City to host U.S. Senate debate

Published 12:00 am Friday, September 8, 2000

Austin will come first in the minds of Minnesota’s political analysts and Senate candidates on Oct.

Friday, September 08, 2000

Austin will come first in the minds of Minnesota’s political analysts and Senate candidates on Oct. 15. That’s the day Austin will host one of two outstate debates between the candidates for U.S. Senate.

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All the candidates who will be on the November ballot are being invited to the debates, which will be held in Duluth, Minneapolis and Austin. The debates are being organized by the Minnesota League of Women Voters and KMSP Channel 9 in Minneapolis and are being funded by a grant from the Blandin Foundation.

Local league voter service chairwoman Donna Dahl said the Austin Area League of Women Voters found out this summer that Austin had been selected to host the outstate debate in the southern portion of the state. Dahl thought the visit to Austin earlier in the year by the state league president precipitated Austin’s selection over other possible sites.

"We think it’s wonderful," Dahl said. "It’s a real honor, and I hope the residents of Mower County and Austin will come out and fill the auditorium – wherever we have it."

The issue of where to hold the debate is what Dahl will be discussing today with league debate coordinator Liz Nordling and Alan Beck of KMSP. The pair will visit both Ellis Middle School’s auditorium and the Frank W. Bridges Theatre at Riverland Community College.

Once the site is chosen for the Oct. 15 debate, the real work begins for local league members, as well as any others who would like to volunteer.

"We need to find panelists who can question the candidates if the audience starts to flag," Dahl said. "What we’re stressing is that the Austin debate should focus more on rural issues, rather than metropolitan.

"We also have to deal with all the local arrangements: staffing, publicity, the reception after the debate," Dahl added.

The Austin Area League of Women Voters also is sponsoring forums for local candidates in conjunction with public television station KSMQ. The debates between candidates for city and county offices will take place from 8 to 10 p.m. Oct. 25. Candidates for offices in the Minnesota House and Senate will discuss the issues from 8 to 9 p.m. Oct. 26. Viewers will have the opportunity to call in with questions during the televised forums.

The League of Women Voters in a non-partisan, political organization whose mission is to encourage the informed and active participation of citizens in government and to influence public policy through education and advocacy. Membership is open to everyone.