State Senate candidates Boldon, Navitsky, Rood show different political philosophies
The race is to fill the seat vacated by state Sen. Dave Senjem.
ROCHESTER — Republican Ken Navitsky, state DFL Rep. Liz Boldon and Grassroots-Legalize Cannabis candidate Bill Rood presented stark differences in their policy approaches to taxes, spending and other issues in a forum Thursday.
The three are running to represent state Senate District 25. The seat became open after Sen. Dave Senjem chose to retire after six terms.
The forum was held at Rochester Public Library and was sponsored by the Rochester chapter of the League of Women Voters.
Question: What would be your approach to K-12 education funding?
Navitsky: I think that personally school choice is a great thing. School choice creates competition. Choice allows people of all races and ethnicites the opportunity to choose where they’d like to go to school. I think those tax dollars need to follow the student. As far as the budget goes, I think it’s very important that we hold people accountable. If we have poor teachers that are horrible at their job but they got tenure, I think we need to get them out of there. We have to start paying attention in requiring that people are actually doing the job that needs to be done and giving them the just rewards.
Bolden: Every child deserves a world-class education and all the opportunities that that brings. We need to fully fund education. That is something we have not done in Minnesota for a very, very, very long time. We need to fully fund the special education cross subsidy. We need to fully fund the English language cross subsidy. We need to invest in smaller class sizes. And we need to be sure that teachers and schools have the resources that they need. We are asking teachers and educators to do so much. They are having to be the school nurse, they are having to the a counselor, and they are having to be a social worker. And it’s not fair.
Rood: A lot of the difficulties that the public schools are having in terms of funding results from the lockdown the past two years. My daughter felt forced to homeschool her two children. One of the things we need to do is make sure that all children are being served by public schools. There was no need to lock down. Kids are not immune, but they’re very unlikely to be significantly harmed by the disease.
Question: There has been a shortage of caregivers in the last few years. What can the legislature do to reduce care provider shortages?
Navitsky: There’s a few things. No. 1, any company that is looking to hire care providers has to offer benefit packages that are worthy of somebody going into this field. It is not easy being a care provide. The stuff they see is unbelievable. But if you want to attract people to any type of health care field, you have to give them something worthy of getting them off the couch. We have to create a culture of caring. Mayo Clinic is constantly doing things to entice people here. There’s no easy answer to this. But I think the enticement of free markets can make it attractive for those folks.
Bolden: The caring professions are one where we are experiencing a workforce shortage. Part of the challenge is related to burnout. Part of that is related to low wages. Whether we’re talking about child care workers or long-term care facility workers, if folks can make more at Kwik Trip than they can doing these other incredibly difficult and important jobs, can you really blame them? So we need to invest and raise some of our rates through the Department of Health Services. I also will point back to child care. We need to be sure that we’re reforming and investing in a childcare system so people can afford child care so they can be able to go into these professions.
Rood: I think it gets back to the whole COVID-19 thing. We’ve got to stop the mandates. We’ve got to stop discouraging people from going into this field or firing them from the field because they have not been vaccinated. So, we need to stop discouraging people from into the care fields.
Question: Lourdes High School and other area public schools went into lockdown recently due to a threat of gun violence. What common sense legislation would you support?
Rood: I think that some background checking is valid. I do support the Constitution, including the Second Amendment. I don’t own a gun myself, but I think there have been many instances where people with a gun have been able to stop some of this violence.
Navitsky: I’m a big proponent of the Second Amendment. Gun violence is unacceptable. You have to go through an awfully deep background check if you want to legally obtain a gun. But we have a huge mental health problem in this country. We convince kids that there’s no God, so they lose their faith. And we teach them that their country is an oppressive, horrible place. And then they go home to broken families. Nobody’s there to uphold them, let them know they love them and put them on a good path. And we all know what a train wreck social media is. And then we wonder why we have mental health issues in this country.
Boldon: This is an issue that I care deeply about. I’m the former Rochester chapter co-lead of Moms Demand Action, which is a group that works to end gun violence. I am a nurse and have cared for patients that are victims of gun violence. I’m a mom. I want my kids to be safe. So there are a number of things that we can and should be doing: Universal background checks to close the loopholes, to be sure that with every purchase of a firearm, there is a background check. We need Red Flag laws to be sure that for folks who are a danger to themselves or others, there’s a due process so they don’t have access to firearms. I just want to make a note about the (Lourdes High School incident.) I am very, very grateful that no one was physically injured. However, I want to recognize that our children are being traumatized. And we have to do better, it is wrong.