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Becker County DFL precinct delegates rally around their candidates

Lakeview TOwNSHIp DFLers discuss a resolution to make school recycling mandatory during Tuesday night's caucuses held at M State.

They already have their man for president (Barack Obama).

They already have their woman for senate (Amy Klobuchar).

But roughly 80 Democrats in Becker County still showed up to the caucus Tuesday night at M State to do three things: submit resolutions for platform consideration, vote for delegates for the county convention and rally the DFL troops.

Kicking off the evening's event was State Rep. Paul Marquart of Dilworth, who talked about job creation under the Obama administration.

And while caucus attendance was a fraction of what it was in 2008, when around 500 people showed up, the Democrats who did attend were still passionate about their agenda.

"We have a blanket opposition to all the (state) constitutional amendments that have been put forth," said Aaron Wittnebel, secretary for Becker County's DFL. "And that would be the super majority amendment to raising the revenue -- the Republicans are most likely to put that on the ballet -- as well as the marriage amendment, which we're also against, and the right to work amendment ... which really isn't the right to work, it's the right to get paid nothing."

Breaking up into precincts (or townships), DFL'ers generated resolutions or things they want to see their party candidates run on in the fall.

A big one this year is the Democrats' opposition to an amendment that would require voters to produce photo identification, something Terry Kalil of the Shell Lake precinct is vehemently against.

"Because it attempts to solve a problem that does not exist, the cost of doing the implementation is incredibly difficult, but primarily because it discriminates against so many distinct groups of people," she said, "whether it's students, the elderly, the disabled and new immigrants who, for various reasons, the process of getting a photo ID is incredibly expensive to them," said Kalil, "This is nothing more than trying to eliminate certain groups because they tend to vote a certain way."

Will Mattison is also of Shell Lake township, and he brought a resolution to the table that demonstrated what he called "broad grassroots support" for campaign finance reform, specifically addressing a supreme court ruling that gave corporations personhood.

"We basically have the best politicians money can buy, and we believe it's a fundamental free speech issue in that a citizen can no longer buy a voice in the public forum because it's so dominated by the money," said Mattison. "So I maintain that if it costs money to speak, speech is not free." The essence of Mattison's resolution is to go to public financing, which he believes would level the playing field for all political candidates.

From Lakeview Township, Detroit Lakes High School social studies teacher Gail Katschevar and her 18-year-old daughter, Lydia, showed up to express support for a resolution that would make recycling at public schools mandatory.

"We do not recycle at the high school and it makes me crazy," said Katschevar. "This is where kids learn their life long habits. The amount of garbage we throw away is ridiculous."

Wild Rice Electric Board Member Roger Winter represented Callaway Township, bringing a resolution that would reduce the amount Wild Rice would have to pay out to the CIP program (a conservation program that gives rebates for energy-saving products), from three percent to one percent.

"There are only select members that take advantage of that, but everybody is paying for it every month," said Winter, "There's a lot of people on a fixed income, and pretty soon they won't be able to pay their electricity bill because everybody's paying for this."

"I want to reinstate the market value tax credit and the homestead tax credit," added Tera Guetter of the Hamden Township, "and reinstate the LGA (local government aid) because I know the county, city, the watershed ... we all want that money back."

Not all 48 precincts were represented at the caucus, but a large majority of the citizens who did show were then slotted for a seat at the county convention next month.

Wittnebel says attendance at this precinct caucus was vital for people wanting to be delegates "because if you didn't come in here, you can't get in after redistricting on Feb. 21."

From the county convention, delegates will be whittled down to six for the state convention in May, and the resolutions will be narrowed down to 20.

Becker County DFL Chair Dave Erickson says although the spotlight isn't on the democrats right now, it's still an exciting time as the DFL tries to regain the momentum he says was lost a couple of years after Obama was elected.

"We worked really hard to see that happen (Obama elected) but then it's almost like we all thought our job was done," said Erickson, "I don't think we stepped up as much as we should have; we didn't expect the ruckus and passion from the other side. We thought, Obama is in and he's going to fix things, but it's not that easy. It is a fight, and I sense that the momentum is starting to swing back again."

Democrats meet again for the County DFL Convention March 22 at the M State Conference Center at 7 p.m.