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Neighbors for Peace to "Raise the Bar" for Democratic Candidates


St. Paul, MN – June 17, 2003 – When national Democratic leaders visit St. Paul next week, Merriam Park Neighbors for Peace and other Minnesota organizations will be on the scene to question presidential candidates, raising the electoral bar for peace, justice, and environmental issues.

The Association of State Democratic Chairs and the Democratic National Committee will convene this weekend at the Radisson Riverfront Hotel at 11 East Kellogg Boulevard in St. Paul. Gearing up for the 2004 presidential elections, Merriam Park Neighbors for Peace will be outside the hotel on Friday, June 20, from 2:30 to 5:30 p.m. to invite the candidates to join concerned Minnesota Democrats in dialogue about critical issues.

"People are leaving the Democratic party in droves, because in recent elections the candidates have become so centrist that they are almost indistinguishable from the Republicans," comments Merriam Park Neighbors for Peace co-founder, Anne Benson. "We want to see the Democratic party return to its progressive roots—to stand up for working people and poor people, and to fight against the regressive domestic and foreign policies of the Bush administration."

The neighbors from the Merriam Park area of St. Paul hold that in recent elections, Democratic candidates have lost their chance to take office because they've neglected the concerns of their own voters.

"It has always been said, 'There are more Democrats than Republicans; we just need to get out the vote,'" states member, Steve Schwarz. "We, however, need a reason to get out the vote. Many Democrats have felt alienated and misrepresented by the party and have looked instead to other alternatives. We believe in the principles that made the Democratic party what it was and still can be today. Remember, we in Minnesota have supported a long line of Democratic politicians who voted on principle and not on predictions of popularity. We expect our candidates to make peace and justice issues a priority."

Adds Benson, "We're encouraging candidates to ask themselves the hard questions: Where are the weapons of mass destruction? Was I misled by the administration when I voted for the War Powers Resolution? How do we get out of this quagmire in Iraq? Does the PATRIOT Act infringe on too many civil liberties?"

Merriam Park Neighbors for Peace has invited all Democratic candidates to meet with them after their sessions conclude on Friday to answer a series of fourteen questions regarding issues of pre-emptive war, international relations, arms development, military spending, V.A. benefits, U.S. economy, social programs, employment, globalization, education, health care, civil liberties, terrorism, and environmental policy. They invite all Minnesotans with these concerns to join them in St. Paul on Friday in addressing the candidates.

"We're not endorsing a particular candidate," group member, Jeanne Schnitzen, notes. "We're giving them all a chance to look us in the eye and answer to the issues we vote for. If they're really in this race to turn the tides, we'll make sure they get that chance. I want to believe there is a Democratic candidate who is capable of sowing the seeds of change."

For additional information about Friday's event, visit the Merriam Park Neighbors for Peace web site at or contact:

Anne Benson

Phone: (651) 647-0580


Krista Menzel

Phone: (651) 641-7592



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Raise the Bar

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