The first in a series of forums held for Edina-associated candidates took place earlier this month.

The League of Women Voters Edina, which hosts the forums, invited all candidates running in Minnesota Senate District 49 to answer questions from constituents on Sept. 3, ahead of the Tuesday, Nov. 3, election.

Incumbent Melisa López Franzen of the DFL and Julie Dupré of the GOP were both invited to the forum. Franzen was the only one to participate in the event.

In opening remarks, Franzen made references to the impact of COVID-19 on the general public as well as the Minnesota Legislature, noting that the role of government is to handle situations like a pandemic. The senator mentioned that as she grew up in Puerto Rico, she was always getting ready to handle hurricanes, which she said was similar to how the state handled the pandemic.

“Minnesota stocked up. We were prepared for the storm. ... We were able to have a plan when COVID hit,” she said.

Throughout the forum, the candidate was asked questions about the Minnesota state budget, progress on the Legislature’s bonding bill, policing and the pandemic.

Franzen said her top priority in the next legislative session would be the Minnesota state budget, and that she would focus on schools and healthcare. In the future for the state, a better sustainable transportation system is also a goal, Franzen said.

In cutting areas of the state’s budget, Franzen said everything is being considered, though she will fight harder to keep funding levels for some, like health and human services, than others.

On policing, Franzen said she would support more transparency. “We need to make sure that we are accountable to the people we’re supposed to be serving, she said.

In her closing remarks, Franzen stressed the importance of access to healthcare and better public safety measures, highlighting how critical it is to “not give up on democracy.”

While not at the forum, Dupré has indicated that reopening Minnesota and focusing on public safety are top issues the Legislature should address.

According to her campaign’s website, Dupré’s top priorities include more effective spending in education, protecting 2nd Amendment rights, and balancing economic interests and environmental impact.

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