House District 56B, which includes portions of Burnsville and Lakeville, features a race between Republican Roz Peterson, a former state representative from Lakeville, and DFLer Kaela Berg. The seat is currently held by Rep. Alice Mann, DFL-Lakeville, who isn’t seeking re-election.

Following are their responses to the newspaper’s questionnaire.

Kaela Berg

Age: 47

House District 56B candidate questionnaire

Kaela Berg

Family: Sons, Jerrett Berg, 20, Jake Berg, 18

Occupation: Flight attendant, independent labor consultant, former director of the Minnesota Fair Trade Coalition, organizer

Education: Ricks College (BYU Idaho)

Endorsements: United Steelworkers, Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, AFSCME Council 5, Women Winning, UFCW 1189, LiUNA, MN AFL-CIO, U.S. Sen. Tina Smith, Sierra Club, Rep. Alice Mann, OutFront, DFL Environmental, Stonewall, Latino Caucuses, MYDFL, National Democratic Redistricting Committee, Emily’s List, SEIU, EdMN, MN350, Leagues of Conservation Voters, MAPE, MN Orange Star Candidate, Teamsters 120 and Joint Council 32, BLET (Railroad Union),  Planned Parenthood, NCSRCC (Carpenters Union), NARAL

Previous elected, appointed or volunteer positions: Union steward, MSP chair Rapid Response, local vice president, local president (United Steelworkers); Grievance co-chair MEC, MSP chair Government Affairs (AFA-CWA), former vice-chair Senate District 56 DFL, 2016 DNC delegate , former SCC member, former Senate District 56 DFL director.

1) The state is projected to have at least a $2.4 billion budget deficit in the next session, as the Legislature will be tasked with adopting a two-year budget in 2021. What would be your approach to balancing the budget in terms of reducing spending and/or raising taxes and fees? Be as specific as possible.

A healthy budget means we’re able to maintain our roads and bridges, we can keep our communities safe, and our kids have a chance at a great education. Balancing a budget in the aftermath of a global pandemic is going to take hard but intentional decision making.  It’s imperative that both sides of the aisle be willing to work together to make sure we are putting the best interests of Minnesotans ahead of any ideological differences. Solutions like a strong bonding bill that puts Minnesotans back to work, providing the resources to our schools and small business to ensure the success of our economy post COVID-19, and exploring new sources of revenue such as legalizing and taxing recreational marijuana are possible if we work together.

2) What is the best way that state government can support the economy as it emerges from COVID-19 restrictions on businesses and gatherings and continue to protect public health and reduce the spread of COVID-19?

There are no easy answers to the myriad concerns and challenges families are facing during these uncertain times. The most important thing we need to be doing is making sure that we are keeping Minnesotans healthy and safe. We must continue to listen to the experts and uphold the safety measures we have in place. Mask mandates, hybrid learning and decreased capacity in public spaces to name a few. Once we emerge post COVID-19, taking care of our business, schools and communities to foster robust economic recovery must be a top priority for legislators.

3) Affordable health care remains a concern to many Minnesotans. Do you support expansion of government-run health insurance plans? If not, what options do you support to stabilize health insurance premiums?

Nobody in this country should be unable to access care or die simply because they are poor. Health care is a human right. A Minnesota Care buy-in option will make it possible for every Minnesotan to have reliable and affordable health care. This option would mean that your health care is not tied to employment and would be portable from one job to another ensuring there is no lapse of care. I will work tirelessly to make sure every family in our communities has access to reliable, affordable and quality health care.

4) Mandated paid family and medical leave for all Minnesota employers was debated in 2020. It passed the House but failed in the Senate. Do you support such a mandate? Why or why not?

I absolutely support this. Being able to care for an aging parent, a newborn baby or a terminally sick family member without it becoming a financial crisis, should not be a privilege afforded only to the wealthy or financially secure. Every human being deserves to care for their loved ones. Earned sick and safe time also means that employers retain their skilled and experienced workers and ensures economic security for working families.

5) Do you agree or disagree that the governor’s executive powers and the bonding bill were linked in negotiations? Why or why not? Do you believe the emergency powers act should be changed to alter the governor’s peacetime emergency powers? If so, how?

The governor’s emergency powers should not have been tied to the bonding bill. Our governor has listened to experts and taken swift action to keep Minnesotans safe. As we still have many COVID-19 cases, we must continue to keep families healthy and safe. We need a strong bonding bill to put people to work to maintain critical infrastructure and reboot the economy. These separate but equally important issues will keep us safe and create a successful post-COVID-19 society. I will put people before politics to ensure that we stop politicizing this issue, and do the hard work to do what’s right.

Roz Peterson

House District 56B candidate questionnaire

Roz Peterson

 Age:​ 55

 Family:​ Husband Tim (33 years), daughter Kayla, 25, son Hunter, 24, Lakeville South graduates

Occupation:​ Cerron Commercial Properties, Realtor; small business owner and former Lakeville, Savage, Cannon Falls and Northfield Snyder Drug Owner

Education:​ Gustavus Adolphus College, B.A. business management and psychology, cum laude; Realtor, CCIM designee; Council of State Governments, Minnesota Excellence in Public Service and Early Learning fellow

Endorsements: Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association, Republican Party – MNGOP, Minnesota Realtors Association PAC, Housing First, Minnesota Chamber of Commerce Leadership Fund PAC, Dakota County Regional Chamber, Long Term Care Providers, Women Lead, Minnesota Gun Owners, MCCL, Minnesota Farm Bureau, Minnesotans for Affordable Health Insurance, National Federation of Independent Business PAC

Previous elected, appointed or volunteer positions: Public service: state representative, two terms – assistant majority leader, Health and Human Services Reform vice chair, Governor’s Mental Health Task Force, ISD 194 Board of Education director eight years and past  chair, Minnesota School Boards Association director, Minnesota State High School League board director, Big 4-Cities, Counties, Schools and Townships board director, Community Ed Advisory Council

​Community Service: Lakeville Chamber president and Foundation chair, Dakota County Regional Chamber chair, Downtown Lakeville Business Association board, Hosanna! Church, Girl Scout leader, Hope for Tomorrow Mentor, 360 Communities Lewis House Golf Tournament, Orchard Lake PTO vice chair. See ​www.rozpeterson.com​ for more information.

1) The state is projected to have at least a $2.4 billion budget deficit in the next session, as the Legislature will be tasked with adopting a two-year budget in 2021. What would be your approach to balancing the budget in terms of reducing spending and/or raising taxes and fees? Be as specific as possible.

State budgets should reflect family budgets. The shutdown of the economy has been devastating. People are trying to just make ends meet and there is a lot of uncertainty for the future. Now is not the time to increase burdens on families with higher taxes. Instead, let’s eliminate fraud, waste and abuse and find creative solutions to help people so that our government works for you, not the other way around. A place to start is with the findings from the Office of the Legislative Auditor, which uncovered hundreds of millions of dollars of waste, fraud and abuse. Our state bureaucratic agencies need to be streamlined and the past few months prove we can do things differently. In contrast, the Democrat-controlled House voted for a $12 billion tax increase while cutting funding to nursing homes. I will work hard to protect your pocketbook and prioritize the things that matter most to our community.

2) What is the best way that state government can support the economy as it emerges from COVID-19 restrictions on businesses and gatherings and continue to protect public health and reduce the spread of COVID-19?

The best way our government can support the economy and protect public health is by listening, working together, and finding common ground solutions that work for everyone. Our neighboring states had 39% fewer deaths, with fewer restrictions. We should allow more local control, support for testing and better communication about outbreaks. Mandates on small businesses are strangling them and 40% to 85% of restaurants are projected to close. Meanwhile large corporations have been allowed to conduct business as usual while the little guy suffers. This has created a huge gap in the “haves” and the “have nots.” We will get through this together and I’m encouraged that a vaccine should be ready by the first of the year. For now I think that businesses should be able to make their own decisions on how to be open and patrons should make their own decisions on how they want to conduct their lives.

3) Affordable health care remains a concern to many Minnesotans. Do you support expansion of government-run health insurance plans? If not, what options do you support to stabilize health insurance premiums?

As a former drug store operator, I understand the complexities of health insurance costs. Minnesota had the lowest cost, highest quality health care system in the nation prior to Obamacare passage. After that, we became the fifth highest cost. While in the Legislature, we passed reinsurance, which lowered premiums up to 20%. I also passed several other provisions to deliver health care more efficiently, lowering costs and providing better service as well as ending surprise billing. I do not support government-run health care. The MNsure exchange is bad enough to try to navigate. I’d rather let the professionals in the private sector deliver this critical service who are more nimble, more innovative and more motivated to provide quality care. Other solutions include increased price transparency, price estimates before services, allowing more health coverage options and assuring that local doctors are covered under your plan.

4​) Mandated paid family and medical leave for all Minnesota employers was debated in 2020. It passed the House but failed in the Senate. Do you support such a mandate? Why or why not?

Certainly all of us want to be able to take care of loved ones and be able to afford to stay home when sick. The challenge is how to pay for mandated paid family and medical leave. The good news is that you can buy insurance right now that will cover these costs and likely for less than the tax proposed. This bill will simply take money out of your pocket and would likely result in fewer jobs because of the increased costs on employers and employees. I’d rather empower the individual than burden people with more taxes.

5) Do you agree or disagree that the governor’s executive powers and the bonding bill were linked in negotiations? Why or why not? Do you believe the emergency powers act should be changed to alter the governor’s peacetime emergency powers? If so, how?

I wasn’t part of the negotiations; however when I was in the majority in the Legislature, we made sure to work with the other side of the aisle so that the bonding bill did pass. While the initial “peacetime emergency” made sense, I don’t think anyone thought that it would last for over six months. We have had a record number of special sessions and nothing has been accomplished. One person should not be able to pass laws into perpetuity without legislative input and feedback from the people. This is why I believe this will be challenged in the courts.

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