Johnson serves on Minnesota Citizen's Forum

This article submitted by Linda Stelling on 9/17/96.

By Linda Stelling
It started with a telephone poll last spring and the next thing Misty Johnson, Paynesville, knew, she was being asked to serve on a panel for the Minnesota Citizens' Forum.

Johnson, a teacher in the Atwater-Grove City-Cosmos district, said the first conference was held in St. Louis Park. There were about 400 individuals invited to take part in the forum from all parts of Minnesota. "We spent two days in 15 small groups of 25 to 30 people and told to brainstorm, coming up with questions for political candidates on pressing issues," Johnson said. "We were to work questions around the heart of the issues. The group was split randomly."

The Minnesota Citizens' Forum has met five different times since being formed. "I have only been able to meet with the group a couple of times due to conflicting schedules," she said."The forums are a lot of hard work. Everybody brings their own ideas and background into the sessions."

The last forum was held at the Minneapolis Star Tribune booth at the Minnesota State Fair. The panel questioned Seventh Congressional candidates, U.S. Representative Collin Peterson and his opponent Darrell McKigney. Misty's husband, Tom, was asked to join the panel as they were short of people.

Johnson said her concerns were education, the future of the economy and children's issues. "We were given a long list of questions which came out of an earlier brainstorming session," Johnson said. "We were told to start with these questions and then could ask others if there was time."

Johnson said she enjoyed talking with the candidates person to person. "As a voter, I felt I received more pertinent answers to my questions. I have never been a person to go out and campaign for someone but I have always kept a watch of what was happening." Johnson feels by serving on the forum, she is more politically aware of what is going on than before.

Prior to the State Fair forum, Johnson talked with her sophomore class and took their issues and concerns with her to the candidates.

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