My Point of View: Empowering our community through civic engagement classes

Published 8:45 pm Tuesday, March 26, 2024

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My Point of View by Brad Kramer

In my last column, I discussed the importance of civic engagement, and I’m thrilled to announce an exciting opportunity for our community. The Freeborn County GOP is organizing a series of classes on civic engagement, aimed at empowering citizens to become more involved in politics at all levels. As our county GOP continues to grow, fueled by frustration with the status quo, we want to extend a warm invitation to more citizens to join us in shaping the future of our community and nation.

Brad Kramer

These classes will feature roundtable discussions with local and state representatives, providing valuable insights into various aspects of civic participation.

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Whether you’ve ever considered serving on a board or committee, or even running for office, these classes will equip you with the knowledge and tools to take the first steps. Our goal is for quarterly roundtables that will be free to the public, and last between one to two hours. As we get more engagement and hear from you, our community, about what topics you’d like to learn about related to civic engagement, we plan to add more topics in the future.

Here’s a sneak peek at some of the topics we’ll cover:

1. Meetings: Understanding Robert’s Rules of Order and other meeting decorum. If you’ve ever felt lost in local meetings and committees, this class will provide a primer on how these gatherings operate, fostering greater civic engagement within our community.

2. Local government: Gain insights into how our local government functions from city councilors, county commissioners, school board members and watershed board representatives. Discover the roles they play, how they are appointed or elected and the impact they have on our community.

3. Learning about candidates: Cut through the campaign noise and learn how to research candidates effectively, particularly judicial candidates whose platforms may be less visible. By understanding their backgrounds and track records, we can make more informed decisions at the ballot box. Judicial candidates often put out little or no information. In our own county, many voters get frustrated because we see our judges frequently sentence repeat violent offenders with minimal sentences, only to reoffend and harm our community.

4. State and federal government: Engage in discussions with state and federal leaders, including Rep. Peggy Bennett, Sen. Gene Dornink, and former Rep. Dan Dorman. Learn about the inner workings of government, the role of lobbyists and the challenges and opportunities they bring to the political landscape.

5. Election process: Dive into the intricacies of the election process, from local nonpartisan offices to federal roles. If you’ve ever thought about running for office, this class will provide valuable insights into how elections are conducted and how candidates are nominated.

Our goal is to make government more accessible and transparent through education, with experienced local leaders sharing their expertise. Rep. Peggy Bennett, Sen. Gene Dornink, Commissioner Brad Edwin, City Councilor Rachel Christensen, School Board Member Angie Hoffman, attorney Matt Benda, along with county GOP Chairman Robert Hoffman and other community leaders, will be leading these informative sessions.

As I brought up in the previous column, our community and nation rely upon citizen representatives, not career bureaucrats. Many committees and boards cannot find active and engaged citizens to join, so those positions end up being held by the same person for many years, or leads to a small group that is overworked, and the entire mission of that board can fail. In other cases, important boards fill up with people just trying to pad their resume who don’t contribute, but the board feels like they need to take anyone who will even express interest in joining to have enough members. We want to empower more citizens to become involved and share their passions and skills. A knowledgeable public makes it more difficult for dishonest bureaucrats to keep citizens out of important decision-making processes. That is how we prevent “good ol’ boy” politics.

To stay updated on these classes and other important news, we invite you to follow our new Facebook page at We’ll be actively sharing updates and engaging with you on the issues that matter most to our community.

Watch for more information as we announce the time and location of upcoming classes. Join us as we embark on this journey of civic empowerment.

Together, we can build a stronger, more informed community and shape a brighter future for Freeborn County.

Brad Kramer is a member of the Freeborn County GOP Party.