ST. PAUL—Gov. Mark Dayton and GOP challenger Jeff Johnson will debate head-to-head for the first time at a gubernatorial forum co-sponsored by the Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities, Post Bulletin and the Rochester Area Chamber of Commerce. Independence Party candidate Hannah Nicollet has agreed to participate as well.

The forum, slated to be the first of the campaign season for the three major-party candidates running for governor, will be held at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 1 at the Mayo Civic Center in Rochester. The event is free and open to the public. It will also be broadcast live on Minnesota Public Television Association stations across the state.

Jay Furst, managing editor of the Post Bulletin, will moderate the forum, which will focus on issues that are of particular importance to communities, businesses and residents in Greater Minnesota. Possible question topics include local government aid/property taxes, transportation, broadband expansion, environmental regulations and job training.

“We are pleased that the candidates have shown an interest in Greater Minnesota by agreeing to participate in our forum and making it the first debate of the season,” said Heidi Omerza, CGMC president and a member of the Ely City Council. “Although all three candidates live in the metro area, it is extremely important for the future of our rural communities, and the entire state, that we have a governor who is informed and engaged on rural issues.”

Omerza continued, “We look forward to a lively and thoughtful discussion on the issues that are vital to the continued health and economic growth of Greater Minnesota.”

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