Wadena County residents interested in the grass roots work of the caucus system streamed out in numbers that didn't disappoint, Tuesday, Feb. 25.

There were some fears that having both a caucus and primary election might decrease participation, but those that attended were able to fully participate and provide representation for the next step of the process.

Here's a brief overview of some of the action from the night.

Wadena County Republicans

At the Wadena Pizza Ranch, 37 Republican community members from Wadena township and precincts 1-3 and Leaf River precincts 1-2 selected delegates and discussed the resolutions of opposing comprehensive sex education, opposing drag queen story hours and opposing social justice indoctrination in school literature.

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The three Wadena County Republicans locations in Sebeka, Verndale and Wadena totaled 86 people, according to chairman of Wadena County Republicans Sheldon Monson. Monson spent the evening answering questions on what needed to be completed as people conversed with their neighbors on the resolutions, all in the manner of participating in the election process.

The Wadena County Republicans met in three locations, including the Wadena Pizza Ranch on Tuesday, Feb. 25.  Thirty-seven community members attended the Pizza Ranch site. Chairman Sheldon Monson answered questions while resolutions and delegates were discussed.
Rebecca Mitchell/Pioneer Journal
The Wadena County Republicans met in three locations, including the Wadena Pizza Ranch on Tuesday, Feb. 25. Thirty-seven community members attended the Pizza Ranch site. Chairman Sheldon Monson answered questions while resolutions and delegates were discussed. Rebecca Mitchell/Pioneer Journal

Wadena resident Muriel Juers sees the new caucus system as a way to have better discussions.

“This seemed like it was easier just to do this without doing the counting," Juers said. "When we did the counting, people were anxious to vote and go and they weren’t concentrating on what we were doing and this seemed like tonight that we did more discussing and talking between ourselves.”

The grassroots level of the process is what remains important, Monson said. Wadena resident Lloyd Lanz also sees this value, with a preference for the caucus system rather than the primary system.

“The purpose is to allocate the Republican Party delegates, it should go through the Republican grassroots people who are involved, not just open it up to the general public. … But the caucus screwed up four years ago, for some reason they didn’t think they were going to have lots of people so ... ,” Lanz said.

Both Juers and Lanz plan to vote for Donald Trump in the primaries.

DFL caucus in Wadena

About 30 attended the Wadena County Democratic-Farmer-Labor caucus at the Wadena-Deer Creek Middle High School. Nearly all in attendance became delegates as many of the precincts had one to five attendees. Attendees commented that attendance was down from the previous caucus which featured Bernie Sanders as the Democratic candidate. Considering the change to a caucus and primary system, some members said they were pleased there was that many in attendance. Others commented that they missed voting for their presidential candidate.

Rita Askew, a regular caucus attender for most of her 66 years, said she still came out because this is where neighbors get to come together and talk about important issues.

Askew and Onnie Sharp Anderson were both seated at Wadena's precinct 2 table. Both agreed that there was a buzz in the Democratic field that brought hope not just for this presidential election but for many to come.

Katherine (left) and Walter Ribeiro discuss resolutions during the Wadena County Democratic-Farmer-Labor caucus Tuesday, Feb. 25, at the Wadena-Deer Creek Middle/High School.
Michael Johnson/Pioneer Journal
Katherine (left) and Walter Ribeiro discuss resolutions during the Wadena County Democratic-Farmer-Labor caucus Tuesday, Feb. 25, at the Wadena-Deer Creek Middle/High School. Michael Johnson/Pioneer Journal

“There’s good energy in the Democratic party right now,” Anderson said. “Because we do get to look at a variety of candidates, we get to field them and the good energies that we have now, we may have in four years. So having a number of candidates out there to talk does provide a vision for the future, which is a good thing, because if you are locked into one person and there’s no vision and no argument, no discussion -- you're stuck with it.”

“Like Trump,” Askew said.

They both saw purpose in attending the caucuses.

“It’s a good way to find out what’s going on, and see old friends that are like thinking,” Askew said.

Neither had voted early or had a preferred candidate they cared to share about Tuesday night.

“We want somebody that can defeat Trump,” Askew said.

Some resolutions shared at the DFL caucus included one about implementing green energy storage and creating more accessible renewable energy to lower income individuals in relation to the Green New Deal. Another resolution sought to reduce the use of chemical sprays in road ditches in an effort to reduce the killing of plants and animals that live in and around the highway systems that cover all parts of the state and country.