In less then a week Campaign 2002 will be over, but until then the race is on as politicians make one last push to get their messages out.
St. Olaf has become a hub of political activity in recent weeks, welcoming politicians from varying races around the state.
TIM PENNY — GOVERNOR CANDIDATE
Former democratic congressman and current independent candidate Tim Penny for Governor addressed the St. Olaf community Oct. 24 in the Pause.
Penny was joined by his running mate Martha Robinson. Together Penny and Robinson vowed to serve Minnesota voters on a non-partisan basis.
"We need to bring the two sides together," Penny said. "Partisanship doesn’t do anything. There is a big challenge facing our state right now with the budget being a mess. We need someone who wasn’t part of making the mess in there to clean it up."
Penny said that it is important for voters to be informed about the current problems facing Minnesota.
"I don’t want to gloss over the budget problem," Penny said. "I have a specific vision for Minnesota; one that will help move this state to a fundamentally better place, and that is the message I want to get out to voters as I am on the campaign trail."
With over a $1 billion budget deficit facing Minnesota, Penny was optimistic that the problem could be solved without having to cut vital services.
"We would have to take a real hard look at the budget and see what is important and then do some restructuring," Penny said. "But we aren’t saying you have to make great cuts. We want to leave everything on the table and open for consideration."
Penny and Robinson proposed an increase in gas tax as one solution to the budget problem.
Robinson addressed the audience with a plea to go out and vote on Nov. 5.
"We need you to go to the polls on Election Day, and when you go take five of your friends, and make sure that all of them take five of their friends."
Penny was supposed to be accompanied by Governor Jesse Ventura, but a scheduling conflict prevented Ventura from appearing.
NORM COLEMAN –– SENATE CANDIDATE
Republican candidate for U.S. Senate Norm Coleman also appeared on campus on the 24th, speaking to a gathering of students waving signs and chanting, "We want Norm."
Coleman’s appearance came one day before the tragic plane accident that killed his opponent Sen. Paul Wellstone, Wellstone’s wife and daughter, and three other campaign staffers along with two pilots. The accident halted campaign activities and threw the closely contested Senate race into chaos.
Coleman’s address Thursday focused on his accomplishments as Mayor of St. Paul and on his political metamorphosis from a moderate Democrat to a member of the Republican Party.
Coleman recounted an early period in his life when during his college days at Hofstra University he would carry a bullhorn around with his books.
"You never knew when a protest would spring up. You had to be ready," Coleman said.
Coleman said his experience as Mayor of St. Paul caused him to make the switch.
"I saw that government had the power to unite people," Coleman said. "It was all about bringing people together to get things done. That is something you can’t accomplish when you are at one extreme or the other."
Coleman’s track record in St. Paul credits him with creating 18,000 new jobs in the city, bringing $1.5 billion in private investment, cleaning up the Mississippi River, and bringing a National Hockey League team back to Minnesota. All his accomplishments he boasts were done without raising property tax rates.
Coleman also responded to a student’s question addressing his views on GLBT issues.
"It is important to tap into the quality of all individuals," Coleman said. "Regardless of their race, gender, or sexual orientation. When I was mayor I hired a transgender deputy mayor not because she was transgender, but because she was the smartest person I knew and the best candidate for the job.
That is what we need to focus on. We need to look at every individual’s worth and what qualities they bring to the table."
DAVID BLY --- STATE REPRESENATIVE
David Bly the democratic candidate for state representative and a graduate of St. Olaf was scheduled to talk at Tuesday evenings Political Awareness Dinner, with state Senate candidate Jim Mladek. The event was cancelled due to the public memorial service for Sen. Paul Wellstone, his family and campaign staff that was held on the same night.
In an interview Bly did discuss his campaign and several issues of importance in his race for the state legislature.
Bly sees the state’s education system as being a primary issue. Having been a teacher for the past 25 years and and working as an instructor at Northfield’s Alternative Learning Center, Bly has experience in the field of education.
"We really need to look at and improve all levels of education," Bly said. "K-12 as well as keeping grants and state funding for students in Minnesota’s public and private colleges."
Bly noted the differences that he and his opponent Republican Ray Cox had on educational issues.
"I know my opponent is opposed to the Profiles of Learning, but I am not sure if he is aware that in order for Minnesota schools to receive federal funding there has to be some kind of accountability in place," Bly said. "The alternative would be to adopt some kind of high stakes testing, which I don’t think is fair because not every child tests the same. I think we can figure out a way to improve the Profiles so we can avoid this high stakes testing."
Other issues that Bly spoke on included: health care, environment, the importance of state aid to local governments, and the woman’s right to choose.
Bly’s stance on the environmental concerns included having the government enforce the Clean Air and Clean Water laws, shutting down the Nuclear Power facility on Prairie Island, and developing renewable energy sources.
"The need for renewable energy is a huge issue facing the legislature right now," Bly said. "It’s hard to look at the issue very effectively though, because the Xcel Energy company plays such a big part in elections and can kind of persuade politicians to do what they want, instead of doing what is right for the state."
As of press time democratic gubernatorial candidate Roger Moe and Senate candidate Walter Mondale are scheduled to visit St. Olaf in the near future.