DFL gubernatorial debate has U focus

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All the candidates at Tuesday night’s DFL gubernatorial debate agreed on the problem of rising tuition, citing a need for state investment in education and increased student involvement in elections.

Three DFL candidates, state Sen. Becky Lourey, real estate developer Kelly Doran and state Sen. Steve Kelley, answered questions moderated by University DFL Vice President Kelly Kubacki on Tuesday evening at Coffman Union.

When asked about their opinion on the University’s realignment plan, only Steve Kelley offered specifics.

Andy Lee, a sophomore political science student, said he was most impressed with Kelley for knowing about the realignment, but didn’t necessarily agree with his stance on the issue.

“(Strategic positioning) is all well and good and it will make my diploma look better,” Lee said. “But it has cut a lot of my friends out of coming here,” he added, referencing the restructuring of the General College.

Lee said he thought the question about strategic positioning posed by Kubacki was “a little mean” and that as far as strategic positioning goes, in the end, the decisions are left to the Board of Regents.

U-DFL member Nicolas Allyn, a senior political science student, said it is important for candidates to know about policies at the University regardless of whether they have the power to influence them.

Allyn said students need to do more than just take one day out of their life to vote.

“There’s a lot of apathy on this campus, as you can see from tonight,” Allyn said, referencing the turnout of about 50 students.

Noah Seligman, U-DFL secretary, said the debate was important because candidates need to distinguish themselves from one another for the March 7 precinct caucus.

While candidates spoke about environment, education and the economy, a lack of specific examples left some students confused.

Alyssa Lochner, a first-year student, said she attended the debate because she hadn’t paid attention to state politics in the past. She said she wanted to know more about the candidates before she was eligible to vote in her first election.

After the debate Lochner said that while all the candidates agreed on what Gov. Tim Pawlenty has done wrong, they didn’t offer specific solutions.

“They’re not really telling me what they’re going to do to fix that,” she said.

All of the candidates urged students to take political action.

“My generation is doing a pretty good job of trying to screw your generation,” Doran said. “And that’s wrong.”

Doran cited diminishing Pell Grants and increasing national debt as examples of burdens that will be placed on future generations.

Kelley said he recognized concerns about student participation in politics, but didn’t take apathy as a given.

“I think the caucus process is a wonderful opportunity for students to get involved,” he said.

“Students need to take action this year,” Kelley said. “We need you to participate in the caucuses.”

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