Neighborly spirit felt at New Ulm DFL caucus

Peg Sundell (left) and Ramona Czer (center) listen to Deb Egeland read a proposed resolution during the New Ulm DFL caucus.

NEW ULM – Around 35 civic-minded individuals braved the blustery weather to attend New Ulm’s Democratic-Farmer-Labor (DFL) caucus, Tuesday.

The New Ulm DFL caucus was co-convened by Theresa Keaveny and Ken Varland. Keaveny said in addition to the 35 attending in-person, another six non-attendee forms were submitted to the caucus.

Keaveny said the non-attendee forms were a good sign as it showed there were more people dedicated to participating in the democratic process.

At the start of the caucus it was announced Rachel Bohman, an assistant county attorney from Rochester, was running for Minnesota’s First Congressional seat. The seat is currently held by Republican Brad Finstad. Bohman formally announced her candidacy yesterday.

No single issue dominated the caucus discussion, but Varland said many of the resolutions he saw were related to helping the environment, improving healthcare and access to housing.

New Ulm DFL caucus attendees discuss the resolutions. (L to R) clockwise Gene Retha, Peg Sundell, Ramona Czer, Deb Egeland, Dayle Besemer and Pat Booker.

“I think everyone was energized by tonight’s discussion,” Varland said. “I think everyone was passionate about the resolutions.”

Other resolutions discussed during the caucus including rural child care shortage; proper reimbursement for rural nursing homes; keeping forever chemicals and nitrates out of water and healthcare for all.

Keaveny had personally submitted a healthcare for all resolution. Everyone in her precinct supported the resolution, but doubted it would move through the legislation. Keaveny said she was optimistic people would come around to universal healthcare. She said most people now support the laws prohibiting insurance companies from denying coverage for pre-existing conditions. This was not always the case. She believed over time more people would see the logic of healthcare for all.

Keaveny was also supporting a resolution that the Minnesota DFL make passage of the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) a top priority in 2024 or 2026.

Several of those attending the caucus were longtime attendees. Not everyone at the caucus came with a specific agenda.

Theresa Keaveny and Ken Varland announced the agenda for the New Ulm DFL caucus, held Tuesday at the New Ulm High School. Around 35 attended the New Ulm DFL convention.

Peg Sundell said she came this year because she simply enjoys discussing policy.

Lee Weber said “It was great seeing my neighbor. That’s what the caucus is, going to discuss what is important with my neighbors.”

Weber said the topics covered everything from electoral college reform to capturing methane gas. He felt the top issues for this caucus were healthcare related; especially reimbursement rates for nursing homes and Emergency Medical Service (EMS) workers.

“What is great about the caucus is you find out what is important to your neighbor that you had not even thought of,” Weber said. This year he learned about the concerns surrounding EMS funding and how it is lower in the rural area. He said it was an issue that was so important, but it was not something in front of him until that night.

The other benefit is by discussing the issues, you know where the candidates stand.

“If you don’t know what the candidates stand for, you don’t know who you are voting for,” he said.

Minnesota’s Presidential Primary election is Tuesday, March 5. Varland told caucus attendees the DFL wanted a strong showing for the presidential primary.

The Brown County DFL Convention will convene at 10 a.m. Saturday, March 9 at the New Ulm Community Center at 600 N. German Street. Registration begins at 9:30 a.m.


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