Three candidates are seeking election to Minnesota Senate District 63. Democratic-Farmer-Labor incumbent Patricia Torres Ray is being challenged by Republican candidate Diane Napper and Grassroots-Legalize Cannabis candidate Chris Wright. The district represents portions of Richfield and Minneapolis.

Diane Napper

Diane Napper

 

Diane Napper

City of residence: Minneapolis

Education: Bachelor of science in business administration, concentration in marketing, from American University, Washington, D.C.

Occupation: Self-employed graphic designer

Community involvement: Member of Nokomis East Business Association Home-based Professionals; Former board member of PFund Foundation

Contact information: Dianenapper2020@gmail.com

How should the 2021 Legislature handle the budget issues and meet school and societal needs caused by COVID-19?

COVID-19 has presented an extraordinary challenge for our state. The 2021 Legislature should first vote to end the peacetime emergency to allow businesses to reopen at full capacity as they see fit, while keeping within clearly established safety guidelines, to begin generating more revenue for the state.

In order to meet school and societal needs caused by the pandemic, it is critical that the Legislature work together to find cost savings wherever possible. This means digging deep into each agency to eliminate ineffective and wasteful programs while creating efficiencies in operations. Tax hikes on already struggling families and businesses are not the answer.

With these savings, more money can be allocated to jobs, economic development and commerce. In addition, decreasing unnecessary regulations will allow businesses to expand, creating more job opportunities. This helps build strong families, which in turn helps build communities and contributes to an improved economy.

Will you support the passage of a bonding bill in 2021 or 2022? If so, where should the priorities be?

I am likely to support a bonding bill, but it depends on what’s in it. As we struggle to get our economy back on track, it is imperative that agencies critically analyze which projects are must-have and which are nice-to-have. Just as families prioritize which improvements to make on their homes, (based on whether or not they can afford it,) so should the state. Since the state only pays the debt service on a bonding bill, it makes sense to keep that debt service number low. Priorities should be projects that improve public safety and increase economic development to allow for more private entities to fund certain projects, reducing the cost to the state.

Patricia Torres Ray

Patricia Torres Ray 

Patricia Torres Ray

City of residence: Minneapolis

Education: Master of public affairs

Occupation: Legislator

Community involvement: I have served 14 years in the Minnesota Senate. I currently serve on boards of organizations such as the Film Society, Women’s Environmental Institute, Neighborhood Revitalization Program. I’m a member of the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Task Force and the Capitol Area Architecture and Planning Board.

Contact information: ptr@patriciatorreray.org

How should the 2021 Legislature handle the budget issues and meet school and societal needs caused by COVID-19?

Minnesota faces a half a billion dollar deficit that will have to be addressed when the Legislature reconvenes in January 2021. I will oppose any cuts to education, health and human services or cuts to any programs that serve the most vulnerable people in our state.

Working with our federal elected officials needs to be a top priority. We must urge Congress and the president to provide additional federal relief to help stabilize our state’s budget and to provide additional subsidies to address public health needs and the economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic.

I fully support the executive actions taken by Gov. Walz to deal with the pandemic. A strong public health response now will ultimately strengthen the economic recovery later. We also need to strengthen the unemployment insurance programs to provide aid to those who have lost their jobs, and provide economic support to small businesses.

Will you support the passage of a bonding bill in 2021 or 2022? If so, where should the priorities be?

Yes, we need to pass a large bonding bill because interest rates are low, we need to create jobs and our state public infrastructure is in need of repair. Our priorities should be fixing the state’s crumbling roads and bridges, upgrading sewer and water systems, maintaining lands and buildings that the state and local governments already own and provide historic investments in under-represented communities.

My top priority is to preserve and expand access to affordable housing. We need to create a full range of housing choices, including supportive housing for people experiencing homelessness, senior housing, family housing, and new homeownership opportunities.

I support full funding of public transportation and transit, but we need to find a different source of revenue to fund it.

Chris Wright

Chris Wright

Chris Wright

City of residence: Minneapolis

Education: Two-year stint at the University of Minnesota and Northwestern Electronics Institute. Highest level of degree: Associate of electronics

Occupation: IT technician

Community involvement: 1986 Co-founder of the Grassroots Legalize Cannabis Party; Organizer of 31 cannabis rallies since 1987; 1988 CD5 Congressional Candidate; 1998, 2010, 2014 and 2018 candidate for governor; Executive director of the Grassroots Party

Contact information: wrightforstatesenate.com

How should the 2021 Legislature handle the budget issues and meet school and societal needs caused by COVID-19?

I would monetize public infrastructure through the regulation of state chartered banks without taxation or bonding, thus freeing up public dollars in the state general fund to meet the emergency. By providing transportation, renewable energy, rural broadband, hospital and school infrastructure we would create local self-reliance, great jobs, great roads, low-cost energy, world-class communications, along with better health and schools.

Will you support the passage of a bonding bill in 2021 or 2022? If so, where should the priorities be?

I prefer monetizing infrastructure in lieu of bonding and taxation through bank regulation. Why pay interest to investors for the infrastructure we could create without it? However, since corporate greed rules Minnesota, I’d probably be forced to surrender to greedy money-grabbers to get a damn road built. I would prioritize transportation, renewable energy and rural broadband. Cannabis makes you cough, but politics makes you gag.

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