Election 2022: Senate District 24
KASSON — In addition to governor, Minnesota voters will decide the balance of power in the Legislature when they vote to elect 67 senators and 134 representatives.
In the Rochester area, voters will be focused on three state Senate races: Senate District 20 featuring state Rep. Steve Drazkowski (R-Mazeppa) and Bradley Drenckhahn (DFL-Zumbrota); Senate District 24 featuring Sen. Carla Nelson (R-Rochester) and Aleta Borrud (DFL-Rochester) and Senate District 25 featuring Rep. Liz Boldon (DFL-Rochester), Ken Navitsky (R-Rochester) and Bill Rood (Cannabis-Rochester).
In their words, the Senate District 24 candidates share where they stand on a projected government state surplus, crime, election security and a workforce shortage.
Political Party: Republican.
Employment: Minnesota State Senate.
Family: Husband, three grown sons and wives, two grandchildren, and my mother live nearby.
Education: Drake University, Iowa: bachelor of science education-special education, elementary reading specialist certification; University of Minnesota: master of education, M. Ed.-teacher leadership; secondary reading specialist certification.
Political experience: Minnesota State Senator, Senate Education Finance and Policy Chair, Senate Taxes Chair, MN Council on Latino Affairs; Governor's Workforce Development Board; Office on the Economic Status of Women Advisory Committee; Minnesota Capitol Area Architectural Planning Board; Minnesota Higher Education Facilities Authority Board; Minnesota Academic Excellence Foundation.
What are your top three priorities if elected and why?
Inflation Relief Package: Inflation is eating away at Minnesotan’s ability to feed their family, heat their homes and fill up their tanks. Yet our state coffers are overflowing with a $12 billion surplus. I remain focused on letting Minnesotans keep more of their hard-earned money and stretch their paychecks further.
Safe communities: Public safety is paramount. Without dedicated public safety officials, our lives and livelihoods are at stake. The anti-police rhetoric must cease. I will continue my support for those who take the oath and put on the uniform to protect public safety.
Excellence in Education: Our students, staff and families suffered greatly during two years of COVID-interrupted learning. I will continue to prioritize excellence in education with a focus on proven reading and math strategies, increased parent involvement and school linked mental health. Last year, I fought for and passed School Linked mental health grants. During this year's supplemental budget negotiations, I was disappointed that the House rejected over $925 million in state aid for reducing school Special Education Cross Subsidy costs, nearly $60 million to help students with reading loss, and $15 million for our most serious school mental health challenges. The House had other priorities — insisting on new and untested programs and mandates for our local schools and spending a fraction of the Senate on special education.
DFL Gov. Tim Walz, the DFL Speaker of the House and GOP Senate Majority Leader were unable to agree on how to divvy up a $9 billion state surplus. What would you support as a state legislator?
As Senate Tax Chair, I forged agreement with the House Tax chair on historic income tax cuts; elimination of taxes on Social Security benefits; property tax relief; and tax credits to help families with paid family leave, child care and dependent care. This word-for-word agreed upon tax package stalled when House leadership refused to take it up. I will push for passage of this inflation relief package.
Do you support changes to the state’s election laws to bolster public confidence in elections?
Public confidence in elections is paramount. We must continue to look at our electoral system to ensure it protects voter rights. Integrity of our election system and engenders public confidence. I support adopting provisional ballots, as do 46 other states. This common sense law lets everyone cast their vote and allows election officials to validate each unregistered voter's identity to ensure every vote matters. In addition, we must protect election officials and all voters from harassment, bullying or disenfranchisement.
Violent crime is up statewide by 21%, according to the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension. It’s true not only in the Twin Cities but in Greater Minnesota. What measures would you support to improve public safety?
I will champion efforts that support our men and women in uniform. I supported new programs to increase funding for police recruitment and retention along with efforts to hold criminals accountable. I supported efforts to keep repeat violent offenders in prison and ensure those who commit serious crimes are not released early. With the spike in violent crime, we must be aggressive on both fronts and I look forward to continuing my work to keep our communities safe. I am the only candidate in this race endorsed by the Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association.
Minnesota has record-low unemployment yet businesses still need workers. How would you address the worker shortage problem?
I will continue to support initiatives to prepare the workforce we need and remove barriers to workforce participation. Building our workforce starts with strong families and great education. I’ve championed, Cradle to Career, early literacy, career pathways like Bridges to Healthcare and Dual Training Pipeline. I also led the adoption of highly successful P-Tech, creating pathways to high demand careers through the public-private partnership with ISD 535 (Rochester Public Schools), RCTC, Mayo and IBM. I supported workforce scholarships. We must remove barriers to workforce participation. I will continue my long-standing support for paid family leave and child care tax credits.
Political Party: DFL.
What are your top three priorities if elected?
Lowering the cost of living: Our communities will be safer and healthier when everyone can afford a safe home, care for their loved ones, feed their family, and obtain the health care they need. Costs are rising worldwide due to factors beyond state control, but Minnesota has the resources to lower costs for families through support to make housing, child care, and health care more affordable. We can provide tax cuts to homeowners on fixed incomes, rent vouchers to prevent evictions for low-income families, and expand eligibility for public health insurance and programs to help pay for child care.
Protecting reproductive rights: The decision whether and if to start a family should remain between people, their doctors, and faith leaders, not politicians. As a doctor, I support the American Medical Association’s position that abortion is “critical reproductive healthcare” and that restricting abortion access is a “direct attack on the practice of medicine and the patient-physician relationship.” I promise to protect people’s right to make their most private medical decisions, including abortion, free from government intrusion and will oppose any effort to criminalize doctors for providing this care.
Funding our public schools: Our future depends on ensuring all our kids receive the quality education they deserve. I support fully funding our schools so that we can reduce class sizes, add counselors, and pay classroom paraprofessionals a living wage. Despite claims of “historic funding,” per-pupil state funding for public schools has not kept up with inflation and has fallen by 20% over the past two decades. This has meant real-term cuts here in our district and Rochester School District itself made $20 million in cuts to reduce a $23 million deficit.
DFL Gov. Tim Walz and GOP leaders were unable to agree on how to divvy up a $9 billion state surplus. What would you support as a state legislator?
There was a bipartisan agreement signed by all this year to allocate one-third of the surplus to rainy day savings, one-third towards targeted tax cuts for hardworking families and seniors, and one-third towards community needs including K-12 education, nursing homes, child care, public safety and infrastructure. I support that agreement and would have voted for it. Carla Nelson and her Senate colleagues unfortunately walked away from the table when it came time to get it done. I believe our state government’s most important priority should be to tackle costs for working people.
Do you support changes to the state’s election laws to bolster public confidence in elections?
Minnesota has the highest voter turnout in the U.S., and our elections are secure and fair. In fact, out of 3.3 million ballots cast in 2020, there were a mere 17 confirmed cases of fraudulent balloting. Our elected representatives owe it to those who run elections, our local election administrations and volunteers, to denounce disinformation about fraud in the 2020 elections. The “Big Lie” corrodes trust in our elections and makes volunteer election workers targets for attacks.
Violent crime is up statewide by 21%, according to a Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension. It’s true not only in the Twin Cities, but in greater Minnesota. What measures would you support to improve public safety?
Everyone deserves to get home safely at night and that includes peace officers. Our communities will be safer when everyone can afford a home, can provide for their loved ones, and can access the mental health care they need, including treatment for substance use disorder. I feel fortunate to live in my district, which has a falling violent crime rate due to the long-standing efforts of law enforcement to collaborate with social services, train officers in crisis intervention, and build relationships of trust within the community. Unfortunately, when the Republican Senate walked away from finishing their work, two important bills failed that I would have supported: an increase in local government aid to help pay for first responders, and a public safety bill. I support funding evidence-based programs like community youth interventions and training for law enforcement that reduce crime and improve trust.
Minnesota has record-low unemployment, yet businesses still need workers. How would you address the worker shortage problem?
Minnesota is a great place to live with wonderful amenities such as good schools, parks and a clean environment. But the fact is, many families are struggling just to get by. The average rent for a one-bedroom apartment in Rochester is more than two times the minimum wage. There must be a public partnership with private housing developers to build affordable housing that will allow families to own homes, set down roots in our communities and build wealth. The cost of child care is equal to a second mortgage. Minnesota must support our child care infrastructure and help families pay for quality early learning if everyone who wishes to work can afford to do so. Finally, a living hourly wage for a four-person family with two full-time working adults in Rochester is $23.79 for each earner. People working full time deserve a living wage that can support their family.
Election Day is Nov. 8, 2022. Find voting information at www.sos.state.mn.us/elections-voting/ .