District 32B Candidate Questionnaires
Occupation: Legislator and Mom
Previous political/community experience:
My name is Anne Neu and I have had the honor of serving our Chisago County in the Minnesota House for the last 4 years. I am a wife, mom of five and step-mom to another 5!
I am an avid supporter of the Boy Scouts and have served on the North Branch Planning Commission. I’ve also served as Vice President of Minnesota Excellence in Public Service Series, which provides leadership training to women so they can fulfill leadership roles in their careers, communities, and government. I have engaged in political advocacy at every level from walking in parades to organizing campaign.
Assess state government’s response to the pandemic thus far and what do you believe to be the best way that the state can support both public health safety and the economy as it emerges from restrictions?
Our state legislature reacted quickly to COVID-19 and did amazing bipartisan work. Shortly thereafter Governor Walz declared a peacetime emergency and cut the legislature out of the decision-making process. Had he not done so, we may have had a better solution than returning the COVID-19 positive elderly patients to nursing homes – this has been among the biggest and saddest failings in the state’s response.
The best way for the state government to help our state emerge from the COVID-19 restrictions is to truly recognize the regional differences in our state. Restrictions necessary for urban downtown Minneapolis and St. Paul are not necessarily the right fit for communities across the state. We need to recognize this and allow for flexibility. Guidelines and not mandates are the solution. In addition, the elected officials from each of these communities need to play a role in the decision-making process – the current process of one-man rulemaking by the governor is not how our government is supposed to work.
As a state government, we also need to make sure our businesses – from the Twin Cities to North Branch to Duluth – are able to safely operate. Law enforcement officers need to know that we have their backs and they need the tools to do their job. The rampant lawlessness that started in downtown Minneapolis and St. Paul and spread to the suburbs needs to be stopped. Peaceful protests are important speech that must be protected; rioting, looting, destruction, and burning down a police precinct must be condemned.
The unrest in the Twin Cities following the death of George Floyd while in police custody has had an impact around the world. Talk about your feelings and/or involvement in response, and how can state government assist in improving relations with diverse communities? The tragic death of George Floyd shook our state and nation. We demand more from our law enforcement officials and the vast majority of them deliver. No one hates a bad cop like a good one and we should look at ways to better integrate and build trust between communities and law enforcement. We must make sure our law enforcement officers have proper training and the bad actors are held accountable.
We cannot tolerate the rioting, looting, violence, and destruction that followed. The right to peaceful protests is sacred to our nation but what we witnessed was not that. The slow response to the wide-spread violence by Mayor Frey and Governor Walz made the situation far worse. Minneapolis is now facing a crisis with too few police officers and more leaving by the day.
As a state legislator, I am part of the newly created Select Committee on Racial Justice. We will be looking at the problems faced by minority communities and how best we can make sure the American Dream is achievable by everyone.
What are other priorities facing residents in your district in the next few years, and how would you deal with them? Our community, like all communities in Minnesota, needs safe neighborhoods, good paying jobs, and world-class schools. These are the ideas and values that bring us all together. This means supporting law enforcement and helping to bring them ever closer to the communities they serve. It means working to foster an environment that encourages entrepreneurs to start businesses right here in our community and state. It means making sure our teachers and students have the resources they need to thrive. As long as I serve in the legislature, it will be my top priority to deliver all three for our community.
In addition, ensuring Hwy 8 is safe has been a top priority since my election in 2017. I was able to secure funding for the first steps in fixing this important but dangerous road and will continue to work until the reconstruction of Hwy 8 is completed.
Occupation: Executive Director of the Chisago Lakes Chamber of Commerce
Previous political/community experience: Community activism is a wonderful way to meet neighbors and engage with like-minded leaders. I served on the board of the Chisago Lakes PTO, helped for many years with school wide testing, and in multiple classrooms as a reading enrichment volunteer. I learned about the problems facing school districts throughout Minnesota by advocating for equitable school funding in St. Paul. When our district faced budget cuts, I organized a public forum to enlighten community members on how schools are funded at a state level and how we can help as activated citizens. I was a founding member of the Chisago Lakes Early Literacy Project and have helped countless families as an Usborne Books & More consultant. I am the Executive Director of the Chisago Lakes Chamber of Commerce and have collaborated with many other committees and organizations focused on the betterment of our community and those surrounding Chisago Lakes.
Assess the state government’s response to the pandemic thus far and what do you believe to be the best way that the state can support both public health safety and the economy as it emerges from restrictions? COVID-19 has thrown our nation into a tailspin. As schools welcome back their students and businesses regain their footing, people are looking toward the fall and winter. There remains a level of uncertainty, but our government is in a position to help. We’ve already seen many proactive initiatives (masks to businesses, relief grants, meals for students, etc.) and I anticipate more in the months to come. As we learn more, we’re better able to navigate this pandemic, and with the sharing of scientific data, we are able to prioritize safety and social responsibility.
The unrest in the Twin Cities following the death of George Floyd while in police custody has had an impact around the world. Talk about your feelings and/or involvement in response, and how can the state government assist in improving relations with diverse communities? Sunday following the murder of George Floyd I took my daughter to St. Paul to help in the relief efforts. Stores were closed, transit shut down, and families were without basic necessities. My daughter and I went to work packing and distributing necessary items for these families. I wasn’t sure what was in store in the weeks or months to come. I did recognize that this was a moment in history that she would always remember and I wanted to offer her the opportunity to do something she’d be proud of. The death of George Floyd proved that we are no longer able to ignore the systemic injustices that have plagued our nation for generations. We cannot change what’s happened before now, but I’m confident that with education, enlightenment, grace, and empathy, we can find a way forward that will change the trajectory for generations to come.
What are other priorities facing residents in your district in the next few years, and how would you deal with them? I’m eager to work towards equitable school funding, universal broadband internet access, and supporting small businesses. COVID-19 has shown that areas like ours have glaring disparities in connectability and equity. We are poised for change and we need leadership to see those changes come to light.
District 39A Candidate Questionnaires
Occupation: Retired Teacher– Health Education, Physical Education, Outdoor Education, Head Wrestling Coach, Asst. Soccer and Track Coach Forest Lake Area School District, 34 years; United States Army Reserve Military Intelligence Chief Warrant Officer CW4, 25 years, (Retired) Mobilized and Deployed for 20 months for Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom; Wrestling Official for the Minnesota State High School League; Currently serving as the Minnesota State Representative for House District 39A.
Previous political/community experience:
Minnesota State Legislator in the House of Representatives 2007 – present. Legislative Committees Served on: Veterans Division (Chair and Lead), State Government Finance, K-12 Education Finance, Capitol Investments, Ways and Means Finance, Labor, Taxes, Property and Local Tax Division, Higher Education Finance, Child Hood Obesity Legislative Working Group (Chair), Military Action Working Group (Chair).
United States Army Military Intelligence Warrant Officer, Mobilized and Deployed for 20 months Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Member of the Forest Lake Veterans of Foreign Wars, VFW Post 4210, and American Legion Post 225. Served as a Chisago Lakes Baptist Church Deacon Board Member. Starbase Minnesota (STEM Education) Board Member.
Board member of the Minnesota Wrestling Coaches Hall-of-Fame and the Minnesota Chapter of the National Wrestling Hall-of-Fame.
Assess state government’s response to the pandemic thus far and what do you believe to be the best way that the state can support both public health safety and the economy as it emerges from restrictions? Minnesota families and businesses have been devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic and the shutdown of our state economy. I will work to help Minnesotans recover so we can bring jobs, paychecks and our economy roaring back.
Minnesotans deserve to feel safe in their communities. I will oppose radical efforts to defund or dismantle police departments, prioritize public safety, and support the brave men and women in law enforcement who do their jobs honorably and risk their lives protecting our communities.
We are now at a point where we need to determine how to best help our families and businesses recover. Over the past few months, the Legislature approved several laws that helped Minnesota deal with the pandemic. This included critical funding that assisted families, small businesses, and childcare providers.
Since the pandemic began, Minnesota’s economy has taken a hit, going from a billion-dollar surplus to a projected multi-billion-dollar deficit in just a few months. There is no doubt this is happening due to the permanent closure of countless stores, reduced operating capacity at other businesses, and too many Minnesotans being out of work.
Moving forward, we need to help struggling families get back on their feet. We need to find ways to help strained business owners recover from what is likely the most significant challenge they have ever faced. We need to enact policies that drive job creation and put our unemployed back to work.
The unrest in the Twin Cities following the death of George Floyd while in police custody has had an impact around the world. Talk about your feelings and/or involvement in response, and how can state government assist in improving relations with diverse communities?
We need to be cautious and careful in our approach to reforming the law enforcement profession. The actions of one now former Minneapolis police officer are not indicative of the approach the vast majority of peace officers take to their work in protecting our communities. I stand in full support of law enforcement and I am disheartened that many people are painting the members of the profession with a broad brush.
We are witnessing the results of a lack of support for law enforcement in Minneapolis, where the city is experiencing a dramatic increase in violence, which is having a devastating effect on the residents of the city, especially in minority communities.
The death of George Floyd demonstrated the need to put measures in place to prevent such tragedies in the future. I support a ban on so-called chokeholds, a duty for peace officers to intervene when another officer uses excessive force and report it to the officer’s superiors. I also support additional training for peace officers, especially in the area of use of force and in interactions with persons who have mental illness and when interacting with members of diverse communities. And I support reforming the grievance process so that a Police Chief’s decision to terminates a peace officer for using excessive force is not overturned by an arbitrator. I am also gratified the Legislature clarified the standards for disclosure of information for peer support and critical incident stress management sessions for emergency first responders, including peace officers.
What are other priorities facing residents in your district in the next few years, and how would you deal with them? Public safety is of paramount importance in communities across the state. The first duty of any government is to protect its citizens. I have led the way in keeping our communities and families safe from those who would do us harm. I supported improving Minnesota’s public safety by passing laws to strengthen penalties for offenders, including locking up the “worst of the worst” sexual predators and assisting victims.
Education equity funding and school safety has always been in the forefront for our district. The current state K-12 education funding formula does not provide equity for all Minnesota school districts. Our district has a long history of excellent public, charter and private schools. It’s not right that our schools receive thousands less per student than many other schools. Equity funding is essential to providing resources and flexibility for our schools to hire quality staff and a secure learning environment.
Previous political/community experience:
Always an advocate and attorney, I am an environmentalist, a small business owner and practicing attorney with offices in Stillwater. For over 20 years I have worked with individuals in difficult situations, giving voice and support for people-centered sustainable solutions.
Currently, I am on the Citizens Review Panel for Washington County, overseeing aspects of Child Protection, Foster Care, and Day-Care Licensing. I am on the DFL Environmental Caucus executive board working to nurture our communities and candidates to have an environmental focus. Recently, I was a board member for the Washington County Lawyer’s Board, serving two terms as the Secretary with a focus on providing support and resources in the legal community and at large. Always, I have volunteered throughout my career with Tubman, and with Washington County providing assistance to those in need.
Assess state government’s response to the pandemic thus far and what do you believe to be the best way that the state can support both public health safety and the economy as it emerges from restrictions? Universal affordable quality health care for all should be our number one priority, whether at the state or national level. Banking and credit regulations need to be revisited to address the social functions that they serve, rather than just for-profit. Currently only 31 Minnesota banks have stated that they would step up for their customers and help bridge a path to a better day for everyone. Without national leadership, local and state governments are left to put together policies that support their communities. It does not take a rocket scientist to look around and see that in too many situations we have chosen to ignore the perils of this medical crisis, now also a social justice crisis as well as an economic crisis.
Vote like your life depends on it, because it literally does. Some in local and state leadership have made it their mission to be available and engaged, both in responding to questions and in offering good information and resources. Notice who these people are and vote accordingly. I believe that a change in leadership is essential to finding a path forward that is built from the rubble we face currently. Without this change, as certain incumbents have proven repeatedly, nothing truly new is possible.
The unrest in the Twin Cities following the death of George Floyd while in police custody has had an impact around the world. Talk about your feelings and/or involvement in response, and how can state government assist in improving relations with diverse communities? Republican messaging has made policing dangerous. The idea of “defunding” is NOT a Democratic party position, it was a local idea raised by the youth in Minneapolis. In boosting this language to demonize the Democrats, the Republicans have made policing exponentially more unsafe for partisan gain.
I protested with our youth in Forest Lake on June 4th. I felt that it was one of the most important protests I could participate in for two reasons, first it was organized and lead by our youth, the people who will inherit the problems we face. And secondly, I felt it was important to participate because change must happen in all corners of our state if we are going to effectively work together. The incumbent has been hostile to participating in this conversation. Without a change in leadership our community will be seen as part of the problem instead of part of the solution.
Police reform, including accountability and training is important. We should all come fresh to our jobs every day, and that is often harder to do when the struggles are real. We should include a look at the criminal justice system as well. It does not work for minor offenses, or drug and addiction offenses, and should not be a for-profit system at all. For example, to be soft on crime with an addict may be their death sentence, and conversely to be hard on the same situation is just as misplaced. People die. Minnesota can do better.
What are other priorities facing residents in your district in the next few years, and how would you deal with them?
Boosting the local economy must be a priority. Funding the bonding bill is one opportunity. Unfortunately, my opponent repeatedly voted against the bill for 2020, playing partisan politics. This is a travesty for Minnesota for two reasons, first it is an investment that has no net out-of-pocket, the money that is borrowed is paid back in the course of the wages that are taxed, a sustainable system that maintains our roads and bridges, safe and clean water infrastructure, creates good paying jobs, and so much more. The second reason obstructionist politics is a travesty is it is a waste of time and money. For every neglected project the cost of repair goes up, and while it is remains in disrepair harms abound. Roads that are unsafe have more accidents and deaths, and potholes lead to large car repair bills. In this way, tax payers pay more