Minnesota, particularly southwest Minnesota, is a place that I am proud to call home and raise my children in. We are a people of hard work and self-respect. We face our challenges head on, and over the last few months, we’ve had a few of those.
We have, and are going through, a difficult time here in southwest Minnesota. Our agricultural community is struggling, our small businesses have taken a hit and our minority community is hurting. Within our state, we have seen the worst of what we can be, in the murder of George Floyd, and we have seen hope for what we can move forward to become. We have seen our communities come together to walk proudly with one another in marches of solidarity. We have seen neighbors mask up to protect the health of one another.
We, as Minnesotans, are not a people who turn away from hard questions or difficult answers. This is why I was so disappointed in how our State Senate failed to address police reform during the special session.
A couple of weeks ago, an editorial by State Sen. Bill Weber made its way through many of the local papers in this district. In the article, Sen. Weber attempted to explain, from his perspective, why the State Senate voted to adjourn and go home without accomplishing anything of significance during the last special session. Frankly, all I saw was excuses and tired, old talking points. This does not represent the values of southern Minnesota. We do not make excuses for our mistakes; we face them and fix them.
While Sen. Weber explained his reasoning in regard to the Senate’s failure to agree on the appropriation of funds provided by the CARES Act, he failed to mention a single word as to why they would not even discuss the police reform measures that were passed by the State House of Representatives. The people of Minnesota — whether they are Republican, Democrat or Independent — want action. What that action looks like is up for debate, but to go home at such a critical point and not even discuss the issues facing the state during such a tumultuous time is unacceptable.
What I saw in that article was excuses. What I saw was finger-pointing. What I saw was meaningless talking points like you would hear in the national media or in Washington. Whatever Sen. Weber’s excuses may have entailed, at the end of the day, the people’s interests were not represented. This could have been a turning point in the history of our state — a time where the voice of the people was heard and acted upon. This could have been a moment where our strength, unity and resolve were shown for our hurting communities and all the country to see. Instead, it was just a footnote of inaction.
We cannot afford to become Washington. We cannot allow the political games, vitriol and sensationalism of the national media and federal politicians to take root in our state — a state that prides itself in critical, rational thinking over tribal politics — to the point that we are in a perpetual deadlock and never get anything of substance done for the people.
Publicly smearing Gov. Walz as Sen. Weber did — implying that he is corrupt, without anything to substantiate that claim — in our newspapers was shameful, whether we agree with Gov. Walz or not. Sen. Weber is supposed to be a civic leader, and while that kind of petty bickering and finger-pointing may work elsewhere, we Minnesotans hold ourselves to a higher standard. We need representation that holds itself to that same high standard. Our state senator could have done better, and frankly, we the people deserved better.