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Voters in Brooklyn Park and Brooklyn Center will elect their representatives in both the Minnesota House of Representatives and Senate in the Nov. 3 general election.

Voters in Brooklyn Park and Brooklyn Center will elect their representatives in both the Minnesota House of Representatives and Senate in the Nov. 3 general election.

Three candidates are running for the House District 40B seat, which represents Brooklyn Center and parts of southeast Brooklyn Park: Democrat incumbent Samantha Vang, Republican Charlotte Smith, and Legal Marijuana Now party candidate Mary O’Connor.

Two candidates are running in House District 40A, which represents the majority of Brooklyn Park south of 85th Avenue: Democrat incumbent Michael Nelson and Republican David True.

In House District 36B, which represents northern Brooklyn Park and parts of Coon Rapids, current House Speaker and Democrat Melissa Hortman faces Republican challenger Scott Simmons.

In the race for Senate District 40, Democrat and incumbent Chris Eaton faces Republican challenger Robert Marvin.

Each candidate was asked to provide their biographical information and answer a questionnaire.

Smith, True and Marvin did not return their questionnaires prior to the Sun Post’s press time.

House District 40B

Samantha Vang

City of residence: Brooklyn Center

Education: B.A in Political Science and Communications Studies

Occupation: Housing advocate

Community involvement: No response

Contact information: info@samanthavang.org or 763-560-1485

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

My sister is a teacher and my younger brother is in high school, and both are doing distance learning. I saw firsthand how tough it can be to teach and learn in this different environment with needs that have been exacerbated by COVID-19. We need to do more to close the achievement gaps whether that is by continued funding for our schools and/or providing needed services to families. Overall, we must ensure the wellbeing of families by addressing housing, food, and job insecurities. As a housing advocate, I am working to address the wave of evictions expected by looking at measures to limit barriers to find housing and provide housing assistance to families unable to afford their homes.

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

Yes, the bonding bill will add a much-needed boost to the economy and support local jobs in the area. Priorities should be focused on state projects that demands an urgency to our states needs whether that ensuring communities receive clean water to repairing bridges and needed services to help families during this difficult time.

Mary O’Connor

City of residence: Brooklyn Center

Education: Certificate in Information Systems Analysis and Design from the University of Minnesota

Occupation: Retired

Community involvement: Brooklyn Center City Council, Charter Commission, and I was a school volunteer.

Contact information: mary_oconnor08@hotmail.com

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

The Minnesota State budget is going into deficit for this biennium and the next. State agencies, E-12 education and higher education should downsize. Aids and credits should end.

Schools should have virtual education until we get a vaccine. If employees work from home and students learn from home we can save money and keep people safe.

There will be more COVID-19 expenses for at least another year. By cutting state expenditures we can cover these expenses and get our state budget out of deficit.

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

Minnesota should not have a bonding bill in 2021 or 2022 except for necessary state highway construction. It’s time to downsize and use the buildings we have, not build new ones.

House District 40A

Michael V. Nelson

City of residence: Brooklyn Park

Education: Hennepin Technical College

Occupation: Retired Carpenter/Carpenter Business Agent

Community involvement: Local DFL Senate District, Carpenters Local 851, Boy Scout Leader

Contact information: 763-614-7866 or rep.michaelnelson@comcast.net

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

We have been challenged with tough budgets in the past and will face this one head on. Nothing should be off the table including using some of the budget reserves, surgical cutting of current spending and raising revenue. We also should look at ways to spur the economy because when the economy improves it also brings in more revenue to the state.

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

Yes, I have and will continue to support the bonding bill. A large part of any bonding bill is repairs and upkeep on our public owned buildings plus it creates jobs that put people to work which in turn raises revenue.

House District 36B

Melissa Hortman

City of residence: Brooklyn Park

Education: J.D. University of Minnesota Law School

Occupation: Attorney

Community involvement: Former Girl Scout leader and Sunday School teacher

Contact information: Melissahortman.com

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

COVID-19 is a public safety, health, and economic challenge. The first duty of government in our state’s constitution is to ensure the safety of the public. This virus has made it incredibly difficult to keep all Minnesotans safe. Part of our safety and well-being includes our economic security. The Legislature and governor should continue to work together to try to reduce the spread of the virus, to prepare health care facilities and personnel to treat Minnesotans who contract the virus, and to provide economic assistance for those who are impacted by the virus. Given that the spread of this virus has not yet come under control in the United States, the virus has had a more significant impact on Minnesotans for a longer duration than any of us imagined. I am hopeful that continued efforts by the governor, the Legislature, and most importantly, the people of Minnesota, will bring the virus under control soon, so we can resume many activities that we miss from pre-pandemic times – like large social events. It seems clear that we will be living with COVID-19 for several more months, so we must carry on with as many social, economic and educational activities as we can while preventing the spread of this disease. That means it is important for all Minnesotans to engage in masking, social distancing, hand-washing, and paying attention to ventilation and the number of participants in our activities.

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

Yes, the priorities should be wastewater infrastructure, transit, roads, bridges, and higher education facilities.

Scott Simmons

City of residence: Brooklyn Park

Education: Law degree from William Mitchell College of Law; Masters degree in Business Administration from Drake University; and Bachelor’s degree from St. Olaf College

Occupation: Public sector attorney

Community involvement: Charter Commission Chair; City Council; Parks Planning Advisory Team

Contact information: simmonsforhouse@gmail.com

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

It is imperative that we revitalize and strengthen our local economy by supporting families and small businesses trying to recover from the economic harms caused by COVID-19. An estimated $6 billion deficit will force the Legislature to make difficult choices and make prudent spending decisions.

Keys to recovery will be an easing of burdensome regulations, encouragement of local control and the protection of taxpayers from potentially job-killing and devastating tax increases, which will only move us backwards.

Spending priorities must be established with full and transparent participation. We can no longer abide by unilateral and arbitrary decisions; rather, we must insist that the Legislature and Minnesotans take part in decisions about how to move forward and return to the pre-COVID prosperity we experienced until March.

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

The use of the state’s borrowing authority to bond for public infrastructure projects of state or regional significance is appropriate. Priorities in 2021 should be to preserve or maintain existing facilities that are in disrepair or need modernization to contemporary standards. Other vital uses for bonding include roads and bridges, or public infrastructure.

However, just as Congress should not earmark appropriations as political rewards, neither should the Legislature use bonding as a tool to hand out political favors.

The existence and size of bonding legislation in 2021 depends on what happens in 2020. The outcome remains uncertain and we know that bonding bills never occur in a vacuum.

Because the state likely faces a $6 billion deficit, the Legislature must be prudent with the state’s “credit card.” We must be able to pay for debt service costs. The size of the bill cannot be so excessive that taxes must be raised to pay for it. The state’s debt is like our own; we must be able to pay the bills when they come due.


Senate District 40

Chris Eaton

City of residence: Brooklyn Center

Education: AA RN degree, Anoka Ramsey Community College

Occupation: RN, Minnesota Senator

Community involvement: I am in my ninth year serving in the Minnesota Senate. I am a RN with 40 years experience with adults with mental health issues, union member since 1974, with AFSCME and MNA.

Contact information: chrise@senate.mn 651-402-3060

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

We need to balance the state budget without harming those most impacted by the economic challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic and societal disparities. I also believe educators need more resources.

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

Yes. We need to invest in: asset preservation ( U of M and state colleges); Clean water-Public Facilities Authority- upgrade waste water plants; Transportation and transit; public safety training facilities.

Copyright © 2020 at Sun Newspapers/ APG Media of East Central Minnesota. Digital dissemination of this content without prior written consent is a violation of federal law and may be subject to legal action.

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