The candidates seeking to represent District 39A in the Minnesota House of Representatives sought to distinguish themselves in a Stillwater Gazette-sponsored forum at Stillwater City Hall Oct. 22. Republican incumbent Bob Dettmer faced off with DFL-endorsed challenger Ann Mozey. Margot Rheinberger, of Stillwater, moderated.
District 39A includes Forest Lake, parts of Stillwater, Stillwater Township, May Township, Scandia, Marine on St. Croix, Shafer and Franconia Township. Dettmer lives in Forest Lake and Mozey lives in May Township.
During the forum, Dettmer highlighted his career in education as a teacher in the Forest Lake Area School District and his 25 years in the Army Reserves. Dettmer shared his insights from his last six terms in the House.
As a first time candidate, Mozey highlighted her career as an attorney practicing family law.
An on-going need in the state of Minnesota is to fund road and bridge projects, but both candidates differ of how to pay for transportation projects.
“In Forest Lake, the highway 97 bridge [over 35E], I was the one who sponsored that bill, even though it is not in my district because most of the traffic comes from Washington County,” Dettmer said. “The is a $9 billion project that I sponsored.”
Dettmer said that the project was accomplished by using bonding money and “money on hand” from the legislature.
“We didn’t need to have a gas tax,” Dettmer said.
Mozey said that the last bill could have been bigger, “and should have been bigger because a bonding bill was not passed in the last biennium.”
“When the interest rates are low, its good to borrow money,” Mozey said. “From the Democrats perspective it is a jobs bill, its money that we use to invest in our unions to build.”
If the bonding bill was bigger, the bridge crossing Highway 8 could have been reconstructed but is now being resurfaced, Mozey said.
“In my line of work, when you do something that causes people to come back and fix it, that is called malpractice,” Mozey said.
Given a rebuttal, Dettmer said the Highway 8 bridge is part of a larger Highway 8 project.
Candidates differed on their approach to funding public education.
Mozey said she was in favor of increasing the per-pupil formula to increase funding to school districts.
“I have seen if we increase per-pupil support by 3 percent every year, we will be good,” Mozey said. “One good thing about that is that we would not need to ask local communities to fund bonds and levies for operating revenue.”
Dettmer focused on specific problems that districts have with funding. In Forest Lake School District, the geographical size of the district causes higher transportation costs. At the legislature, Dettmer said he is working on a bill that would provide additional funding to district with higher transportation costs.
Both Dettmer and Mozey address a need to keep healthcare costs affordable for Minnesotans, but drastically differed in their approaches.
Mozey said she was in favor of two bills that have been written, but have not moved forward in the legislature; a single payer insurance plan or a plan to allow any person to purchase health insurance from Minnesota Care, the state health insurance.
“If we did the single payer or Minnesota Care buy in option, it would be the biggest single raise for families in Minnesota,” Mozey said. “Between the premiums we pay and the deductibles we have to cover, it would be that much more money going into our economy.”
“I think if we went to the single payer system that you see in some other countries, I think I saw it is going to cost $33 trillion [in the US],” Dettmer said.
Dettmer said he believes that costs can be lowered through increased competition and allowing out of state networks to sell insurance plans in Minnesota.
Contact Alicia Lebens at email@example.com