|64B candidates (l to r.) Matthew Bergeron, Matt Freeman, Greta Bergstrom, Melanie McMahon, Gloria Zaiger, Beth Fraser and Dave Pinto) Photo: Tim Nelson|
Seven of the candidates vying to replace outgoing state representative Michael Paymar made their party debut at a Senate District 64 DFL meeting at Macalester College last night. All offered a quick 2-minute introduction to party officers and DFLers.
Much of the detail was biographical, and you can read some of the information in the previous candidate postings here at The Race for 64B: (In the order above: Matthew Bergeron, Matt Freeman, Greta Bergstrom, Melanie McMahon, Gloria Zaiger, Beth Fraser, and Dave Pinto.)
Three of the candidates, Dave Pinto, Gloria Zaiger and Matt Freeman kicked off their speeches by emphasizing their party ties: "I know many of you," said Dave Pinto. "I've phone banked with you, I've been to caucuses with you." Gloria Zaiger ran quickly down her DFL resume as a party activist and Freeman laid out his campaign bone fides, including work on the Barack Obama and Amy Klobuchar campaigns and running Chris Coleman's re-election campaign. "We need somebody that's going to go out and organize," he said, as he wrapped up his pitch.
Both Melanie McMahon and Greta Bergstrom talked up their ties to the district. "My grandma moved to Randolph Avenue nearly 70 years ago, as single mom," McMahon told the crowd. She said she and her husband even bought a house near her grandmother's. Greta Bergstrom, who ran once before for the seat, started her pitch with her background: "I have been a resident of this district most of my life."
Matthew Bergeron, a House committee administrator, and deputy Secretary of State Beth Fraser, emphasized their state government experience. Bergeron talked about his service for the Health and Human Services Policy Committee and said it's a key aspect of state government and his experience would serve the district well. Fraser talked about her work on elections and the Voter ID amendment last year and with the Minnesota Alliance for Progressive Action. "My track record has 17 years of experience working at the Capitol," Fraser told the crowd.
The question and answer afterward had a couple interesting points. All were asked about the proposed PolyMet copper-nickel mine proposed for northern Minnesota. None expressed any real support.
- "I want to make sure we don't do any environmental damage we can't undo," said McMahon.
- Bergstrom questioned whether 300 jobs was worth potentially centuries of cleanup: "I don't see a reason to vote for that," she said.
- Freeman said he was open to it, "but for me, the threshold would be very high to move forward."
- Bergeron called the employment "tempting," but added that "there are a lot of things that would have to be worked out before I'd be comfortable supporting it."
- Pinto said he was concerned about the potential lengthy environmental cleanup, noting that 500 years of potential water treatment was daunting: "Think about what happened 500 years ago," he said, by comparison.
- Fraser said she thinks the state needs to find something else to revitalize the Iron Range. "I want to find other economic options," she said. "How can we find alternatives."
- Zaiger was outright against it. "I sympathize with the need for jobs, but there hasn't been enough research, and I am right now opposed," she said.
Other news from the meeting:
- Beth Fraser said she will officially be getting in the race and plans to put out a release today. Look for that later here at The Race for 64B.
- Greta Bergstrom is planning a campaign event for the Chatterbox Pub in Highland Village on Sunday, from 4 to 6 p.m. She says there will be a formal invite and announcement as soon as today.
- The Feb. 4 precinct caucuses for 64B are scheduled for now for Highland Junior High. The Senate District 64 Convention is looking like it'll be March 23, a Sunday, at noon, at Central High.
- Party officials said last night they hare planning to have a pre-caucus candidate forum, likely some time in the last two weeks of January, so that would-be delegates to the convention can get a better look at who they'd like to support before Feb. 4.