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Grinnell hosts College and Young Democrats of Iowa, local candidates

Grinnell College will be hosting the College Young Democrats of Iowa’s 2012 Convention this Saturday. Austin Frerick, who is president of the organization, expects over 100 attendants from many colleges in Iowa.

Nick Volk and LaForest Sherman, two of the three candidates for senate district 38, chat before the Democratic Forum last Tuesday. Photograph by Emma Sinai-Yunker

“The point of the conference is to help reinvigorate the youth vote for the 2012 Election,” Frerick said. “All these party organizations have come together to plan this. We have worked with the Iowa Democratic Party, Obama for America, and the College Young Democrats of Iowa as we try to achieve the same objective in November.”

Congressman Bruce Braley from Iowa’s 1st District (including Grinnell), Iowa House Representative Tyler Olsen, Deputy Political Director of Obama for America Steve Walker, Grinnell’s own Rachel Bly, a candidate for State House, and others will be speaking in JRC 101 for the convention.

“This is the best line-up we’ve ever had,” Frerick said. “I want people to leave Grinnell knowing three things: knowing that we organized great hospitality for them, knowing that we are organized for 2012, and knowing that they have better connections to network with across the state.”

At the end of Saturday, Frerick has planned a political-themed Pub Quiz in Lyle’s. He hopes that participants build bonds that will be helpful in energizing democratic college students in Iowa, a battleground state, for the 2012 Election.

“Iowa has over thirty institutions of higher education,” Frerick said. “The purpose of the event at the Pub is to get them all together so they get to know each other in an informal setting, so they can reach out to each other and combine forces.”

Frerick encourages Grinnellians to participate in Iowa politics.

“All students are welcome to listen to the speakers,” Frerick said. “This is a good opportunity to see some big name politicians.”

The Grinnell College Democrats also hosted a forum in JRC 101 last Tuesday to introduce the three Democratic candidates for State Senator. Those running for office, opposed and unopposed met and spoke in front of a group of around 30 supporters. The group was made up of students, community members and college staff.

Joseph Engleman ’14 helped organize the event and said that overall, the forum went well.

“There was a great turn out, especially considering that there were a few other events happening on campus,” Engleman said. “We got to hear the three different visions of whom should be running district 38. And I believe they covered a lot of issues that college students want to hear about.”

The Democratic candidates who are unopposed in the primary were introduced first and allowed a brief statement: Rachel Bly for House District 76, Diana Dawley for County Auditor, Tom Kriegel for County Sheriff, and LaMoyne Gaard for County Supervisor. The Forum then featured the three Democratic candidates for Senate District 38: Shelley Parbs of Urbana, LaForest Sherman of Grinnell, and Nick Volk of Walford. Each of the candidates was allowed ten minutes for an opening statement, in which they highlighted their stand on issues such as employment and education.

After their opening statements, the floor was opened to the audience for questions. Each candidate answered to the best of their ability, and admitted when they needed to do more research before making a definitive statement. The forum concluded with closing statements from each of the candidates.

“We heard about what kind of debt level students are going to be graduating with and Monsanto, things like that. Students should know that the district is there to represent them,” said Engleman. He thinks it’s very important to have Democratic forums such as these on campus to keep students involved.

“I think one thing that we talk about a lot here at Grinnell is the divide between campus and community,” added Gracie Brandsgard ’14 Secretary for the national College Democrats of America. “This is a really great way of breaking that down. Having community members and students attend the same event and get informed is something that we should really be looking for.”

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