ST. PAUL — Four candidates have filed to be on the 2020 ballot for Minnesota's 22nd Senate District. They shared some of their goals and priorities with The Globe.
Occupation: Direct Support Professional for adults with disabilities
Current residence: Luverne
Party: Grassroots-Legalize Cannabis
What qualifications do you have for the office of Minnesota Senator? I was a dean's list student at National American University, where I earned my business administration degree. I have dedicated the rest of my life to stand up for people with disabilities, and the people of Minnesota. I have run for Minnesota State office the last couple of elections. I have determination and dedication that helped me lose almost 200 pounds, and will bring this energy to St. Paul.
What are your top priorities in state government?
- Medicare For All healthcare (which includes medical, mental health, and dental ... and doesn’t need to be on private insurance with an employer). We have to understand that we already pay for health care through our taxes, and our current Republican Senate is trying to get rid of it. We must stand up for the people, not corporate interests.
- Green New Deal. Our environment, especially in the state of Minnesota, is one of our greatest resources, and the Republican Senate want to loosen regulations and help factory farms that use harmful chemicals for their crops. I know you don’t believe that wind power causes cancer, so please don’t lead into the hype. We need more solar and wind power in Minnesota, so we are not reliable on corporate oil interests.
- Legalization of cannabis. Legalize. Regulate. Tax. We need to stop the war on drugs. The lie that cannabis is a gateway drug is false, especially when cannabis would be sold at a dispensary, not a back lot somewhere. The tax revenue would also give us revenue for projects that are usually neglected, such as roads and water infrastructure, and education.
How will you advocate for the needs of rural Minnesota in St. Paul? Our campaign will stand up for our family farmers, advocate for rural development, creating rural jobs, rural broadband, and road and water infrastructure upgrades that are needed in Greater Minnesota.
Please describe your vision for recovering from economic losses caused by COVID-19. We are in this together. We will get through this together. In time we will be able to live our lives like normal, but for now we have to stand up for what this situation has harmed the most — the people. We need to make things easier for our individuals on unemployment, offer better health care insurance and offer jobs with a living wage.
What do you see as the best solution for preventing deaths like that of George Floyd? We must defund the police slowly. The police need to go through training to deal with situations like this, so we can trust this will not happen again. We must have trained community service-type individuals to handle non-lethal situations. We need to demilitarize the police and have them protect and serve, not harm and kill. #sayhisname #blacklivesmatter #dontremainsilent
Occupation: Writer, inventor, semi-retired
Current residence: Pipestone
What qualifications do you have for the office of Minnesota Senator? Youth group treasurer in Christian Reformed church in Leota; treasurer, dorm hall counsel at Calvin College; security department, Calvin College; adult Sunday School teacher and Superintendent at Pipestone Christian Reformed church; first chairman of the board, Pipestone County Food Shelf; Church board and Sunday School teacher, Pipestone ELCA. If you know your Bible and live right with good judgment, it makes it possible to be a church leader in both conservative and liberal churches.
I worked on a large dairy on the west coast to start my own farm. I farmed all the way through the '80s and raised some purebred registered Hampshires, Durocs and Yorkshires in Pipestone County. Inspector for computer parts factory (HTI). BA Calvin University Business Administration, BS SMSU Business Management, BA Augustana University Religion Ethics concentration. I am currently on the Pipestone Planning Commission.
What are your top priorities in state government? My top priorities for Minnesota politics are to keep our state very good at education, roads, criminal justice, parks and the basic services that the state offers. We have had a very good state my whole life, and I would like to keep it that way. To afford more new programs in a pandemic is not wise. We could just not build new school buildings for a year to get through the pandemic shortfall in revenue, so we can continue our heritage of great education at the classroom level.
How will you advocate for the needs of rural Minnesota in St. Paul? I recommended a bill to raise the alcohol in ethanol back to 10% in Minnesota. I sent this to the Democratic chair of the House Agriculture Committee. Farmers are mostly in a strong financial position from the profitable years of 2011 through 2015, but they are not making money now. They need a better market. Current Sen. Bill Weber, chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee, co-authored a bill to keep the waivers to the oil companies in place. That is the trigger that made me run for his spot. You do not drain the swamp by putting a lying bully in charge, but by replacing those who are not doing their job correctly. We need an advocate for our markets for farmers. We also need our roads in good shape, such as Highway 14.
Please describe your vision for recovering from economic losses caused by COVID-19. We can dream all we want to about how we want COVID-19 to be over, but in reality, our success in finding a vaccine or finding safe ways to live in it will make the new reality. We have already seen much improvement in safer work places which have led to reopening many businesses. Capitalism brought us lots of masks, and will get us through this economic problem in the best and most efficient way.
What do you see as the best solution for preventing deaths like that of George Floyd? Now we have all seen when George Floyd got murdered by a cop who callously looked at someone taking a picture and seemed to think that after getting by with 12 complaints with no convictions, that he could get by with anything. The Bible says, “To whom much is given, much will be required.” A police officer and the courts are given much authority to stop crime, so must also stop crime of other police officers. But two policemen in Atlanta got devious. The mayor of Atlanta said that the cops touched Mr. Brooks's genitals to set him off, and she said she was really pissed off about it. So I watched the video closer and she was right. Those two cops wanted to produce a video of a black man resisting arrest, so they did. This is not a proper way to sway public opinion.
To write good laws, we must both look at the big picture and notice the details so we do not get fooled.
Occupation: Mental health therapist
Current residence: Luverne
What qualifications do you have for the office of Minnesota Senator? I grew up an older child of a single mother. So I know what it was like to utilize food pantries and free school lunch programs. I know how so often these programs are the last line of defense for a child going to bed hungry or with a full belly at night. I am the first person to attend college in my family, so I know what it’s like to go forward on a path that is uncharted, I know the grit and determination it takes to do that. I also know how education can be crucial to future success, which is why it is such a priority for me that all children are able to receive high quality education. In my work in mental health, I have been able to work with a wide variety of populations and have experience hearing them, advocating for them, and fighting for what is right.
What are your top priorities in state government? Help guide the state through the recovery from COVID-regain our economic surplus and protect the programs that are integral to the success of our citizens. As we work toward regaining that surplus, I would like to work toward fully funding education, promoting fair and modern labor laws in the state, creating incentives to invest in independent sustainable farming, creating accountability within the police departments and building a Minnesota that creates the social and economic safety nets that can carry us all into the future.
How will you advocate for the needs of rural Minnesota in St. Paul? I would like to fight for rural Minnesota through the following measures:
incentives to invest in independent, sustainable farming
building local economies by drawing jobs to those areas through competitive wages and positive work environments
investigating clean energy solutions for the future of farming, ethanol and the rural economy
investing in mental health and health care programs and services in rural communities
fighting for broadband services to be available throughout Greater Minnesota
creating a Health Emergency Crisis Plan for guidelines on future health crises that addresses individual area differences (responses that are right for Minneapolis and St. Paul are not always what is right for Greater Minnesota)
Please describe your vision for recovering from economic losses caused by COVID-19. There will need to be compromises made and restructuring done. It will be important to know and draw the line on where we can make those compromises and where we cannot. We will need to make sure we are protecting the people of Minnesota, even as we move to recover economically. This will take a level of bipartisanship that I know that we can accomplish here in Minnesota. I believe it will also entail a restructuring and prioritizing of our tax system. We can also look at creating new sources of revenue to assist us in protecting some of the programs we cannot compromise on, such as education. One of these new sources of revenue could be a legalized marijuana industry.
What do you see as the best solution for preventing deaths like that of George Floyd? The murder of George Floyd, as well as numerous people of color prior to him, is demonstrative of the serious cultural problem that we have in terms of racial injustice. It will need to be examined and fought at every level of our society. From our hearts and families, to our schools, to our workplaces, to our police forces and justice systems, all the way up to the state government. I have proposed creating a Citizens Police Accountability Board for every district in the state to investigate all reports of unethical police behavior. We will need to increase education for police officers, as well as in workplaces and schools, on cultural competence. We will need to call out and actively work to address all aspects of racism that we encounter. We will need to stand together to move our society forward, and that comes with acknowledging where our current deficits are with complete honesty. We will also need to create a culture and programs where our youth all have equal opportunities and are being taught the message that every child, regardless of gender, race, or sexual orientation, will be able to pursue and accomplish their dreams in a society that respects and values them.
Bill Weber (incumbent)
Occupation: Real estate broker and appraiser
Current residence: Luverne
What qualifications do you have for the office of Minnesota Senator? I am finishing by second term as State Senator. I also spent 16-plus years in local government as a council member and mayor. In addition, I am a lifelong resident of the district and have been in business in Luverne for 44 years.
What are your top priorities in state government? Providing common sense solutions to the many issues of a struggling economy as a result of COVID-19 and the governor’s extended shutdown. Also putting in place workable solutions for improving health care, education and restoring law and order to the metro area — recognizing the need for racial equality and ensuring that opportunities are open to all.
How will you advocate for the needs of rural Minnesota in St. Paul? I have a proven record of reaching across the aisle to get things done, such as when as a freshman member of the minority caucus, I helped to start the funding process to complete the Lewis & Clark water project. As a committee chair, I worked with the DFL House chair to put together a bipartisan ag policy bill which was passed in 2020, a very trying year. I have never been shy about speaking up for the needs of the people, business, farmers, students and elderly residents of the district, and I will not stop doing so.
Please describe your vision for recovering from economic losses caused by COVID-19. We have seen the problems with coming up with a “one size fits all” closedown of the economy. Businesses must be allowed to function very safely and with common-sense guidelines. The state should re-examine many of its rules, regulations and tax laws to help businesses in the reopening process. It is expected that not all businesses will return to their pre-COVID level, and the state should not add to that financial burden.
What do you see as the best solution for preventing deaths like that of George Floyd? There is no question that Mr. Floyd’s death should never have happened. There need to be stricter rules within departments and within the police union to remove bad officers. There will always be a few bad people in every profession. It is not fair to judge all by those few. As legislators, we must not abandon law enforcement. Currently the Minneapolis City Council's decision to defund police while spending money for private security for some of its members is the height of hypocrisy. A thorough examination of those areas with problems should be made, and changes where changes are warranted should be implemented. The law only works when it is fairly applied to all.