Officials of 75 Greater Minnesota cities will meet in Winona for a conference starting Thursday, with a truncated gubernatorial debate serving as a highlight of the gathering.
Republican candidate Tom Emmer won’t attend Thursday’s 4 p.m. debate, citing a scheduling conflict, leaving DFLer Mark Dayton and Tom Horner of the Independence Party more time on the stage at the newly expanded Winona County Historical Society.
MPR reported that Emmer apologized to the Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities:
“They are very important. It’s just one of those scheduling things,” Emmer said. “We’ve had a candidate [Democrat Mark Dayton] now for a week and we’ve already had three debates.”
But Timothy Strand, mayor of St. Peter and president of the Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities said this in a statement:
“There is no better opportunity to explain why you will be a champion for rural Minnesota than by debating the other candidates for governor in front of the mayors, city council members, and city staff that make up the Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities. That is why we are disheartened that Rep. Emmer has declined this opportunity. We hope Rep. Emmer reconsiders his invitation and joins Mark Dayton and Tom Horner in an open and honest conversation on the critical issues that will affect the 2.4 million Minnesotans living in greater Minnesota. We also hope Rep. Emmer reevaluates the message that his absence at this critical forum sends to greater Minnesota communities.”
The Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities summer conference also will feature:
- A state auditor candidate forum
- 2010 Jobs bill panel
- “Square-off” between Reps. Marty Seifert and Tom Rukavina on whether conservative or progressive policies are better for rural Minnesota
- Legislative awards dinner with keynote speaker Kerri Miller
Those attending the conference will also get to tour some Winona sites, including improvements to the city waste water treatment plant.