With the 2020 election quickly approaching, young people are starting to make decisions about how they’re going to be voting. While deciding who our next president will be is what many voters are focused on, the Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor (DFL) party is reaching out to young voters on a local scale.
On Tuesday Oct. 8, four local and state representatives for Minnesota had conversations with Cobbers. State Representative Ben Lein, State Senator Kent Eken, and City Council members Deb White and Chuck Hendrickson attended. The event was put on by Young DFL, which is an organization within the Minnesota DFL party.
Young DFL is traveling to twenty-two cities across Minnesota and inviting state and local elected officials to speak to young people within their districts. These meetings allow young voters to have the opportunity to speak with their representatives and make their representatives aware of the issues that are important to them.
Because young people make up a large part of the voting population, the DFL is particularly focused on them, specifically those under the age of thirty-six.
“We want to give them special access to their representative and hear their ideas for change,” Young DFL President Jason Chavez said. “We also want to give them the opportunity to network and encourage them to connect more with their college,” he continued.
Some of the issues that were brought up by the audience were, student debt, legalization of marijuana, and climate change.
Sophomore Megan Parkinson attended the event, eager to hear what the representatives had to say.
“I think it is important to meet and know your representatives for local, state, and national government. Having the opportunity to talk about issues that concern you to our representatives is rare, and we should take advantage of it when we can,” she said.
Parkinson also described why being civically engaged is important to her.
“Being engaged is a way I can start making change in the world. By letting my representatives know which issues I care about is the perfect way to start. As students, we start being aware of what is happening locally and around the world because soon, these issues are going to be in our hands. And we need to figure out how to fix them,” she said.
Moorhead City Councilors Deb White and Chuck Hendrickson were interested in what would make day-to-day lives easier within the city of Moorhead. Responses included railroad tracks and trains and increasing community engagement. Many were interested in how college students could be more involved in the Fargo-Moorhead area.
Councilwoman Deb White encouraged students to attend city council meetings.
“We are working on making city hall a more welcoming environment to be in. We want to create a more inclusive environment where members of the public can feel more comfortable approaching us with ideas,” White said.
Brayden Sorenson, the communications director for Campus Democrats, discussed how beneficial it was to bring these representatives to campus.
“It was a great opportunity to voice problems that college students are facing. If college students are not voicing these problems regularly, our problems can be easily overlooked by our legislators,” he said.
Sorenson would like to host another event similar to this one in the future.
“After our event with Governor Walz and Senator Smith last year and this event, I think it is safe to say that Campus Dems will continue to bring politicians to campus so students can voice their concerns,” he said.
Campus Democrats meets in Old Main 331 at 7pm on Mondays biweekly. More information and reminders can be found on their social media @concodems. Students can reach out to them via email at firstname.lastname@example.org if they have any ideas for engaging students in politics.