helped set-up and/or tear-down. Without volunteers we are nothing but ideas without action, so thank you for showing up and giving yourselves to the cause!
GRAEME ALLEN FOR NEW BRIGHTON CITY COUNCIL! J