Candidate forum lets voters voice their concerns

by Chris Vetter

For once, the public chose the topics of politicians’ discussions. Tuesday night at the downtown Minneapolis Public Library, about 30 people were given the chance to question candidates for University-area legislative seats.
The candidates for State House District 59B and Senate District 59, which encompass most of the Minneapolis campus, addressed questions from the audience during a forum.
Sen. Larry Pogemiller, DFL-Minneapolis, and Grassroots Party challenger Dave Wiester squared off, as did Rep. Phyllis Kahn, DFL-Minneapolis, and her opponents, Republican Tom Gromacki and Reform Party candidate Alan Shilepsky. Cathy Carlson, the endorsed Republican for the District 59 Senate race, did not attend the forum.
The audience raised questions on a variety of issues from crime to student vouchers.
Kahn, a 24-year incumbent who is a former professor in biophysics at the University, said she has earned the community’s respect and deserves to be reelected.
“I stand for reelection on a record that I am very proud of,” Kahn said. “I have helped pass bills that effect both downtown and the non-downtown area.” Kahn listed some of her accomplishments,: such as getting funding for environmental protection, bike paths and women’s shelters.
Gromacki, a University student and former chair of the College Republicans, linked many of the problems in Minnesota to a breakdown of the family. He said crime should be reduced with a stronger traditional family. He also said families should consider homeschooling instead of public education.
Shilepsky called himself the moderate between the two extremes of Kahn and Gromacki. Shilepsky said voters will choose him as the moderate, reasonable voice for the district. “We must bring back the moderates who are cynical and have been dropping out of politics,” Shilepsky said.
Pogemiller, who has held his seat since 1982, said he will continue to work for improvements for the University.
“I will support more state funding for increasing University salaries,” Pogemiller said. “We need to hold tuition down. We are getting to the point where tuition is too high and professors salaries are no longer competitive.”
The forum was sponsored by the League of Women’s Voters and the Downtown Minneapolis Residents Association. Kahn and Gromacki will have a one-on-one debate Wednesday, Oct. 23, in Coffman Memorial Union.