Improving the state-local relationship sparked constructive debate amongst the candidates for governor and state auditor who joined the Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities (CGMC) in Winona August 19. The candidate forums, held during CGMC’s annual summer conference and coordinated by attorney/lobbyist Bradley Peterson, featured gubernatorial candidates Mark Dayton and Tom Horner (Rep. Tom Emmer declined his invitation due to scheduling conflicts), and state auditor candidates Rebecca Otto and Pat Anderson. Star Tribune political editor Pat Lopez moderated the governor’s debate and asked pointed questions on issues ranging from Local Government Aid, health care, transportation, and the state budget deficit. The CGMC candidate forums received statewide media attention and had members buzzing about the upcoming elections.

The summer conference, a three-day event hosted by a CGMC member city, also included a legislative awards dinner at which the Coalition honors legislators and individual CGMC members who made significant contributions to advancing rural issues at the Capitol in the preceding session. In addition to award presentations, this year’s dinner featured keynote speaker Kerri Miller of Minnesota Public Radio, who gave members pointers on improving their media relations. Members were also impressed with their host, the City of Winona, for organizing a night out at the Minnesota Marine Art Museum and a tour of municipal projects. The staff at Flaherty & Hood looks forward to coordinating the upcoming fall conference in Alexandria and next year’s summer conference in Grand Rapids.