Caucuses set for grassroots government

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Residents of Dickinson County will be following the tracks of their preferred party mascot to one of two locations Feb. 5 for the Republican and Democratic caucuses. Democrats will be meeting at 7 p.m. in the Okoboji High School Commons in Milford. Republicans will meet at 7 p.m. in the Dickinson County Expo Building in Spirit Lake. Organizers say the events serve as a starting point of sorts and may ripple out to the state-level. Both parties plan to discuss and adopt resolutions for their respective platforms as well as elect various delegates and alternates for the county convention and central committee.

"It really is a grassroots type process," County Republican Party Chair Dave Rowley said.

Rowley said the county has 15 precincts and two delegates will be selected from each precinct by county Republicans to represent them at the county Republican convention March 10, before possibly moving on to the district and state conventions.

"It's at the Dickinson County Convention they can integrate the platform issues we have locally," Rowley said, noting topics like water quality or other important topics could be made platform planks. "It's great representative government."

Likewise, the Democrats will be creating their party platform and electing delegates to serve during the March 24 county Democratic convention. County Democratic Party Chair Harold Prior said approximately 50 delegates will be selected during the convention process, and the next step will be to send delegates to the District 4 convention in Fort Dodge.

Prior stressed the importance of public participation in the election process.

"People complain about what's going on, but they don't get out and make their voice heard," Prior said. "I just want to remind people there was a state house position in Virginia that was decided by drawing a name out of a hat because, out of several thousand votes, it was at tie."

Both Rowley and Prior said newcomers to the convention will be warmly welcomed. Doors will also be open early at both caucuses to allow the public to register if they have need. Rowley said residents caucusing for the first time may want to take the opportunity to meet other voters and talk with local legislators to become familiar with the process. He said the precinct leaders will be on hand to guide the process along. Prior echoed Rowley and said veteran caucus goers are always present each year to help newcomers find their way and participate in the process.

"We'll make this as easy as possible," Rowley said.

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