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The Carletonian

The Carletonian


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Local politics are difficult to follow, in part because they do not follow strict party lines. We cannot simply say, “he’s the DFL candidate, so I’ll vote for him.”

Northfield’s issues are, unfortunately, also mostly estranged from us. While we may bike down Division Street to grab coffee at Blue Mondays. how much do we really know about the inner workings of this town and what challenges it faces?

Not much, probably. Yet, hundreds of Carleton students will vote on Tuesday for Northfield local representatives and in that vote, will help determine the future of this town.

It is therefore imperative that we be informed with regard to Northfield’s local candidates. We cannot wait until we are in the voter booth to make a decision, because though we may transiently inhabit Northfield, our vote will impact the lives of the citizens who live here for more than four years.

If you are voting in Northfield, I recommend you research the candidates and form your own opinions. To see who will appear on the ballet, visit

Take the time; be engaged. We do not want to be one of those schools that exists independently of its environment, as if it could exist anywhere on the map, or wherein the students live in some cloistered ivory tower.

Now, after I’ve belabored the importance of you forming your own opinions, I’ll give you mine.

On Thursday night, Northfield City Council candidates gathered for a student-moderated open question in Boliou. The lineup included Suzie Nakasian and Joe Gasior, opponents for Council Member Ward 1, and Rhonda Powell and Dale Gehring, opponents for Council Member at Large. Here are my thoughts on each of their performances:

Suzie Nakasian:
The incumbent, Nakasian has an impressive educational background (Barnard College, Masters in Divinity and Philosophy) and ultimately, it seemed far more experience than her opponent. She stressed her ability to set goals and achieve them, and highlighted her previous and current initiatives, such as the TORCH program, Bike Northfield and Passenger Rail Project.

I particularly liked her thoughts about climate change (that we should prepare for it as a community) and urban sprawl (that we should avoid it, and “grow how we want”).

Joe Gasior:
Gasior is currently an Engineering Manager at Malt-O-Meal, and has experience as the Planning Commissioner of Northfield.

There is not much to say except that ultimately, I found him uninspiring. He focused on economic growth, development and attracting new businesses, which to be fair, appears to be the main topic of debate for Northfield right now. However in comparison to Nakasian, he lacked concrete ideas, energy and experience.

Rhonda Pownell: Though she appeared somewhat nervous and tired, I was otherwise impressed with Pownell’s responses.

Like Nakasian, she is the incumbent and has a great deal of experience. She also has a degree in social work from St. Olaf, and in this vein, has worked diligently during her time in office on programs like the LINK center and the Youth Drug and Alcohol Take Force.

Dale Gehring: To be frank, Gehring was uncomfortably aggressive for such a small and low-key open forum. I liked his ideas about inclusion, but he seemed more focused on talking about Pownell’s faults than his own ideas.

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