Category Archives: Meetings

Recap of Republican Sen. Dave Thompson’s first town hall meeting

Attendance was low at the first local town hall meeting organized by Senate District 36 state Senator Dave Thompson.  Less than ten people showed up at Farmington High School for the meeting, including the Senator, his legislative aide and local journalist Derrick Williams.  Among the remaining attendees was Farmington School Board Vice Chair, and active Republican Party member Brian Treakle, leaving just a handful of unaffiliated constituents.

It isn’t uncommon for such a low turnout at a meeting like this in a place like Senate District 36.  This is a safe Republican district with a low voter activist level on either side.  Republicans in the area feel safe and Democrats feel secluded.  However, it is surprising that Sen. Thompson didn’t organize a couple more local supporters to attend, at least for photos.  I’m sure that will change in the future.

Despite being as he described it, a “small “L” libertarian, which I can only assume means he believes not in the Libertarian Party, but the political philosophy that seeks to eliminate all but the most basic laws protecting people from being physically harmed and having their property stolen, Sen. Thompson contradicted himself on couple of “small ‘L’ libertarian” points.

While he stated he was against the Department of Education and the smoking ban (libertarian speak for shrink government bureaucracy and let people choose to make their own bad decisions,) he also stated he is against letting people make their own choice as to who they marry, and against the public being allowed to make their own bad decision to gamble here in Minnesota.  (I’m sure Gamblin’ Pat Garofalo (House 36B-R) and him don’t see eye-to-eye on that.)

He talked about the negative social impact of gambling being important, while hypocritically ignoring the social impact the smoking ban has in protecting the health of the majority of people (including children) who don’t smoke. 

Can you believe the hypocrisy in that simple idea that gambling has a negative social impact on our community while ignoring that smoking does too?  Or worse yet, the hypocrisy that he is concerned at all about any negative social impact when he is more concerned about keeping the wealthiest Minnesotans at their current income level than the social impact cutting medical, employment and basic aide items from the budget would have on children, low income families, single mothers and people with disabilities and their families. 

It might lead one to believe that a negative social impact isn’t the important aspect of his concern at all.  The contradictions are evident in his actions in the Senate.  So what’s the deal with the hypocrisy?  Ego?  Bigger political plans?  Warped sense of humor?  What?

Senator Dave Thompson is up for reelection in 2012, along with the entire Minnesota legislature. 

In 2012, let’s correct the mistakes we made in 2010.

Crossposted by Steve Quist at the DFL SD36 Website

A Lack of Competition in the DFL Leadership Races

In a little over a month I will have the honor to represent Senate District 36 in the decision to select new leadership for the DFL party.  Being involved in a decision like this is exactly why I wanted to get involved with the party.  I wanted to have an impact on the direction and the concentration of the DFL.  So it is a little disappointing that there are so few candidates stepping forward to fill leadership roles.

There are five positions that the DFL State Central Committee will be voting for in Cokato on February 5th: Chair, Associate Chair, Secretary, Treasurer and the Affirmative Action Officer.  To date, only one current office holder is seeking reelection, Affirmative Action Officer Frank Brown.  That means we will be electing new people to at least four of the five seats.  The problem is, only the Secretary position has multiple candidates.

The lack of candidates may be the norm.  This is my first year on the State Central Committee (SCC) so I am unsure of the history surrounding previous elections.  I do know that the recent Republican Chair race involved at least three candidates, and the 2005 DFL race involved three candidates.  I’m not sure what to think about an uncontested race.

Ken Martin (SD38) is the only candidate I know of to replace out-going chair Brian Melendez.  Ken is running with Marge Hoffa (SD42) for Associate Chair.  Chances are I would have supported Ken and Marge anyway, but I do wish there were other candidates.  Ken has a website, a Facebook page and a Twitter feed.  I don’t know Ken, but I have heard good things from other people and bloggers, so I won’t be too worried if he gets the nod even without competition.

Tom Hamilton (SD51) is the only candidate for Treasurer that I am aware of.  Tom is currently the treasurer in the 5th Congressional District.  He made an announcement on the State Central Committee Yahoo group page on December 13th and started a Facebook fan page soon after.  A few people have asked him questions via the Yahoo group page, but without competition, there has been very little discourse.

The one race that is competitive has been interesting.  The race for Secretary has two candidates.  Vanessa Blomgren (SD44) and Jacob Grippen (SD31).  Vanessa and Jacob both have websites and both have a good presence on Facebook.  Additionally Vanessa has a Twitter feed.  The technology aspect makes sense since both candidates are in their mid-twenties, but Vanessa also has already contacted me the old fashioned way seeking support, by phone… Yeah, I know there are more old fashioned ways, like mail, but I was born in the 1970’s, the phone is old fashioned.  But the most interesting part of this race is the challenge thrown out by veteran DFLer Jules Goldstein.  Jules challenged each candidate to watch the first hours of the 2010 DFL State Convention on the Uptake’s website and prepare secretary notes.   Today I read each set of notes that were posted by the candidates on the Yahoo Groups page.  Vanessa’s sample notes were concise and simple.  Jacob’s notes were much more detailed.  My preference was Vanessa’s sample, but I think a lot of voters will like the details in Jacob’s sample.

I enjoy the competition going on between the secretary candidates.  I would like to see additional competition for the other candidates.  In the meantime, a blog post to start a discussion is the best thing I can do.  We’ll see what happens on February 5th.

The Big Problem In “Conservative” Senate Districts

I see a big problem here in Senate District 36, and I think it probably applies to other “conservative” senate districts.  People have bought into the myth that Democrats don’t live here.  People are letting that idea influence what they do and how they act when it comes to politics and social justice.  People are afraid to act as individuals or fearful of being “outed” as a liberal to their conservative neighbors. 

The problem with that is that we are letting the conservatives tighten their grip on our district.  Every time a conservative political leader in our community makes an outrageous partisan comment and we let it go unchecked, an independent voter accepts it as reasonable.  Every time a Republican sign goes up in a neighborhood and we don’t counter it with a Democratic sign, an independent voter takes that as an indication of who to vote for.  Every time a donation is made to a Republican candidate, and a donation is not made to the Democratic candidate, an independent voter is hit with unmatched propaganda.

But I am here to tell you that there are Democrats in our district.  13,686 people voted for me, the DFL candidate for Minnesota Senate in District 36.  That is a lot of people!  True, it wasn’t nearly enough to win, but what if we could have gotten our message out to a couple thousand more people?  What if all the Democrats had voted?  What if 10 more people had door knocked?  What if we could have afforded 100 more signs?  There are 50 more things we could have done, and what if it all happened in a year that wasn’t a “wave” election year?  There is no reason to believe we could not have swayed a few thousand independent voters, after all, all those voters are not Republicans.

Districts like Senate District 36 are not unwinnable, they are just challenging.  It might take years to challenge the political status quo, but we can change it.  To do it, we all need to take a role in the transformation.   We are Democrats, and a democracy works best when everybody participates.  So take an active role over the next two year, and let’s work to change the attitude in this district.

I know it can be a pain to volunteer for a couple hours.  I know that the never-ending phone calls at election time are annoying.  I know that money might be too tight to donate.  I know that neighbor down the block might quit talking to you because of your sign.  But accept it as part of the price we need to pay for better schools, more jobs, a little more social justice and a brighter future.

Take the next step and be a part of the transformation.  The Senate District 36 DFL is holding a meeting at the Lakeville Heritage Library, Thursday, December 9, 2010, at 6:30 PM.  Show up, be a part of the democracy and make a difference.

CD2 Central Committee Meeting – June 8, 2010

What a DFL meeting in CD2 tonight!  About sixty people showed up for the DFL CD2 Central Committee Meeting at Burnhaven Library.  And the best part was that there were eight people from Senate District 36!!  Including two new members elected tonight to the CD2 Executive Committee, Jerry Klebs who was elected a CD2 Director, and Kevin Roberson who was elected to be the male Affirmative Action Delegate from CD2 to the state DFL commission.

Jerry has been involved in the party for a long time, and Kevin is a young man, not long out of college with a lot of great ideas just getting active.  Also at the meeting were all four male State Central Committee delegates and alternates, Charlie, Jerry, Rodd and myself.  As well as female State Central Committee delegate and great blogger, actually, multi-blog blogger  Holly Cairnes.  Candidate for House District 36A Colin Lee and CD2 Chair Jeanne Thomas rounded out the delegation from SD36.  It was very energizing to have so many SD36 people in attendance.

There were several candidates at the meeting.  Dan Powers, the DFL candidate for congress challenging John Kline.  Travis Burton and I were the only two candidates for Minnesota Senate, but Will Morgan (40A) gave a great campaign speech, Mick McGuire (25A), Colin Lee (36A) and Dave Page (57B) all spoke.  The best speech award goes to Travis Burton tonight.

Highlighting a couple of events discussed at the meeting:

The big CD2 golf fundraiser is August 1, only 233 people get in, and only 60 golfers, so make your reservations now.  It is a very affordable day of golf, great food and great discussions.  I’m going to talk to Charlie Thomas about putting together a memorabilia swap.

CD2 is now on Twitter @DFLCD2.

A couple of local events that we brought up:

Door knocking this Saturday in Lakeville.  This is a coordinated campaign door knocking event.  Meet Colin, myself and DFL staff and volunteers at the Dunn Bros. in Apple Valley on Galaxie by 11:00 am.  The more people the better.

The SD36 candidates will be hosting an outdoor event at Rambling River Park in Farmington on June 16th from 6:30-8:30 pm.  We are meeting at the picnic shelter.  Rain or shine come out and meet all three SD36 candidates.

The Dew Days Parade is June 19th at 1:00 in Farmington.  We need a big contingent of walkers for visibility.  If you are able to walk, carry signs, give out stickers or do something entertaining, we need you.  Contact

Finally, Dan Powers in CD2, Colin Lee in 36A, Sigrid Iversen in 36B and myself, Steve Quist in SD36, need financial support to be viable candidates.  Even $5 makes all the difference.  Click on the name of the person you would like to make a donation to, better yet, make a $5 donation to all four candidates.

The next CD2 Central Committee Meeting is August 3, 2010 at the Burnhaven Library.  Join us.

John Kline Schedules a Town Hall Meeting

Congressman John Kline has scheduled a town hall meeting on Friday, February 19, in Faribault.  Not one of those tele-town hall meetings, a live in person meeting.  It is a rare opportunity for CD2 constituents to see their representative.

The meeting is in the Michael J. Hanson Auditorium at Faribault High School, 330 9th Ave SW.  Enter the school through the main entrance, doors open at 6:00 pm.

I will not be able to attend.  I will be enjoying the weekend at Breezy Point where one of my sons will be participating in a hockey tournament.  But I have a couple suggestions for you if you plan to attend based on previous town hall meetings.

Get there early.  I’m not sure how this meeting is being communicated to constituents, but it will be heavily attended by Kline supporters, which I think is organized via phone, not by published media.  At a previous town hall meeting I attended in Lakeville a couple years ago, I got the impression from an older woman I walked into the meeting with that there was an organized effort to control the meeting by his supporters.  She made an assumption that I was a Kline supporter, I assume it was based on my arrival in a nice Buick like hers and the button-down shirt and dress pants I was wearing.  We talked as we walked in until she made an insulting comment about some protesters.  I said something to the effect that it was a free country and they have the right to their opinion, which made her confirm I was there to support Kline, I said no to.  We didn’t talk much after that.

Push your way to the front to be sure you get a prime spot in the auditorium if you don’t get there early.

Sit on the aisle.  If you can get an aisle seat, it is much more likely you will get noticed to ask your question, or make a comment.

Pay attention to the rules.  At previous meetings there have been rules about when you can make a comment and when you can ask a question.  There have even been rules about subjects you can ask about, so pay attention.  It is inevitable that a person will ask a good question that many people want the answer to, but it is at a time when Kline won’t answer it.

Plan your question or comment ahead of time so that you have an intelligent well thought out statement.  Don’t insult Congressman Kline as part of your question.  Make the question short and concise.  Don’t use tons of stats, and don’t take up a whole page writing your question.

Try and get others to go with you.  The fact is that GOPers are much more willing to attend this sort of event.  It is great if there are more DFLers in the crowd, but they don’t have to be DFLers.  I think an independent voter viewing the occasional rabid displays of affection by his supporters is a good first step in turning them off to him.

Don’t go to heckle.  It is disrespectful.  Congressman Kline is an elected official and deserves respect.  If you don’t want to have to respect him, you need to work harder to get somebody else elected.

After you go, feel free to send me your observations, maybe I can post them here.

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