House candidates discuss civility, budget deficit, DM#x0026;E
By Dawn Schuett
In one of the last candidate forums before the Nov. 2 election, the incumbents and challengers for four Minnesota House districts repeated the reasons they believe voters should cast ballots for them.
About 100 people attended the forum Wednesday at University Center Rochester and heard from Republican Rep. Randy Demmer and DFL challenger Spencer Stevens, both running for district seat 29A; Republican Rep. Fran Bradley and DFL challenger Kim Norton for seat 29B; Republican Rep. Carla Nelson and DFL challenger Tina Liebling for seat 30A; and Republican Rep. Bill Kuisle and DFL challenger Andy Welti for seat 30B.
The League of Women Voters co-sponsored the forum along with the Post-Bulletin and University of Minnesota Rochester.
Questions answered by the candidates covered topics such as civility in the Legislature, a looming state budget deficit and the proposed upgrade of the Dakota, Minnesota and Eastern Railroad.
One audience member asked the candidates if they would be willing to help small businesses provide health insurance to their employees and how they would do it.
Norton said she "absolutely" would and supports small businesses buying into MinnesotaCare or an alternative.
Bradley said he supports allowing small businesses to group together in alliances and co-ops for health insurance coverage for their employees, but he disagrees with the notion of putting more people on MinnesotaCare.
Stevens said something needs to be done to address the rising costs of health care, and legislators should be working with small businesses on the issue.
Demmer said legislators should work with small businesses to help them but what kind of "help" needs to be defined.
All eight candidates said they're committed to making Minnesota the best it can be and working for constituents to improve the quality of their lives.
Liebling said she'd fight for a "fiscally responsible, fair and forward-thinking Minnesota" if elected.
Minnesota is still one of the best states in the nation to live, Nelson said, and it's been because of strong leadership.
"No matter what indicators you look at, we are still at the top of the charts," she said.
Welti said he grew up in a Minnesota where people were more optimistic. That optimism has waned in the past four years, and it's time for a change, he said. "It's looking at a new direction for the state."
Kuisle said changes in leadership now might result in even tougher economic times for Minnesota because challengers want to restore funding cuts made in the last biennium.
"We are going to be back in the soup if we allow things to change," he said. "We need solid leadership to go up there and make the tough decisions."