Caucuses return to Mower County Tuesday

Published 7:30 am Friday, January 29, 2010

Supporters of both major political parties will have a chance to help determine which names they’ll see on election ballots in November.

The Democrat and Republican parties will both hold precinct caucuses Feb. 2. The caucuses start at 7 p.m. Tuesday, and registration will be held before 7 p.m.

“Caucuses are the basic building block of all politics,” said Brian Thiel, treasurer of the Mower County Republicans.

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Precinct caucuses serve as a forum for people to discuss issues and help determine which candidates will be involved in the November elections.

“Democracy is not a spectator sport,” said Dale Chidester, chairman of the Mower County Democratic-Farm Labor Party. “If you want good government, you need to participate.”

The Mower County Republicans will have three caucuses locations Tuesday: Austin Senior Center, Racine City Hall and the LeRoy Community Center.

The Mower County Democratic-Farm Labor Party will have two locations Tuesday: Austin Labor Center and Grand Meadow High School.

Each party will elect more than 100 delegates to attend the county convention. The Democratic county convention is Feb. 28 at 1 p.m., and the Republican county convention is in early March. Delegates may also be selected to move on to the congressional and state conventions.

The caucuses for both parties will serve as a place to discuss public policy and pass resolutions that could shape a party’s platform. For example, Thiel said changing how judges are selected in Minnesota was discussed at the 2008 Republican caucus, and he said it could be discussed again Tuesday.

A straw poll will be held at both the Republican Party and Democratic Party caucuses for the nominees for governor. While caucuses don’t directly choose which candidate will reach ballots, the results guide a party when deciding which candidate to endorse leading up to the primaries.

“This early part of the process is when we the people have the ability to decide who even gets on the ballot,” Chidester said.

People can participate in a caucus at only one location. Participants aren’t required to bring specific documents, but it’s recommended that people arrive early to register before the caucus starts at 7 p.m.

According to Chidester, people as young as 16 can discuss issues at the caucus, but they aren’t allowed to vote or be delegates. Anyone who will be of voting age by the November election can participate in the caucus and be selected as a delegate.

Thiel said it’s important for young people to be involved in the caucus: “It’s basic American citizenship,” he said. People too young to participate are invited to the caucus locations to observe.

Democrat Caucus Locations

Austin — Austin Labor Center 316 Fourth Avenue NE

Cities: Austin, Adams, Brownsdale, Lansing, Lyle Mapleview, Sargeant, Waltham

Townships: Adams, Austin, Lansing, Lyle, Nevada, Sargeant, Red Rock, Udolpho, Waltham, Windom

Grand Meadow — Grand Meadow High School 710 4th Ave. NE

Cities: Dexter, Grand Meadow, LeRoy, Racine, Taopi

Townships: Bennington, Clayton, Dexter, Frankford, Grand Meadow, LeRoy, Lodi, Marshall, Pleasant Valley, Racine

Republican Caucus Locations

Austin — Senior Center, 400 Third Ave NE

Cities: Austin, Adams, Brownsdale, Dexter, Elkton, Lyle, Mapleview, Rose Creek, Sargeant, Waltham.

Townships: Adams, Austin, Dexter, Lansing, Lyle, Marshall, Nevada, Red Rock, Sargeant, Udolpho, Waltham and Windom.

Racine — City Hall on Main Street 201 E. Main St.

Cities: Grand Meadow, Racine

Townships: Frankford, Grand Meadow, Pleasant Valley, Racine

LeRoy — Community Center 122 W. Main St.

Townships: Bennington, Clayton, LeRoy, Lodi