Vento promotes

Coralie Carlson

Students in Coffman Union took a break from their lunchtime pizza and sandwiches on Tuesday to chew on some political policy.
Bruce Vento, the Democratic incumbent for St. Paul in the House of Representatives, visited with students and handed out campaign literature at the union in an effort to inform students about the Nov. 3 election.
“The best way to mobilize students is to actually speak to the candidates,” said Sam Tuttle, a Spanish and political science senior who helped coordinate the candidate stops.
Reform party gubernatorial candidate Jesse Ventura, Democrat Lt. Governor hopeful Roger Moe and incumbent state Representative Karen Clark will visit the union today.
Vento, whose district includes the St. Paul campus, buzzed from student to student, introducing himself and fielding questions about higher education and affirmative action. He also visited each of the cultural centers housed in Coffman.
Gwen Schultrich, General College freshman, said Vento’s appearance in the Queer Student Cultural Center surprised her.
“A lot of legislators are kind of afraid to address the GLBT community issues. I was impressed that he came by this office,” she said.
Although Vento admitted he voted for the 1997 Defense of Marriage Act — which bans the state from recognizing same-sex marriages in other states — Schultrich said she understood his position and is more likely to vote for him because he stopped by.
The 28-year incumbent attended the University for about four years on undergraduate and graduate degrees. He taught high school science before winning his chair in the U.S. Congress in 1970. Now he specializes in banking, housing and environmental issues at the Capitol.
But most of the students Vento met on campus didn’t recognize his name.
“I thought it was great that he was here,” said Tiffany Hinden, a College of Liberal Arts junior. “It’s just kind of sad that I don’t know who he is.”
That’s precisely why the Minnesota Student Association officials said they invited the candidates to campus.
The politicians’ visits do more than educate students, said Kjersten Reich, a CLA junior who escorted Vento around Coffman. They also provide a reason to vote by exposing students to another side of government.
Increasing University-area voter turnout is something for which all of the participants said they strived.
Doing his part, Vento left his constituents with a simple appeal: “Remember to vote on Tuesday.”