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Climate change and rural needs are top issues for DFL delegate – West Central Tribune

Climate change and rural needs are top issues for DFL delegate – West Central Tribune


— Happening two days after wind storms ripped a path of destruction throughout much of western Minnesota, it should come as no surprise that a random sampling of delegates attending the DFL Congressional District 7 convention on Saturday in Willmar showed one issue to be top of mind.

“Climate change,” said Dave Norling of Melrose when asked what issues were important to him going into this year’s election. “When you think of the storms we had this week,” he added.

According to organizers, they have heard from many people who couldn’t attend the event due to damage to their homes from the windstorm.

That’s not to say those attending the convention were single-focused. Norling mentioned increasing inequalities of wealth as a top-of mind issue.

The attendees arrived with a wide range issues in mind. “I don’t know where to start,” said Alec Olson when asked what issues were on his mind going into the election.

Olson, a Willmar resident, was elected to Congress 60 year ago this year. He remains active in DFL. He acknowledged that there are many issues facing rural districts, but he also had to admit that climate change was on his mind. “I think Mother Nature is trying to get back at us,” he said.

Spencer Norling is a freshman at St. Cloud State University freshman Spencer Norling attended with his father Dave Norling and expressed concern about climate change. He said he’s also concerned about funding for special education. He said that both sides have been unwilling to address funding needs.

“Rural, rural Minnesota, just the whole thing in rural Minnesota,” said Karen Burdick of Ortonville. She stated that rural child care, education and the need for programs to support young people in farming are all important.

“Young people cannot go back to the farm,” said Burdick. She stated that even though parents may own their farms, the economics make transferring the farm to the next generation difficult and often impossible.

But like so many others, Burdick said she can’t help but be concerned about climate change as well. She stated that she and her husband own a beef cattle ranch, and are concerned about how extreme weather is affecting them. The weather in recent years is like no other weather they’ve experienced through their years on the ranch, she said.

“Even our Republican friends are admitting climate change is an issue,” said Burdick. She described the changing climate as a “crisis in the making.”

Richard Kagen from Otter Tail County is an opinion author who is familiar with many of the issues facing the rural area. He noted that many people are talking about inflation and gas prices. He mentioned the need for renewable energy, and policies to encourage them due to climate change.

The convention saw delegates adopt a party platform that identified a range of issues as priorities for DFL in the district. This included education, social justice, and health care.

Delegates endorsed Jill Abahsain, Sauk Centre, to oppose Republican Michelle Fischbach for the Congressional District 7 election. Abahsain addressed the delegates in Willmar by citing her concerns about education and health care as well as the rural needs, which were also raised by attendees. “The preservation and advancement of small town life, rural communities and family farms,” she said, were a priority for her.


Alec Olson (left), who was elected to Congress 60-years ago this year, and Dean Norduane, Wood Lake, visited the DFL Congressional District 7 Convention, Saturday, May 14, 2022, in Willmar. Norduane and Olson both stated that there are many issues to be addressed in the election. However, for them, the priority was to elect a candidate to retake the seat Collin Peterson held for thirty years.

Tom Cherveny/West Central Tribune

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