DFL advocates for rural issues

Staff photo by Clay Schuldt DFL candidate for state representative in District 16B Mindy Kimmel (center) caucuses with fellow DFLer at the Community Center Tuesday night.

NEW ULM — The New Ulm Democratic-Farmer-Labor (DFL) caucus was attended by 60 people Tuesday.

These were the first caucuses held in New Ulm since Minnesota moved to a presidential primary. Since caucus-goers were no longer being asked to vote for a presidential candidate, county DFL leaders expected a lower turnout. Numbers were down from 2018 when 80 people attended the caucus, but county vice-chair Larry Czer said it was still a pretty fair turnout for Brown County.

Despite lower numbers, caucus-goers were eager to discuss potential resolutions. The caucus process was less clear cut than a primary, but some caucus attendees prefer it.

Lee Weber believes the caucus helps voters think about the issues.

“It challenges everyone,” he said. “I think it is a good thing.”

Czer said this year saw many resolutions coming from the Minnesota DFL’s Rural Caucus. The Rural Caucus brought resolutions on agriculture, small business development, broadband and education bills.

Boundary waters protection was addressed through a resolution banning sulfide-copper minding.

Another resolution called for equitable funding for rural education. It was believed the state’s funding formula was unfair to rural school districts. One caucus attendee said the effects of the formula were playing out in districts like GFW, which is struggling with operating debt.

Resolutions to raise funding for SNAP were also on the table.

Other resolutions tackled social issues, calling for elected officials to dismantle racial, gender and economic injustice in our democracy, institutions and public programs.

DFL candidate for the Minnesota House seat in District 16B Mindy Kimmel attended the caucus and spoke on flipping the seat. Though she did not win in 2016, Kimmel said her campaign did meet several goals in terms of voter outreach and wanted to expand on these efforts.

The top goals for her campaign were affordable healthcare, broadband access and fully funded schools.

Bob Beck spoke on behalf of U.S. congressional candidate Dan Feehan. He said Feehan was for the people and would not take special interest money. He said Feehan would also strengthen Medicaid and oppose the cuts recently proposed by the White House.

No one chose to endorse a specific DFL presidential candidate during the caucus. Czer did anticipate a large voter turnout for next week’s primary. He believes Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar would bring out high turnout in the state.

The Minnesota Presidential Primary is Tuesday, March 3.

The Brown County DFL Convention will start 10:30 a.m. Saturday, March 7, at the New Ulm Library basement meeting room.