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Public, politicians mix at Wadena County GOP event

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Members of the Wadena County Republican Party held a meet and greet for 13 of their representatives and candidates Saturday at Sunnybrook Park North.

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Invited for the late afternoon event were Mark Anderson, a former Wadena resident, Steve Green, Ron Kresha and Mary Frason (state representatives), Paul Gazelka and Bill Ingebrigtsen (state senators), Jeff Johnson, who is running for governor; Torrey Westrom, a candidate for the U.S. House District 7 seat, Stewart Mills, running for the U.S. House District 8 seat; Dan Severson, a candidate for Minnesota state secretary of state; Scott Newman, running for Minnesota attorney general and Randy Gilbert, who is going after the job of Minnesota state auditor. U.S. Senate candidate Mike McFadden was unable to attend.

Richard Osburn, a GOP candidate for Seventh Judicial District judge, made an impromptu appearance..

Politicians answered questions from the crowd, touted their platforms, met one-on-one with the voters and took swipes at Democratic policies during the four-hour-long event.

Mark Anderson's mother, Violet, who remembers her son as being "adventurous" growing up in Wadena, was one of the people on hand to hear their representatives and candidates. Anderson said she believes all of the GOP's candidates as good people and good politicians.

"They are Christian, conservative people," Anderson said.

John Finnegan, who is a member of the Knob Hill Sportsman's Club and is opposed to gun control because he feels it is ineffective, complimented several GOP candidates for their support of the Second Amendment.

"That's why I support these guys, they have been supporters of the Second Amendment," Finnegan said. "I'll probably vote pro-Republican."

Robert Hessling of Wadena said he considers himself a "constitutional conservative" and does not claim to be solidly in either the Democratic or Republican camps. Hessling was impressed with the GOP speakers he heard Saturday.

"They'd doing a good job of sharing a lot of what they do," Hessling, a retired business teacher said.

Hessling said he felt President Barack Obama is currently fumbling the border crisis in the southwestern United States.

"Obama doesn't know what to do," Hessling said. "Obama wants to control the borders but he doesn't know how."

Hessling is also upset with the lack of preparation young people are receiving as they step out into the world. As a former educator, Hessling sees too many kids unable to handle many of the day-to-day decisions life throws at people.

"One of the most serious problems is that kids graduate and they don't know how to live," Hessling said.

Coming up Aug. 12 is the primary election. Election Day for all local, state and federal office candidates is Nov. 4.

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