Forest Lake junior serves as legislative page

Garrett Swanson also selected to Boys State

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The first week of March was not just any week for FLHS junior Garret Swanson.

He spent the week running errands as a page for the Minnesota House of Representatives.

“I met the governor, the speaker of the House, and Supreme Court Justice Paul Anderson,” Swanson said.

Serving as page to District 39A Rep. Bob Dettmer, that’s how he spent most of his time.

But the job actually took him to both sides of the aisle. “I got to run notes for both Republicans and Democrats,” he said. Swanson sat on the House floor and delivered papers between the representatives and people outside the chamber.

And unlike what is shown on TV, he said, it was not dull. “Actually, it’s loud and lively, really informal, a lot going on.”

The page program runs eight weeks; Swanson participated in Week 2. The legislature was debating healthcare, specifically the Affordable Care Act: Should Minnesota adopt the national system, or create its own?

That was a topic that Swanson had researched for high school debate competition, so he knew the issues.

“I did learn it’s pretty bipartisan here,” he said. “Both sides want what’s best for Minnesota.”

Besides getting to know Dettmer, Swanson said he also came away impressed with Minority Leader Kurt Daudt from District 31A west of Isanti. “He’s young. It’s his first time in office, and he’s already minority leader.”

Swanson was one of three Forest Lake students competing for two page jobs.

Next summer he plans to embark on a more competitive venture: In June he hopes to run for governor at the 64th annual American Legion Boys State, to be held on the campus of Southwest Minnesota State University in Marshall.

Boys State participants are named through cooperation of the Legion posts, high school faculty, and leading citizens in the community.

The boys organize and operate their own city, county, and state governments.