To provide our readers with information to help them in their decision-making at the polls during the Nov. 8 General Election, the Record sent out a questionnaire to each of the candidates in the races for Minnesota House of Representatives, District 9B and 15B; and Senate Districts 9 and 15.
The candidates were asked to introduce themselves, to respond to a number of questions and to provide a photo. Each of the candidates was asked to limit their responses to the questions to 100 words.
The House and Senate candidates were asked the same questions, they are as follows:
Question 1: The state is sitting on a $900 million budget surplus. What specific steps would you take to dispose of it?
Question 2: Why should voters believe that you will not contribute to the partisan gridlock that has plagued the Legislature in recent years?
Question 3: In which specific area of public policy do you have the most interest, and what do you hope to accomplish in that area during the coming term?
Question 4: What changes in law enforcement and firearm policies should the state make in the coming term?
Question 5: How would you balance environmental concerns with those of modern agriculture?
Introduction: My name is Chilah Brown. I am an Isle resident as my family has resided in the Mille Lacs region for many generations. I am Anishinabe, an enrolled member of the Mille Lacs Ojibwe. I recently graduated with my master’s from the University of Minnesota Duluth. I have worked as a legislative aid, compliance assistant as well as the Statewide Health Improvement Program (SHIP) coordinator
(statewide program that invests in local solutions for better health).
Growing up in Isle, I have seen the impact of how 20 years of our communities and townships have been struggling to provide jobs, education, housing, economic development, transportation, childcare services and or emergency services for the benefits of the people of District 15. I have never run for office nor was politically active however, I can no longer sit quiet. My focus for running for senate is to bridge the gap within our communities so we can address the people’s issues. D15 has been overlooked and underfunded for too long. Now is the time for the people of SD15 to come together to address these issues, open lines of communication and unite, so we can find solutions for our area and our people.
Question 1: The projected budget surplus was created in large part because Minnesota has a strong economy. The projected budget surplus should be invested in programs that will continue this success. One example is early childhood education. Ensuring children start school ready to learn and investing in our youngest learners creates a huge return on investment. At the other end of the education spectrum is higher education. Making college more affordable for students and their families will give Minnesota the necessary educated workforce of the future.
Question 2: Because of partisan gridlock, legislators left St. Paul without passing a tax bill to give middle-class taxpayers relief; approving funds to improve our roads and bridges; and without a bill to improve Minnesota’s state parks, trails and other state-owned property. Throughout my campaign I’ve talked about the importance of unity and working together. When politicians are working in the best interest of their political parties rather than the people they serve, Minnesota gets stuck with gridlock in St. Paul. The residents of Senate District 15 will always be my top priority in my work at the State Capitol.
Question 3: I am interested in public policies that will make our communities stronger. I will support proven economic development initiatives, including the Minnesota Investment Fund and the Job Creation Fund, to bring good-paying jobs to communities. Additionally, I will support all efforts to fully fund broadband access to all corners of the state. Businesses need access to high-speed Internet to be able to compete. I will support programs to help working families. From lowering the cost of child care to assisting parents balancing work and family, there is so much that can be done to help workers struggling to make ends meet.
Question 4: Many people work in law enforcement have a dedication to “protect and serve.” Unfortunately, events in the past year have shed a light on questionable practices used by a very small number of police officers. This session, the Legislature passed a bill regarding law enforcement body cameras. It clarifies what data is public and what is nonpublic. It will be necessary to ensure the new law is meeting its goals or if it needs to be refined. In regard to firearms, I support the 2nd Amendment and our region’s long-standing family traditions of hunting.
Question 5: Protecting Minnesota’s water quality and supporting our local farmers is not an either/or. Because both are key components of Minnesota’s way of life and our economy, everyone involved in both issues must come together to find solutions to the problems we face. I will support our local farmers, as they work their land to provide for their families. I will also support efforts by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency as it works with farmers, soil and water conservation districts, watershed districts, tribes, and other concerned citizens to protect our lakes, streams and rivers so they are clean for generations to come.
Introduction: My name is Andrew Mathews and I have been a resident of Milaca for 20 years. I am currently single, and a graduate of
J.D. Oak Brook College of Law. I work as a federal veterans caseworker. I am a pastor, youth teacher/mentor and run a small family business. People can reach me at: email@example.com
Question 1: Roads and bridges. We have a surplus because we have been overtaxed, with the last DFL-controlled legislature passing the largest tax increase in state history. This money should be put back into public infrastructure, roads and bridges in our communities. At the end of the past session, we had such a bill that would invest $900 million in our roads, but it died at the hands of a few metro democrats in the senate majority demanding even more funds for Southwest Light Rail. I’ll fight for this district to help our communities improve our streets.
Question 2: I’m accountable to my district, not to a political party. I’m going to listen, and to stand up for our district, and to stand on our principles and values. I am willing to listen to and work with anyone on either side in the Legislature, but I don’t control how others will respond. All I can do and will do is pledge to stand up for our district and our values, and listen and be willing to work with others.
Question 3: Energy is a huge issue for our district, since we contain the Sherco power plants in Becker which generate a large portion of the state’s power, as well as providing a lot of good jobs and tax revenue. If the coal plant is shut down without being replaced with a natural gas plant, it will devastate the local economy and cause energy costs to skyrocket. Wind and solar aren’t bad, they’re just not reliable enough to produce base load power for the grid. I’ll fight for our power plants and for affordable energy.
Question 4: I am willing to look at any proposed policies, especially if coming from local law enforcement. My philosophy however is this — we need to support our police, and we need to support the 2nd Amendment. I will oppose every effort that tries to cut into the right of the people to keep and bear arms. I have an “A” rating from the NRA, and am endorsed by the Minnesota Gun Owners Caucus, because I intend to defend our 2nd Amendment rights.
Question 5: I believe that we are called to be good stewards of the earth and the land that we live on, and so is every farmer I’ve met and spoken to along the way of this campaign. However, government bureaucracies have stepped on our farmers, such as the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) stopping them from irrigating their crops, and I’m going to stand up for our farmers. Our farmers realize they stand to lose the most if the environment suffers, and we can continue to protect the environment while supporting our local farms.