Dec. 11 , 2006

A meeting with the president

By Kristen Miller
Staff Writer

Cokato native, Mark Nelson had the opportunity to meet with his old friend, colleague, and the new president of Mexico, Felipe Calderon at his inauguration a week ago.

Nelson, who is currently a social services superior in Duluth, had attended the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University with President Calderon in 1999, where Nelson received a master’s degree in public administration.

Nelson described the program as a mid-career educational opportunity for people in the fields of public service, military, law, medicine, and more.

The program involved 200 students, of which 100 were international students from such places as Russia, Bolivia, China, and of course, Mexico.

At that time, Calderon was one of the leaders of the National Action Party, or PAN, which is a political party of Mexico.

Nelson explained that in 2000, PAN won the presidency, which was the first time in 70 years that the opposition party won the six-year term.

“This was of historical significance,” Nelson said.

Now, the same political party has won for a second time with Calderon.

Calderon was inaugurated Dec. 1, in Mexico City and extended an invitation to his fellow classmates from the Kennedy School of Government, of which 27 attended, Nelson being one of them.

“We weren’t sure if we would be able to see him,” Nelson said, but then, on Dec. 2, they were invited to a small gathering at Los Pinos, which is the Mexican White House, Nelson explained.

Nelson and his fellow colleagues spent two hours with the president-elect.

Nelson was surprised the classmates were chosen to spend Calderon’s first open night as president with him.

“He could’ve had anybody, but it was awesome to be a part of [the event],” Nelson said.

Nelson described the event as a class reunion with social service agents at the White House.

The mayor of Duluth sent with Nelson a letter of congratulations from the City of Duluth and its 86,000 residents to give to Calderon.

Nelson is the son of Wyman and the late Ramona Nelson. He graduated from Cokato High School in 1971.

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