On Tuesday, February 25, a precinct caucus for the Democratic Farmer-Labor Party (DFL) was hosted at the Weitz Center for Creativity for Ward 1. Precinct 1 includes the Carleton campus and its adjacent streets. This was the most highly attended of the 31 precinct caucuses in Rice County, with 71 people taking part.
Angelique Dietz, the Outreach and Inclusion Officer for the Rice County DFL and Senate District 20 DFL, as well as a member of the Executive Committee, spoke with The Carletonian about organizing the precinct caucuses in Rice County.
“The Chair and Vice-Chair of Rice County do most of this organizational work, but we all help out with recruiting conveners and other volunteers to help out at the caucuses,” Dietz explained. This year, the convener for Precinct 1 was Carleton Chemistry Professor Joe Chihade. Chihade has been a member of the Rice County DFL Central Committee since 2018 and lives in the precinct.
In addition, Dietz noted that “the caucuses are completely run by the local Organizing Units of the DFL around the state. They are organized by volunteers, and we do not receive outside funding, for example, from either the State DFL or the DNC. At the caucuses themselves we raise the money to pay for the rent of the venues and all the paperwork involved.”
Registration for the event started at 6:30 p.m. Students and community members representing campaigns, as well as ISAIAH and the DFL Environmental Caucus, also attended to inform caucus-goers on issues in the community and to advocate for specific party resolutions.
In Senate District 20 there is only one contested race. There are three DFL declared candidates who are looking to receive endorsement in order to take on the Republican incumbent State Senator Rich Draheim. These candidates include Davin Sokup, Jon Olson, and Suze Nakasian.
At 7:00 p.m., caucus-goers elected a precinct chair —Chihade—and two vice-chairs—Greg Licholai ’23 and Maya Stovall ’23. Caucus-goers also elected 24 delegates and 8 alternates to the County and State Senate District conventions.
Greta Hardy-Mittell ’23 was one of many Carleton students elected as a delegate. Although there were 32 people interested in running for delegates, Hardy-Mittell noted that “enough switched to running as alternates to narrow it down to 24.”
The majority of the event was spent introducing and voting on party resolutions. A number of Carleton students introduced many of the resolutions, including Jack Coyne ’20, Carrie Kisicki ’21, Jacob Isaacs ’20, and Henry Brown ’21.
Of the resolutions, some of the longest debates were on “Keep Truckers’ Jobs,” “Repeal Anti-BDS Laws” and “Abolish Prisons,” all of which failed. However, a general prison reform resolution passed, along with 21 other resolutions.
Chihade offered some insight into the resolution process: “Resolutions that are endorsed at a sufficient number of caucuses are brought to the county convention, and then there is a process through which endorsements go through several conventions and can be eventually included in the Minnesota DFL’s party platform. The party platform is constructed entirely of resolutions that begin at caucuses.”
Speaking on the grassroots effort, Hardy-Mittell ’23 said that the caucuses “set a great precedent in terms of civic engagement.” She continued to say, “It was so heartening to see Carleton students show up for this quirky Minnesota democratic system, many of them first-years and almost all of them first-time caucus-goers.”