Belle Plaine’s Barbecue Days is a once a year celebration of small town life. I have been attending for the past few years because as a candidate for Minnesota House Seat 25B, it’s a great way to meet people in the district. Belle Plaine celebration planners put out a new rule this year: “No politicians in the parade.” They claimed our glad-handing was delaying the parade. So 2nd Congressional District Candidate Teresa Daly and I complied with their wishes by walking the route and introducing ourselves to folks on the street before the parade started. But one politician in red did march in the parade, “stretching the envelope” using a corporation for political purposes, or was it using political office to enhance the corporation? Either way…
After greeting people, I volunteered to help in the Belle Plaine BBQ sandwich booth and spent a steamy two hours over cookers of meat rubbing elbows and visiting with folks while we assembled sandwiches for the crowds that rushed to the booth after the parade. Here I am with a Belle Plaine resident making the sandwiches. Behind me you can see a couple of “celebrities” handing out the sandwiches away from the assembly lines. Check here for more. The booth is very clean and well organized by volunteer workers who have been doing this for years and have the system down to a fine art… Tom Neuville displayed his fine sense of humor when he asked whether it was my campaign manager who had arranged for the Northfield Rotary Club to be served pie when he and Ray spoke there recently – my campaign had nothing to do with it but that anonymous donor gave me a great laugh, and I was sorry to disappoint Tom.
Last month, I participated in the Belle Plaine Downtown Cookout, which is the evening that the downtown is blocked off for groups and merchants to offer visitors free food. I had a booth and Corazon Noyes and her son helped out — it was great to work with them and have them introduce me to new friends.
I also had a pie in the park event after door knocking in Belle Plaine last weekend. Members of my Belle Plaine campaign committee joined other residents at Heritage Square Park to enjoy the warm summer breeze, good political conversation and a slice of Minnesota Pie.
We talked about the urgent need for healthcare reform and a jobs program that will guarantee folks a living wage. One citizen was very concerned about the trend of outsourcing good jobs to China and India. He said that the promises of a strong economy 20 years from now would do nothing to bring back his lost benefits and the wages he would have been earning if his job had not been downsized out of existence when the work went overseas.
We also talked about education and the need to invest in schools, not only in k-12 programs, but early childhood programs and post-secondary education. One resident with her young son in tow said she needed all-day kindergarten, and she wondered why it was so hard to get funding for it. Another noted that more and more parents were frustrated with the lack of support for schools and unhappy with options provided, and they were choosing home schooling as a way to educate their children.
Incidentally, I am pleased with Governor Pawlenty’s choice for the new education commissioner. I worked on legislation with Alice Seagren when I was President of the Minnesota Association of Alternative Programs and found her to be a very reasonable person. With education experience and a good understanding and respect for Minnesota schools, something her predecessor, Yecke lacked, she should do very well.
There was consensus at “Bly and Pie” in Belle Plaine that we need a legislature that will get things done for people and not fall into endless bickering over issues that don’t effect the day-to-day issues people face. These monthly gatherings in Wards across the district give us a good chance to get together and talk about issues – it’s as American as apple pie!
Join us Wednesday, July 21 @ 7 pm. at Emmaus Church for the Ward 3 Bly and Pie gathering.
Saturday, July 24, Bly and Pie will be in Lonsdale at the JC Park at 1:00 p.m.