26 Sep 2010

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Indus School students to host political forum

by Milla Rodgers

Event features District 3A state representative candidates Tom Anzelc and Marv Ott

Sophomore, junior and senior classes from Indus School will present “Voices from Northern Minnesota: The Rural Issues Series,” a two-part issues forum featuring District 3A state representative candidates Tom Anzelc and Marv Ott.

The first forum will be held Thursday from 6-8 p.m. at the Brink Center in Baudette. The second forum will be held in the Rainy River Community College theater from 6-8 p.m. Oct. 14. Both events are free and open to the public.

English and social studies students from Indus School, under the guidance of social studies teacher Corinne Anderson, English teacher Wade Sutton and technology coordinator Dianne Tillman, have been working on the forums since last spring.

The main purpose of the project is to bring to life for students the importance of civic involvement and voter education in the election process, Tillman said. The project is also intended to strengthen American democracy by developing in students a life-long interest and participation in government.

Tillman said that it is often difficult for students and voters to find issue-based information on candidates. Tillman stressed that this event is non-partisan, and questions will focus on local topics specific to the county and border region.

Students have viewed other issue forums, researched and discussed issues of particular significance to northern Minnesota, made arrangements for donations of refreshments, written scripts for the moderators and are in the process of taking care of all the logistical details.

Junior Chris Pokorny explained that these forums are a culmination of sorts.

“Students who are now juniors, toured the state Capitol as sixth graders, then in the eighth grade they visited the Capitol again and had the opportunity to speak to state Rep. Anzelc,” he said.

In 2008, the three candidates for state House — Tom Anzelc, Bill Hamm and Marv Ott — spoke with high school students at Indus about local issues. “So it should come as no surprise,” said Pokorny, “that we are now hosting these issues forums.”

Tillman said school officials and students hope to host similar events each election to help students get hands-on knowledge, even before many of them are able to vote. And because the events are open to the community, they are also a chance for voters to listen to the candidates.

League of Women Voters guidelines will be followed. Questions from the public will be submitted in written form and will focus on education and northern Minnesota economy for the forum in Baudette and education and community health for the forum at RRCC.

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