DFL, Secretary Haaland visit Macalester

DFL, Secretary Haaland visit Macalester

Emma Runchey Smalley, Contributing Writer

On Sunday, Oct. 9, Macalester students and St. Paul community members gathered in the Kagin Ballroom to hear from local and state Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party (DFL) candidates, as well as Secretary of the Interior the Honorable Deb Haaland, on the significance of the upcoming Nov. elections.

The event was organized by the Minnesota DFL with help from the student organization Mac Dems. Attendees heard from Haaland, DFL chairman Ken Martin, District 64 Representative Kaohly Her, State Auditor Julie Blaha and Lieutenant Governor Peggy Flanagan. 

Throughout the event, the candidates emphasized the importance of voting. 

“We need you to talk to all of your friends and your family and your neighbors and everybody else who has the right to vote because we need to make sure everybody gets out to vote,” Her explained during her speech. 

The candidates also discussed the importance of protecting reproductive rights in the state of Minnesota. 

“When we talk about access to reproductive healthcare for all Minnesotans who need it, what we’re really talking about is making sure that our young people can achieve their hopes and their dreams, that whatever they want for themselves is possible,” Flanagan said.

Macalester students who attended the event resonated with this message from Flanagan and the other speakers. 

“The ways we were able to hear them speak about messages that connect to us right now, like reproductive rights, is an important thing,” Ellie Spangler ’26 said. 

Will Pierce ’25, the Vice President of Mac Dems, agreed. 

“I think that one of the biggest issues for a lot of people, especially [college students], is reproductive rights,” Pierce said.

Pierce also discussed the process of helping to organize the event. 

“I’m the DFL campus organizer for Macalester, so my job is to turn out the vote on campus,” Pierce said.

Pierce received notice a few weeks ago that Haaland would be coming to campus and immediately set to work preparing for the event. They thought the event went well overall. 

“The candidates were very energetic and so was the crowd,” Riley Hodin ’25 said. “I thought it was a good turnout and everyone seemed to be really excited about the candidates.”

In addition to candidates running in state and local elections, Haaland joined the event to campaign for DFL candidates. In her speech, she touted the accomplishments of Democrats at the national level. 

“I hope that all of you are as fired up as I am,” Haaland said. “If I could, I would knock every single door with you.”

After the candidate speeches, Macalester students split up to door knock across campus. 

“I’m so glad that so many students turned out,” Pierce said. “We knocked [on] every single door on campus and made sure that people are registered to vote.”

Elizabeth Ekstrand ’25 felt similarly to Pierce. While door knocking, she was able to personally help some students register to vote in Minnesota.

“The people that you do [get to talk to] can be really invaluable,” Ekstrand said. “Even if it’s just one person, it’s making a difference. I thought it was a pretty positive experience.”

Throughout the event, speakers called this election “the most important election of our lifetime,” a sentiment that resonated with many students in attendance. 

“I think that every single year [that idea] really rings true,” Pierce said. 

For many students, having an event like this on campus was a meaningful way for them to engage with various issues that may appear on the ballot. 

“It’s important to have [events] like this brought to campus to make sure that the issues that are important to [students] and the ways to participate in them are accessible and available to us,” Spangler said.

Pierce recommended that students check their Secretary of State’s website if they want to learn more about voter registration and rules in their state. They also wanted students to know that Minnesota offers same-day voter registration. The Macalester-area polling location is the Macalester United Plymouth Church, which is located behind Carnegie Hall. 

They also shared ways for Macalester students to get involved in Get Out the Vote efforts both on and off campus. 

“The CEC [Civic Engagement Center] has a lot of different opportunities to get out in the community and also on campus to get people registered to vote,” Piece said. “And if you want to work for the DFL or Mac Dems, you can email [email protected] and we would love to get you involved.”

Candidates and students alike emphasized the importance of civic engagement and getting involved in Get Out the Vote efforts. Haaland finished her speech with a call to action for all the event’s attendees. 

“We have to lace up our tennis shoes,” Haaland said. “We have to take our water bottles. We have to walk and walk and walk and knock until your knuckles are bruised because this election is that important.”

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