Election 2008: Griff’s picks

election-2008 Once again, I’m the only leg of the Triumvirate stool with the cojones, Tracy’s gender not withstanding, to publicize who I’m supporting for office in 2008. [Harumph! However, see my final comment below.]

I’m inclined to be even less issues-oriented this election than in the past. Leadership, transparency, citizen engagement, and collaboration are more than ever the characteristics I’m most looking for in candidates.

Northfield Mayor: Mary Rossing. I think both Mary and Paul Hager would serve the city well. I lean towards Mary because I think her more extroverted personality will help to more quickly restore confidence in city hall among the citizenry, engaging us and inspiring us after the tough years we’ve had.  Her willingness to participate here on LG over the past year and then to become a blogger for her campaign are also pluses, as it indicates that a demonstrated belief in transparency and engagement.

Northfield Council, 4-year At-Large: Dana Graham. I think both Dana and Kris Vohs are capable. I lean towards Dana, as I think he’ll be more engaged with the citizenry. Kris has had many years on the Council and hasn’t held many Ward meetings or made use of the internet to make himself and knowledge of the issues more available to citizens. This was sorely needed in the past 18 months of controversy.

Northfield Council, 2-year At-Large: Lynn Vincent. I like her leadership experience in the non-profit and volunteer sector.

Northfield Council, Ward 2: Betsey Buckheit. (I can’t vote for her since I’m a Ward 4 resident.) I’ve been impressed with both Betsey’s and Jerold Friedman’s participation here on LG. Betsey’s deep public policy experience here in Northfield, especially as a member of both the Charter and Planning Commissions, make her the stronger candidate. I hope Jerry continues to get more involved in civic affairs.

Northfield Council, Ward 3: Erica Zweifel. (I can’t vote for her since I’m a Ward 4 resident.)  I like Erica’s experience as a member of the Environmental Quality Commission and now as a charter school board member… not to mention her willingness to engage citizens via the internet via her blog. I’d like to see a longer track record of serving on boards and commissions and other civic engagement by Don McGee to know whether he’d make a good councilor.

Northfield School Board: Diane Cirksena, Rob Hardy, Anne Maple, Ellen Iverson. They have demonstrated a deeper knowledge of the issues than the others, plus a willingness to use the internet to engage citizens.

MN House 25B: David Bly. David’s very accessible — a blogger since 2003 — and I think represents Northfield’s left-of-center constituency quite well.  I’m more of a moderate but Tim Rud’s been running too much on a social conservative values platform.

U.S. House of Representatives, MN District 2: John Kline. I was persuaded by the Strib’s endorsement of Kline over Steve Sarvi. We need more moderate Republicans in Congress and he’s been becoming more moderate/independent over the years.

U.S. Senate, MN: Dean Barkley. The partisan rancor of the Norm Coleman and Al Franken campaigns has been hard to take. I know Barkley’s not likely to win but I still think he’d be a more effective Senator… plus a reasonable check-and-balance on a legislative branch dominated by Democrats.

U.S. President: Barack Obama. Conservative NY Times columnist David Brooks first wrote about Obama’s personal and leadership strengths in October of 2006 and that intrigued me. Once I read Audacity of Hope over a year ago, I became more convinced of his ability to lead the nation in a way that we’ve not seen in my lifetime. Brooks’ column two weeks ago spoke to it again.

As for cojones, if I actually wore a hat in which I actually did real community work like Ross and Tracy have done over the years and continue to do, I wouldn’t publicize my candidate picks either.


  1. Peter Millin said:


    The others don’t really have to, this site speaks for itself.

    POTUS : Mickey Mouse ( it was real toss up between him and Goofy) In short NONE OF THE ABOVE.

    Council Ward 2: Neither one of the candidates really speaks for me. But I have to go with Betsy.

    House: Rud. He is the lesser of the two evils. His campaign (what campaign) is non existent and he has no chance again Bly. But Bly is too far to the left for me when it comes to taxation

    Mayor: Paul Hager. He has a plan and he is open about his intentions.

    US Senate: Coleman. I don’t really think much of him, but I am voting against Franken. After having a pro wrestler for governor do we really need a comedian as senator? Well, maybe if he was funny.
    Otherwise I would vote for Barkley

    US representative. Although he voted for the bailout I have to go with Kline.

    School board: See Griff’s choices. Although the endorsements of the NEA might make me switch my votes in the last minute.

    November 3, 2008
  2. Jerry Bilek said:

    I’ll just point out one flaw in your thinking on Klein.
    From wikipedia:

    Kline was considered to have been the most conservative member of the Minnesota delegation in the 109th Congress, scoring 2.8% progressive on a range of issues[4] and 88% conservative based on 2006 House votes.[5] Minnesota Congressional Districts shows the scores for the entire delegation.

    He has also called himself a fiscal conservative, yet in his time in office our deficit has ballooned from a surplus to some outrageous number.

    I participated in a town hall meeting with Kline on the phone. He admitted the Republicans need to a much better job with regard to fiscal responsibility.

    November 3, 2008
  3. Peter Millin said:


    Ahem…..aren’t the Democrats in charge of congress for the past two years? Don’t they approve or disapprove of the budgets?

    November 3, 2008
  4. Jerry Bilek said:


    the Dems have had control of congress for 2 years. The Republicans held power from 2001-2007 in the White House, House of Rep. and Senate. They pushed through the tax cuts and Bush deserves most of the credit for the war in Iraq. the War was to cost $2-4 billion(Cheney’s words) not $10/month. Even Kline admitted the lack of fiscal responsibility on their part.

    The Dems have to work with the Bush tax cuts, the war and a sinking economy. I think they deserve lots of criticism, but the deficit of the last 7 years is not as much their fault as the Republicans. Haven’t we been warned the Dems are tax and spend liberals and the Reps are fiscal conservatives.

    November 3, 2008
  5. Jane Moline said:

    Griff: Try using logic. Kline is from the radical right-wing of the right wing of the Republican party. You really can’t get more Bush-like than Kline (although for some dumb reason McCain decided to try be more like the shrubmeister.) Please be undecided and change your mind tomorrow. Kline has continually refuted all moderation while in Congress–and I have had several discussions with his office–he won’t budge off of what Bush wants.

    November 3, 2008
  6. I hate Coleman. A lot. I once voted for a professional wrestler over him, and have no regrets. He’s a liar, and he’s one of the main reasons many telemarketers can call people on the do-not-call list.

    But Franken is, if anything, worse. The attack ads on him are stupid, and miss the point. He enthusiastically demonizes people he disagrees with. This is what’s wrong, and putting him in power can’t fix anything.

    I think I’ll go with the independent, too. Sure, he’s got no chance to win, but then, that’s what they said about Jesse Ventura. (Who may not have been the best governor ever, but I think he was the best ticket we had.)

    November 3, 2008
  7. Peter Millin said:


    Bush’s last proposed budget will create a massive deficit, even higher then the last one.
    For the past two years the democrats have NOT opposed the budget. Quiet the opposite they have voted for it.
    The democrats have voted for the reform of medicare and ANY other increase of the budget.
    Both proposals by McCain and Obama will increase the deficit for years to come…..

    November 3, 2008
  8. Griff Wigley said:

    Peter, I’m not sure what you mean by “The others don’t really have to, this site speaks for itself.” Does that mean you think we’re biased politically or biased towards the online-savvy or what?

    November 3, 2008
  9. Jerry Bilek said:

    I don’t see us agreeing on this issue so I’ll bow out and get back to work.

    My larger point was Griff said he was going vote for Kline because he was a moderate Republican. I agree with Griff’s point that we need more moderate Reps. I believe we also need more moderate Dems. I just don’t see Kline as a moderate. His voting record stands for itself. I respect Kline and I appreciated his candor in the town hall meeting. He was definitely critical of the republican fiscal policy of the last 8 years, 6 of which he served as a member of the house.

    November 3, 2008
  10. Peter Millin said:

    This site supports leftist thinking and is bias to that point.
    There is nothing wrong with that, it’s just my personal observation. Most of Northfield is so it’s not a big deal.

    November 3, 2008
  11. Peter Millin said:

    I have no problem confessing that I am a conservative, why do some of you social liberals get so defensive?

    November 3, 2008
  12. Tracy Davis said:

    Peter, what’s “leftist” about Locally Grown? Do you mean the content written by the Triumvirate, or the comments, or both?

    November 3, 2008
  13. Peter Millin said:


    All of the above. IMHO

    November 3, 2008
  14. Peter Millin said:


    In case you forgotten.

    Authorization and Appropriations

    In general, funds for Federal Government programs must be authorized by an “authorizing committee” through enactment of legislation. Then, through subsequent acts by Congress, budget authority is then appropriated by the Appropriations Committees of the House and Senate. In principle, committees with jurisdiction to authorize programs make policy decisions, while the Appropriations Committees decide on funding levels, limited to a program’s authorized funding level, though the amount may be any amount less than the limit.
    In practice, the separation between policy making and funding, and the division between appropriations and authorization activities are imperfect. Authorizations for many programs have long lapsed, yet still receive appropriated amounts. Other programs that are authorized receive no funds at all. In addition, policy language — that is legislative text changing permanent law — is included in appropriation measures.


    November 3, 2008
  15. Ross Currier said:

    Griff –

    You’ve been working with Tracy and me for two years and you think we’ve ever shown political caution and put our careers ahead of our beliefs? Perhaps it’s just that we both lack your belief that other people might want to hear our opinions on the candidates.

    I go back to Tracy’s pre-campaign season post, attempting to focus on issues instead of personalities. My questions reveal my priorities, perhaps more so than those of the candidates. I know what a pain in the butt it must have been for all of them to answer the LoGroNo questions on top of all the others, and I sincerely and heartily thank them for taking the time and thought to participate in our forum.

    I asked the folks in Ward 3, Don McGee and Erica Zweifel, about pedestrian safety. While acknowledging the challenge of crossing Highway 3, Erica put the issue in the larger context of improving connectivity and then scored some extra points by bringing up bike racks and missing the many that were once part of the old library “plaza”. Don seemed particularly passionate about the dangers that Highway 3 presents to pedestrians and then scored some extra points by mentioning his fiscal conservatism. Frankly, I knew that you could count on Westsiders to recognize our community’s considerable issues relating to pedestrian safety; for those folks, these issues are their reality.

    In the crowded At-Large two-year term slot, I asked Joe Gasior, Lynn Vincent, Rhonda Pownell and Victor Summa about their allocation of resources between existing businesses and hoped-for businesses. Lynn scored some quick points by raising the costs vs. benefits analysis that I don’t see often enough in municipal government. She picked up a few more points by looking for more leverage from the City’s investments, and noted that in-fill sites are a cheaper and quicker option for meeting a businesses needs. Victor suggested that the EDA (as economic advisors to the City Council) might have more ideas than dollars but needed to work in collaboration with others to turn some of those ideas to actions. He picked up some extra points by noting that in these times, perhaps the safer, or less speculative, investments made more sense. Joe suggested making investments that could potentially benefit both existing and hoped-for businesses and suggested that transportation might offer some of these types of opportunities. Somebody get him a copy of the NIC Transportation Study. Rhonda looks to leverage more income from visitors. Frankly, I will be pleased if whoever wins this position remembers Northfield’s existing businesses when making economic development decisions.

    I asked the boys in the At-Large four-year race, Dana Graham and Kris Vohs, about assuring that their decision-making process includes stakeholder input. Unfortunately, I initially got things bogged down on the Streetscape projects in general and the pavers in particular. Dana said that he has no problem with stakeholder input, as long as there is good communication with elected officials. Kris said that taxpayers should have input on City spending. Frankly, after watching the Northfield municipal process for the last five years, I am particularly concerned about elected officials’ commitment to stakeholder input and their decisions regarding the taxpayers’ money.

    In Ward 2, we have (I’m only half joking) LoGroNo’s ideal candidates, Betsey Buckheit and Jerold Friedman, who have vigorously discussed the issues with the citizens through this electronic forum. I guess I played to their strength, and or passion, and asked them what method of citizen communication to elected officials they thought was the most appropriate and productive. Jerold offered to do mass e-mailing to and hold ward meetings with his constituents, as well as continue with traditional methods such as making himself available while grocery shopping. Betsey recognized the value of less formal interactions at the coffeehouses but also suggested that recognizing citizen groups could be useful and stated that she will work to strengthen the boards and commissions if elected. In my personal opinion, I think that this issue may be the key to success in Northfield and I am optimistic that the winning candidate from this Ward will be a leader in this area on the Council.

    Finally, we have the candidates for Mayor, Mary Rossing and Paul Hager. It seems that everyone believes that one of the brightest hopes that we have for the future of our community is the high quality of these two individuals. I asked them about four of the many hurricanes that moved through our town in the past eighteen months: Prayer Ladies in the Administrators’ Office, Annexation in the Northwest Territory, the Police Chief’s Charges Against the City Administrator, and the Council’s Efforts to Create a Rental Ordinance. Mary said that there should be no unattended use or special favors in the Administrator’s office, that annexation should be for industrial or business uses, that we should wait for the Goodhue County Attorney, and that City should be concerned for the safety of the citizens and that includes housing. Paul said that there should be no formal prayer meetings in the Administrator’s office, that we need to consider the costs as well as the potential benefits in annexation decisions, that there may be something more than sour grapes behind the former police chief’s charges and that housing IS a city issue. I think that often it is not the six councilors or the mayor who determine the big issues in our community, but that the issues sometimes rise up like a tsunami, and that our leaders have to make a quick judgment on whether it’s going to be a category 2 or category 4, and respond accordingly.

    All of these folks, your fellow citizens, have worked hard, some for many years, in an effort to make Northfield a better place. So go out and vote for some of them tomorrow and thank ALL of them for putting themselves forward for our community.

    Thanks much,


    November 3, 2008
  16. Peter Millin said:

    Good for you Griff. I can only judge you by your current stands. I have no long term history here in Northfield.
    Don’t know much about Neuville, but I wouldn’t consider Cox a conservative.
    You can’t be a true conservative and win an election in this town.No way no how.

    November 3, 2008
  17. Griff Wigley said:

    Peter, as the LG moderator, I do try to make the climate/culture here ‘safe’ for citizens no matter where they fall on the political spectrum. Which is why we’re having an all-inclusive election night party tomorrow night. I hope you’ll be there.

    November 3, 2008
  18. Jerry Bilek said:

    thanks for the civics lesson. I thought this was a discussion about Griff’s picks. I offered my opinion on Kline. Griff called him a moderate, I think he’s wrong and provided some evidence to support my opinion.

    Neuville was and probably is a true conservative and won more than one election here.

    And to defend the folks at locallygrown, they all do an excellent job of running this site and leading these discussions.

    I have no problem confessing I’m a liberal, why are you so defensive? I still believe we need to elect moderates.

    November 3, 2008
  19. Griff Wigley said:

    I don’t know about ‘true conservative’ Peter, but I think the Republican party is better served by moderate conservatives like Ray Cox, Tom Neuville, Al Quie, Dave Durenberger, et al.

    Jane/Jerry, I see Kline moving in this moderate direction.

    November 3, 2008
  20. Peter Millin said:


    You also threw in the fact that “Republicans need to do a better job when it comes to fiscal policy” the better quote would have been “Politicians need to do a better job when it comes to fiscal policy”.

    The notion that Republicans alone are fiscally irresponsible is simply not true. To blame the budget deficit on Bush alone is more of the same Bush bashing.

    I also belief that this site is well run despite it’s bias to the left.

    November 3, 2008
  21. David Henson said:

    One for Peter (and you got my vote) :

    On television today a Democratic operative pointed out that

    When Obama holds a rally 25,000-30,000 people show up, whereas when McCain holds one he only draws 10,000-15,000.

    The Republican spokesman replied,

    “That’s because McCain’s supporters are at work.”

    November 3, 2008
  22. Britt Ackerman said:

    David H:

    That sad old quote is not funny, and you didn’t hear it on television today. I know that because someone forwarded me that “funny” email forward quite a while back.

    In fact, I’m not sure if any “Democratic Operative” ever said that, or if any Republican spokesman ever had the chance to reply. I think it’s just an urban legend, and you’ve assumed its veracity like a lot of others have.

    Here it is from a month ago:

    Here it is from Oct. 13:

    Here it is from Oct. 19:

    I’m offended by the insinuation that Democrats are somehow lazier than Republicans. The issue of rising unemployment is very important, to people of both parties and in fact the entire country.

    There’s some good data on line which is compiled by the U.S. Dept. of Labor (Bureau of Labor Statistics.) Of course, unemployment levels are not delineated by political affiliation, but they are monitored by education level, race, gender, etc.

    This is interesting:

    Over the last year, you can see the increase in the level of unemployment, the dramatic increase in the level of “discouragement over job prospects” (need to read the footnote to see what that means) and the increase in the number of people holding multiple jobs.

    I don’t blame our current economic crisis on Republicans, or even Bush. But I do believe that Reagan was the only Republican to leave office with a lower level of unemployment than when he took office. And I do believe that we can’t solve this crisis by promising not to raise taxes. And I do believe that it’s not fair to claim that we’ll solve the problem by reducing our spending when we know we’re going to continue spending $12 billion a month in Iraq.

    That’s plenty of money to prop up our domestic economy, to bail out some banks as needed, to encourage social programs designed to increase our quality of life, our ability to compete with other nations. That’s like $36 per month for every man, woman and child living in the U.S., going to fund the conflict in Iraq.

    (BTW– I agree this site leans to the left. But it’s not a leftist “bias” because the Triumvirate doesn’t purport to be mainstream media.)

    November 4, 2008
  23. Jane Moline said:

    Peter: Yes, Republicans and President Bush and his administration have been fiscally irresponsible and it is now that they are reaping what they have sown that suddenly they want to “share” across the aisle–but just the blame.

    We can not sustain the level of Republican Administration spending. For 6 of the 8 years of the Bush administration the Republicans have played every trick to make sure the Republican laws were passed. For 8 years we have heard how Democrats were not patriotic enough, how our sons are not worthy, how we are less. I will blame the fiscal crisis on Bush and the Republicans–with a little bit of blame left over for Democrats who refused to stand up to the overwhelming force and propaganda promulgated by the Republicans. And I would love to continue this discussion on the Fiscal crisis thread where it belongs.

    But you can bet even the general electorate has figured out that Bush and company have not been good for them or the country. We want out of Iraq, our of this big Republican voodoo economic mess, and out of the “alternative world” the Republicans have woven for us–time to face the truth.

    November 4, 2008
  24. Peter Millin said:

    I hope you are right Jane it will be better for all of us if you are, but I am not holding my breath.

    Looks like that my wish is coming true and the Democrats will get 60 seats in the senate.

    Which means NO MORE EXCUSES…no more Bush bashing and no more whining.

    This will be fun to watch….LOL.

    November 4, 2008
  25. David Henson said:

    Britt – That was a joke email, Peter was talking about the bias not me, I said “here’s one for Peter” – meaning a joke. I’m one of the old fashioned Americans who believes if freedom – how it effects jobs means nothing to me as freedom is it’s own reward (people used to say “it’s a free country – we never hear that any more – of course today I flew from MSP to LAX and there is nothing free about the process).

    PS. please do not send Rice County to investigate me for plagiarism 🙂

    November 4, 2008
  26. Peter Millin said:

    Too bad it looks like the Democrats are not getting the 60 vote filibuster proof majority in the senate.

    That means more excuses and complaining…too bad.

    Thank you for all the people that voted for me in the school board election.

    November 4, 2008

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