Grassroots democracy

DFL pleased with Marshall turnout

Photo by Deb Gau Precinct caucus participants from the city of Ghent and Grandview Township gathered at a table at the Adult Community Center on Tuesday night.

MARSHALL — It wasn’t the record crowd of two years ago, but organizers at the Democratic-Farmer-Labor caucus in Marshall said it looked like good numbers of people, including some new faces, were gathering.

“We don’t really know what to expect,” said Don Edblom of the Lyon County DFL. “We’re hoping for a lot of people.”

Precinct caucus turnout can be affected by different factors, Edblom said. For one, it wasn’t a presidential election year, which tends to increase people’s interest.

Tuesday’s precinct caucus drew about 70 DFLers to the Adult Community Center in Marshall. It was one of two DFL caucus locations in Lyon County.

Caucuses weren’t only important as a way to support political parties, participants said. A message from Minnesota DFL party chairman Ken Martin, which Edblom read at the start of the event, said taking part in a precinct caucus was “participating in democracy at the grassroots level.”

Some of the main items of business that Tuesday’s caucus addressed included choosing delegates and alternates for the Lyon County DFL convention next month, deciding on party platform issues, and filling out a preference ballot for Minnesota gubernatorial candidates.

The DFL preference ballot included all six declared Democratic candidates for governor. In the running are St. Paul mayor Chris Coleman, state Rep. Tina Liebling of Rochester, state Rep. Erin Murphy of St. Paul, Minnesota State Auditor Rebecca Otto, state Rep. Paul Thissen of Minneapolis, and U.S. Rep. Tim Walz. The preference ballots will help start the official process of endorsing a DFL candidate for governor.

Complete results for the Lyon County preference ballot likely wouldn’t be available right away after the caucus in Marshall, Edblom said. He needed to collect caucus materials from the precincts gathered at the DFL caucus in Tracy, as well.

Caucus participants said it was the first time in years that Lyon County has held precinct caucuses in more than one location.

“It kind of made sense to do it that way,” Edblom said, with Tracy being the caucus location for the southern part Lyon County. In organizing this year’s caucuses, Edblom said, he took into account that southern Lyon County is in a different district for the Minnesota House of Representatives — District 22A, instead of District 16A.

In addition to area residents taking part in their caucuses, there were several observers at the event, too.

“This is part of our American national government class,” said Tara Thapa Mayar, who was one of around 10 students from Southwest Minnesota State University taking notes on what they saw. “Our professor asked us to go (to a caucus) and get to know how a caucus works.”

Of course, the democratic process wouldn’t stop with the precinct caucuses Tuesday night. The next step will be the county DFL convention in March, caucus participants said. Delegates selected Tuesday night will gather at the Adult Community Center in Marshall on March 3.