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Meet the DFL candidates in 1st Congressional District special election primary

Winners will advance to Aug. 9 election where they will vie to serve out late Rep. Jim Hagedorn's term.

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Sarah Brakebill-Hacke
Sarah Brakebill-Hacke.
Contributed

Name: Sarah Brakebill-Hacke

Residence: Preston, Minn.

Political Party: DFL.

Family: two boys, ages 11 and 9.

Education: Rochester Community and Technical College (AA) 2018; Yale University (BA) global affairs (2021); University of Cambridge, MPhil candidate, human evolutionary studies (graduate 2022).

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Political experience: Former owner of political consulting business (7 years), former Student President RCTC, former Yale College Council Senator.

Website: www.sarahbrakebillhacke.com .

What would be your top three priorities if elected?

Healthcare. What people of this district want to hear about is healthcare. Our community has committed $5.6 billion and attracted additional private investment to develop Rochester into Destination Medical Center, the nation’s leading destination for people to come and get well. We also have an obligation to provide quality care to all our citizens.

Seniors. We can do better caring for our seniors; 5 million are currently living in poverty. The average senior takes 4.5 medications at an average price of $30,000 per year, while Social Security pays an average of $16,000 per year. We need to cap the prices of prescription drugs, expand Social Security, provide comprehensive in-home care, assisted living choices, and provide this care without depleting people’s assets to do so.

Education. Our schools in Minnesota are good, and our teachers are great. We need to make sure that our curriculum is preparing our children for the next generation economy, and fully engaging parents as stakeholders while we create an inclusive, safe and respectful learning environment for our students. We need to pay teachers like the front-line heroes that they are, in line with firefighters, law enforcement, and other traditionally male community-based professions.

1. Inflation is at a four-decade high, eroding people’s purchasing power. What should be done to contain inflation?

Gas and food prices are having a greater effect on people’s ability to pay bills than anything else. The poorer you are, the worse it is. We need to temporarily increase energy and food assistance for those who are currently receiving it, especially people on fixed incomes.

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Inflation is defined as too much money chasing too few goods, causing prices to rise. Besides providing short-term relief to those who need it, we need a long-term strategy to combat inflation without affecting worker’s wages. First of all, we have 11 million unfilled jobs dragging down supply in all areas of consumer goods, and unemployment is so low that our economy is considered fully employed. We need to retrain displaced workers to fill 21st Century jobs, streamline the ability for migrants who are currently in the country to close the gap. This will increase production and supply. As the gap between rich and poor increases, we also need to discuss increasing taxes on people making over $5 million per year.

2. The war in Ukraine has highlighted the foreign policy implications of energy? What energy approach do you support for achieving energy independence in the U.S.?

Our need to diversify our energy supply and our dependence on world fuel markets becomes exposed in time of crisis. Our domestic oil production and imports are the same as it was in 2019, despite the misperception that we used to be energy independent. We have experienced a global price surge in gasoline because of the Ukraine War. Since Russia only supplies 7% of the world’s oil, some of this is speculation by price gougers. Some of it is supply problems. We have released oil from the strategic reserves. That has helped. The price of gas is down from 4.315 a month ago to 4.09 today. We have also begun to ramp up oil production domestically to meet demand at home, and abroad. It takes a little time for the supply to be made into gasoline and delivered to the pump. We will see these results soon, and prices will fall more.

3. How would you fix the country’s immigration challenges?

First, we need to stop separating families at the border and keeping innocent kids in cages. Families are still routinely separated without any policy to protect family unity. We must prioritize the health and safety of children first and foremost, thrust into these situations without choice. We need to keep families together while we adjudicate their future in this country. We desperately need a coherent immigration policy for the benefit of migrants and U.S. citizens alike. This policy needs to be humanitarian and sound economically. We have 11 million unfilled jobs in our country and statistically full employment, meaning we aren’t able to fill them. Until we fill this labor shortage, we experience loss of economic output, supply shortages, and increased inflation. In the past, we have relied on immigration to fuel our economic surges, and I believe this is a time when we need to do that. Let’s get migrants already in this country to work.

4. Can you cite instances of election interference in either of the last two presidential elections (Trump over Clinton in 2016, or Biden over Trump in 2020)? If so, what steps would you take to fix these problems?

Misinformation is spread on the internet by state actors and non-state actors with all kinds of agendas. It is a crime for state actors to interfere with U.S. elections, and it is a crime to harass people online with threats or abuse. It is a civic responsibility for citizens to dive deeper into issues, learn about contributing factors to problems, and create informed decisions. It is our right to express ourselves as citizens, and that right should always be defended, especially when our opinions are unpopular. Private platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and Google should be responsible to ensure that abuse, criminal threats and foreign interference are not taking place on their platforms, but otherwise their sheer size makes them akin to the public square, and free speech protections should extend to those who participate in their platform.


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GOP candidates say they would fight inflation, work to secure energy independence, expand markets for farmers.

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Jeff Ettinger.
Contributed

Name: Jeff Ettinger.

Residence: Austin, Minn.

Political Party: DFL.

Family: My wife, LeeAnn, and four kids.

Education: UCLA.

Political experience: Current co-chair of Gov. Walz's Economic Expansion Council.

Website: EttingerForCongress.com .

What would be your top three priorities if elected?

First, we need to restore and protect our democracy. I was moved to run for office in part by the events of January 6, when a mob of people stormed the Capitol building to try to violently overthrow the election, followed by our own local Congressman voting not to certify the election. The term "representative” is supposed to mean that members of Congress actually try to reach all people across the district, not only the ones who voted for them. We need representatives that actually represent their whole district.

Second, we need to reduce people's health care costs. Health care is still too expensive and out of reach for too many people. We need to focus on solutions that will both make health care more affordable and make sure all of our communities have access to high-quality care. I support allowing the government to negotiate drug prices to keep our health care costs down, and providing greater transparency around people's health care costs and options. I also support efforts to lower and cap costs on life-saving medication like insulin.

Third, I want to help make sure our local schools are as strong as they possibly can be. I am the proud product of public schools, and I believe deeply in their mission. All four of our kids graduated from Austin High School. We need to do more to recruit teachers to rural areas, update technology in classrooms so that students are prepared for the jobs of tomorrow, and make investments in transportation so that all kids have a ride to school.

1. Inflation is at a four-decade high, eroding people’s purchasing power. What should be done to contain inflation?

I want to use my business experience to reduce the cost of things like gas, groceries, and medicine that have a major impact on people's lives. We need to make more things here at home so that shipping delays in Shanghai don't mean that essential goods won't reach our shelves in a timely and inexpensive fashion.

2. The war in Ukraine has highlighted the foreign policy implications of energy? What energy approach do you support for achieving energy independence in the U.S.?

The U.S. needs to do more to provide for our own energy needs. Countries all across Europe are facing major geopolitical challenges as a result of relying on Russian oil. Short-term, we're going to need to do more to make gas available and inexpensive for American consumers, which is why I support releasing more oil from the strategic petroleum reserve and suspending the gas tax. Long-term, we should be investing in energy sources of the future. There's no reason that the future of American energy can't be made right here in southern Minnesota. I believe southern Minnesota should be a leader in creating good jobs and a workforce that builds innovative technology to power the clean energy economy. We need to focus on creating American jobs to produce renewable American energy, from building wind turbines to solar panels to batteries to biofuel.

3. How would you fix the country’s immigration challenges?

There hasn’t been a meaningful change in the law since the 1980s because of Congress’ inability to compromise. As a result, our immigration system isn't working like it should be, and Congress can't seem to get anything done to make things better. We need more people with real-life experience to change that, not more career politicians. We should pass a law to make DACA permanent, so that children that were brought here and are contributing to our country aren't thrown out. Then, we need to work on comprehensive immigration reform, which should include enhanced border security.

4. Can you cite instances of election interference in either of the last two presidential elections (Trump over Clinton in 2016, or Biden over Trump in 2020)? If so, what steps would you take to fix these problems?

If we want to strengthen our democracy, that starts by treating our elections like they're legitimate. I believe Donald Trump was elected in 2016, and I believe Joe Biden was elected in 2020, and politicians that are unable to clearly state both of those things as facts are a major threat to our democracy. It's time we get back to respecting the will of the voters, even if we don't agree with it, without immediately calling the legitimacy of our elections into question.


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They want to make pot legal and revitalize southern Minnesota's economy.

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Warren L. Anderson.
John Molseed / Post Bulletin

Name: Warren L. Anderson.

Residence: 1730 Orchid Drive S., North Mankato, Minn.

Political Party: Democratic Farmer Labor.

Family: Married (42 years); one son.

Education: High school (Rush City, Minn); 50 years of retail and retail management.

Political experience: 50 Years of voting and expressing my views.

Website: warren4congress22@gmail.com .

What would be your top three priorities if elected?

The job of all governments – federal, state, and local – is to protect all the people of the country. That is against its enemies but also to protect the young and the elderly, the sick and those with disabilities, the poor and the disadvantaged. I would work to continue and expand these priorities by making sure Social Security is put on a solid foundation. By working to make health care affordable for all the people, by slashing excessive costs on prescription drugs and medical services.

The federal government must get the spending under control. Everyone must pay their fair share, middle class and the wealthy. We must make sure that the wealthy do not pay a lower percentage than the average working person.

We also must work with our farmers and the farming industry to make sure the world has good food for our ever-larger population. That means to make sure the farmers have the freedom to continue to grow and sell the food we need at a profit and also find ways to encourage younger farmers-to-be to get into farming.

1. Inflation is at a four-decade high, eroding people’s purchasing power. What should be done to contain inflation?

Inflation is high when the demand for goods is higher than the amount of goods available. Government spending must be brought under control. We are just coming off one of the greatest challenges our world has endured. Our government has done a great job on finding solutions. But the cost has been high both in lives and for the country's finances. Reports are saying between 20-30% of the stimulus money was stolen or wasted. Government waste must be eliminated so that taxpayer money goes where it is needed. Inflation will come down as government costs come down.

2. The war in Ukraine has highlighted the foreign policy implications of energy? What energy approach do you support for achieving energy independence in the U.S.?

We must continue to expand wind and solar. Oil and gas companies must continue to work with and expand domestic sources. Fuel economy on cars and trucks must be raised. My truck in 1977 got 15 MPG. My wife's 2012 Jeep gets 18 MPG. What is wrong with this picture? New technologies are being explored everyday. (Wave power, fusion.) The world needs these new sources of energy.

3. How would you fix the country’s immigration challenges?

Most Americans are descendants of immigrants. We need legal immigration for the economy to flourish. We need to make legal immigration easier for the people so they aren't waiting years and then coming illegally. We must work with the countries that they are coming from so they don't feel the only answer is coming to America. Most people would stay in their home country if they had the freedom and the safety to live in peace. We also must make sure the people that came here as children are afforded all the privileges to live and work without fear of leaving the only country they have ever known.

4. Can you cite instances of election interference in either of the last two presidential elections (Trump over Clinton in 2016, or Biden over Trump in 2020)? If so, what steps would you take to fix these problems?

We have all seen the reports of false information coming from overseas both for and against our candidates. Financial irregularities, not born in this country, etc. We must continue to track these false and misleading quotes. I believe in personal freedom but we must continue to monitor and label what is incorrect. The media companies must monitor and notify when obvious false comments are posted. We must continue to educate the voters on what we believe in and call out falsehoods when we hear them. That is the job of everyone.


James Rainwater .jpg
James Rainwater.
Contributed

Name: James Rainwater.

Residence: Lake City, Minn.

Political Party: DFL.

Family: Wife, Margo, and two grown stepchildren, Andre and Jessica.

Education: Juris Doctor, St. Mary’s University School of Law (San Antonio, Texas); Bachelor of Arts, international relations, minor in German, University of Minnesota.

Political experience: Current Vice Chairman and past Chairman, Lake City Charter Commission; past candidate for Lake City City Council; past independent candidate for Minnesota 2nd Congressional District, state campaign chairman for Gen. Alexander Haig for President, 1988; intern for state Sen. Lyle Mehrkens, District 21.

Website: www.rainwaterforcongress.com .

What would be your top three priorities if elected?

1. National Security: Ultimately, I believe that many issues have an impact on our national security. From the Department of Defense, to health care, to gun rights, our national policies can weaken or strengthen our national and international security positions, and our ability to protect Americans.

2. Equal Rights/Voting Rights: All persons should be treated equally – it is that simple. We need to be aware that everyone has a place in our society, and our government has no place in telling us who we can or cannot be. Think of your favorite color. Now, imagine that the government told you that your favorite color is illegal. We do not know how and why we each have a favorite color, but certainly, the government has no business changing or intruding on our inherent identities. Our most sacred function of a democracy is the right of a citizen to vote. That is why it does not require payment, a special identification card, or unreasonable obstacles to exercise our right to vote. Laws that seek to make voting more difficult and only accessible to a privileged group are inherently anti-democratic and run counter to the very ideals of government of the people.

3. Environment: The world is all we have. As much as I love space exploration, I have no desire to live on Mars. I enjoy breathing in fresh, clean air. As such, I fully support regulation that reduces or eliminates pollution. I believe in preservation and conservation of our resources. Once something has been done to damage our environment, it is staggeringly difficult to correct it, as we are witnessing in the current global climate change.

1. Inflation is at a four-decade high, eroding people’s purchasing power. What should be done to contain inflation?

The Federal Reserve Bank should gradually raise interest rates until inflation plateaus. Congress should consider enacting some sort of gasoline subsidy program to lower prices at the gas pump. Congress should increase the Federal Minimum Wage to ensure that lower-income citizens have the ability to afford inflated prices.

2. The war in Ukraine has highlighted the foreign policy implications of energy? What energy approach do you support for achieving energy independence in the U.S.?

A recent National Public Radio article reported that on March 29, 2022, wind power electricity generation exceeded that of coal and nuclear combined. We have just scratched the surface of a new era of electricity generation. Wind, solar, and eventually fusion energy will propel us from the carbon-spewing contaminants of coal and natural gas, and the uneasy specter of spent nuclear materials. To that, we must be able to fund research into developing these exciting technologies that will provide not only domestic growth but bolster our national security by becoming energy-independent.

3. How would you fix the country’s immigration challenges?

People entering the U.S. to seek better, safer, and more stable lives are the backbone of our nation. I fully support a lenient acceptance policy of those who wish to come here, with the caveat that newcomers should have those basic skills that most Americans should have: A basic command of the English language, simple math skills, some U.S. civics. I think it is reasonable for most new immigrants to be given the opportunities to gain such qualifications before attaining full citizenship.

4. Can you cite instances of election interference in either of the last two presidential elections (Trump over Clinton in 2016, or Biden over Trump in 2020)? If so, what steps would you take to fix these problems?

In 2016, the Russians were proven to have interfered in the presidential election by circulating anti-Clinton and pro-Trump propaganda on American social media. In 2020, then-President Donald Trump pressured unsuccessfully the Georgia secretary of state to add just enough additional votes to give him a narrow victory in Georgia. Allegations of some sort of widespread Democratic Party conspiracy to take votes away from Trump are pure fiction. Ask yourself this question: If the Democrats had the wherewithal to change election results in 2020, why didn’t they do it in 2016 when Trump was still fresh from making his disgusting and sexist comments on the Access Hollywood television program? The only election interference the nation is witnessing is that of state legislatures making it much more difficult to vote. Imagine if these same states made it that difficult to get a driver’s license, fishing license, or file taxes.


Richard W. Painter mug
Richard W. Painter.
Contributed

Name: Richard W. Painter.

Residence: Mendota Heights, Minn.; moving to Faribault, Minn.

Political Party: DFL.

Profession: Law professor, law reformer.

What would be your top priorities if elected?

Congress needs to fight price-fixing in food and gas that is driving inflation. Subpoena CEOs to testify, make criminal referrals to (Department of Justice) and pass legislation to reduce industry concentration and enforce antitrust laws. Pass immigration reform. Fund public-private partnerships to generate wind and solar power in rural America, providing income for farmers and fighting climate change. Support unions, prevent outsourcing to nonunion employers, increase the minimum wage and promote fair trade.

Appropriate funds for emergency relief of farmers in drought and flooding emergencies caused by climate change. Pass legislation to protect women’s right to choose. Make single-payer health care an option for all Americans. Provide free or low-cost tuition in state universities, community colleges and trade schools as was common in the U.S. a few decades ago. Increase funding for preschool and K-12.

What makes you best suited for the office?

I have experience in both political parties from running Walter Mondale’s presidential campaign on my college campus in the 1980s, serving as the chief White House ethics lawyer in 2005-2007, organizing moderate Minnesota Republicans to support same-sex marriage in 2012, testifying before Congress eight times, being a vocal critic of Donald Trump and right-wing extremism in the GOP, running as a DFL candidate for U.S. Senate in 2018, and working with former Minnesota Gov. Arne Carlson to protect the boundary waters and Lake Superior watershed from sulfide emissions. I can reach across the aisle when reasonable people are willing to talk. I can get things done.

Matthew Stolle has been a Post Bulletin reporter since 2000 and covered many of the beats that make up a newsroom. In his first several years, he covered K-12 education and higher education in Rochester before shifting to politics. He has also been a features writer. Today, Matt jumps from beat to beat, depending on what his editor and the Rochester area are producing in terms of news. Readers can reach Matthew at 507-281-7415 or mstolle@postbulletin.com.
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