U.S. Congressional District 6 Candidate Questionnaires

Tom Emmer

Top priority: If elected, what is your top priority for the 2021 Congress? Why are you running for office?

My priorities for the 2021 Congress will remain focused on helping every Minnesotan access the opportunities they need to be in the best position to succeed. This includes working to rebuild our economy and create jobs, continue to push Congress and the Administration to reduce the federal debt and deficit, and ensure the safety and security of the American people. It is an honor to represent the citizens of Minnesota’s Sixth Congressional District and is a responsibility I do not take lightly. I will continue to push for policies that will benefit my constituents in Minnesota and continue to bring their ideas for change to Washington.

Economy: How do you grade the federal government’s response to the pandemic? Are additional measures necessary to spur the economy? If so, what?

COVID-19 continues to have an unprecedented impact on our economy. In the early days of the outbreak, Congress acted swiftly to adopt legislation to support the thousands of businesses and millions of employees in need of assistance. Efforts to establish programs like the Paycheck Protection Program, though not perfect, were stood-up in record time and provided billions in federal relief to thousands of Minnesota businesses. Looking ahead, additional federal support for key sectors of our economy may be needed, however I remain wary of new, multi-trillion dollar spending packages filled with federal mandates that are not targeted to the areas of specific need, rather seek to serve a political agenda. We must continue to direct spending to our teachers and small business owners while providing employers the legal protections they need to safely re-open and encourage their employees to return to work. The actions of the federal government were needed to steer our economy through this crisis, however federal stimulus should not be looked at as a means to supplant the hard work of American businesses and entrepreneurs.

Police reform: Police reform has become center stage since the George Floyd death and has prompted calls for legislative action at all levels of government. What actions do you support at the federal level?

The death of George Floyd was unacceptable and those responsible must be held accountable. I’m working to bring Minnesota-inspired concepts to the national level to improve the way law enforcement engages in the communities they serve. I introduced the Community OutPost (COP) Outreach and Engagement Act (H.R. 7245) to promote the nationwide use of the Community OutPosts to improve community policing. Modeled after the success of the St. Cloud Police Department’s “COP House,” this legislation provides federal resources to promote engagement between local law enforcement officers and the community members they serve. I have also introduced the Abby Honold Act (H.R. 4720) to improve the way law enforcement officers interview victims of sexual assault. Introduced after learning of Abby Honold’s experience with trauma-informed interview techniques following her sexual assault at the University of  Minnesota, this legislation promotes the inclusion of trauma-informed training to all law enforcement officers and directs the U.S. Department of Justice to invest in these programs nationwide. These are just two examples of ways I am working to improve the relationship between law enforcement and the people they’re sworn to protect without defunding, dismantling, or demonizing the thousands of hardworking men and women in blue.

Tawnja Zahradka

Top priority: If elected, what is your top priority for the 2021 Congress? Why are you running for office?

I look at it this way, if we don’t have our health, we don’t have anything. The physical and financial health of the country, planet and individuals are intertwined and create the platform for all other issues to be resolved. Without a healthy population and planet, we are severely weakened and without financial stability, we have few tools to deal with these or any other problems which beset us. My top priority would therefore be the stabilization of this country through efficient management of our resources, both physical and financial, which cannot be accomplished without a comprehensive plan to harness and rein in this Pandemic. We need a cohesive, “one for all, all for one” approach which unites rather than divides, facilitates the return to caring for rather than attacking one another. We further need to streamline our approach and seal up loopholes which allow billionaires to apply for programs meant to help small business and individuals in need, absconding with our tax dollars for their own greed. They should also be made to return any money they inappropriately procured in this manner. I am running for Congress because I am sick and tired of the imbalance and inequality in all facets of today’s society. Women should not continue to make .21 cents less on the dollar, the blue-collar worker who puts in a full day of work should be able to enjoy the basics of life, healthcare, food security, and an affordable, safe place to live. People of all races, creeds and religions should enjoy the same freedoms and protections that our Constitution mandates.

Economy: How do you grade the federal government’s response to the pandemic? Are additional measures necessary to spur the economy? If so, what?

Our federal government’s response is the epitome of failure, thus my F grade. Americans comprise 4% of the global population yet have 25% of the COVID-19 cases. America needs a coherent, cohesive united approach to expedite the control of this virus and put it behind us, not political disinformation, confusing rhetoric, and divisive language. We need to follow science-based facts to attain a solution to end the pandemic. Adequate, timely rebuilding of our economy requires efficient spending, managing our assistance programs with targeted recipients in mind. We need to make sure those who would fall through the cracks are taken care of and nobody is left behind as well as abolition and steep penalties for wealthy opportunistic corporations and individuals who raid and abuse assistance programs. I believe there is enough money to carry people through this health crisis, stimulate the economy and come out the other side in good shape. We need to monitor our dollars closely and not allow a single taxpayer dollar to be unaccounted for by our Congress. No president should have unfettered power to funnel Federal funds to himself and his cronies. 

Police reform: Police reform has become center stage since the George Floyd death and has prompted calls for legislative action at all levels of government. What actions do you support at the federal level?

George Floyd’s death is an unthinkable tragedy and the collective heart of Minnesota aches for this man and his family. Sadly, this is not the first black eye Minnesota has endured in the National spotlight, but it must be the last. Unfortunately, terminology in the police reform effort has been greatly misunderstood. Language about police de-funding has been widely disseminated as an end to policing. No reasonable person, including myself, would ever lobby for abolishing the police department or abdicating the responsibility of government to protect their citizenry from harm or provide crisis assistance and intervention. This assistance costs money, of course, and that money should be provided. Once again, we must ensure that these funds are used prudently, that the human beings in that department fully understand the purpose of their jobs and have a disposition and mindset to honor their commitment to that aim. There must be a ready remedy for corruption within police departments, no matter the seniority, and a mindset within the culture that encourages mass disapproval of bullying and abuse of power. Incentives should be based on the ability to work with the community, de-escalate situations peacefully, and treat all people humanely to gain respect from those they serve rather than awarding raises based on arrest numbers. The goal should be common respect and courtesy for and by the police. I believe we can all agree on that.

U.S. Congressional District 8 

Candidate Questionnaires

Pete Stauber

Top priority: If elected, what is your top priority for the 2021 Congress? Why are you running for office?

Two years ago, one of the focal points of my campaign as a first-time congressional candidate was to let you, the voters, know who I am. I introduced myself to you and shared my story, what my priorities are, and how I wanted to represent the 8th congressional district. Professional hockey player, small-business owner, police officer: those were the uniforms I wore throughout my life. That uniform changed in 2019 when I took my oath. Whether it’s a suit and tie when I’m at the White House meeting with President Trump on criminal-justice reform, slacks and a sport coat when I visit with small-business owners in Cambridge, or jeans and Carhartts when I’m visiting with farmers, loggers, or miners, my purpose is resolute. My priority isn’t an issue: It’s you the people. I am humbled to be your congressman. For the past two years I have been listening to you and learning from you. My focus in Congress is on you. It has been a privilege fighting for our way of life, and I would be honored to receive your vote to continue advocating on your behalf.

Economy: How do you grade the federal government’s response to the pandemic? Are additional measures necessary to spur the economy? If so, what?

Before the global pandemic struck our economy was churning at historic levels. Unemployment was the lowest since before we landed on the moon. I supported a pro-growth economy that got us to record levels and we’ll get there again. I was proud to support bipartisan legislation like the CARES Act that provided emergency funding and resources for federal, state, and local responses to COVID-19, as well as provide small businesses with emergency relief (Paycheck Protection Program) that saved more than 50 million jobs. One thing the pandemic has shown us is we must become a more self-reliant country. Our miners, manufacturers, and others throughout our domestic supply chain eagerly await the chance to serve their nation and responsibly source these resources needed for every sector of our economy.

Police reform: Police reform has become center stage since the George Floyd death and has prompted calls for legislative action at all levels of government. What actions do you support at the federal level?

Across our country, once peaceful protests turned into riots, chaos, looting, lawlessness, and in some cases, anarchy reined. And now, they are calling to defund our police. We can’t allow our country to get held hostage by lawlessness and anarchists. That’s not the society we want to be. As we rebuild trust between our police and their communities, I am proud to be working with Sen. Tim Scott on meaningful criminal justice reform, the JUSTICE Act, which includes bipartisan provisions that would rebuild performance, accountability, and transparency within police departments nationwide. Instead of defunding the police, we need to build trust between communities and their police.

Quinn Nystrom

Top priority: If elected, what is your top priority for the 2021 Congress? Why are you running for office?

Living with Type 1 diabetes, I pay nearly $1,000 out of pocket every month for my healthcare – and that’s with good insurance. The price of insulin has gone up nearly 1200% since I was diagnosed as a teenager and I’ve had enough. It’s not just insulin - prescription drug prices are skyrocketing and too many among us can no longer afford their prescriptions or are too afraid of the bill to go to the doctor. It’s unacceptable and the COVID-19 pandemic has only made it worse. In Congress, I’ll stand up to Big Pharma, fight for more affordable healthcare and lower prescription drug costs, and protect coverage for people with pre-existing conditions.

Economy: How do you grade the federal government’s response to the pandemic? Are additional measures necessary to spur the economy? If so, what?

The federal government’s response to the pandemic has been abysmal. The economy fundamentally will not recover until we beat this virus. We need universal, easy to access, 1-day or immediate testing. We need more PPE for our frontline healthcare workers. We need a coherent plan from the federal government on when certain areas should be closed and when they shouldn’t. On the economic side we need to continue the unemployment benefits with $600 additional per week. We also need support for our cities and states so that they don’t have to cut their budgets right in the midst of the greatest economic downturn since the great depression.

Police reform: Police reform has become center stage since the George Floyd death and has prompted calls for legislative action at all levels of government. What actions do you support at the federal level?

Reform is needed on all levels of the criminal justice system. We need broad reforms to crack down on departments with a history of racial profiling and officers with high levels of complaints against them. We need to ensure that law enforcement have the right training and make sure that we’re sending the right people to handle each situation. We must address the racial disparities in sentencing and reform the bail bond system. Most  importantly, those in power have to listen to the communities affected by these issues and realize that we will not get anywhere if we don’t try to sit down and work together to make change.

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