Local political candidates speak to Rochester Somali community a - KTTC Rochester, Austin, Mason City News, Weather and Sports

Local political candidates speak to Rochester Somali community at forum


Election season is in full swing, and many local candidates up for election spent Sunday talking to Rochester's Somali community.

Nearly 20 candidates took part in the STEM Academy candidate forum Sunday afternoon. The forum included candidates from the Rochester Public School Board, Rochester City Council, Olmsted County Board of Commissioners, and the Minnesota House and Senate. Each candidate had 10 minutes to speak to the audience.

Candidates said it was important to talk to the Somali community in order to make sure all the voices in the city were heard.

"When you feel marginalized or left out, you have a different point of view," said John Wayne Austinson, who is challenging Rep. Nels Pierson for Minnesota House District 26B. "That's why it's important. Me being a teacher for 25 years, I've had the spectrum of kids and you have to make sure you can fit them all in. They're all important."

Austinson, Fran Bradley from District 25B, Rep. Tina Liebling from District 26A, and Will Waggoner from District 26A were the Minnesota House candidates who came to the forum.

From the Minnesota Senate, Sen. Dave Senjem from District 25 made an appearance, as did Sen. Carla Nelson and her challenger Rich Wright from District 26.

Rochester Public School Board candidates included Richard Hinds and his challenger Don Barlow, Mark Schleusner, and Bobbie Gallas. Gallas' opponent, incumbent Deborah Seelinger, sent a representative in her place.

Rochester City Council president Randy Staver and city council candidate PJ Day also made appearances at the forum.

From the Olmsted County Board of Commissioners, Paul Wilson and challenger Gregg Wright both showed up.

Congressman Tim Walz was scheduled to make an appearance as well, but due to other commitments his campaign manager filled in for him.

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