Incumbent GOP state Rep. Duane Quam and DFL challenger Jamie Mahlberg debated a range of issues Monday in a forum sponsored by the League of Women Voters — Rochester.

Quam, an engineer, is running for his fourth straight term to represent District 25A in the state House of Representatives. Mahlberg, a Rochester Community and Technical College faculty member, is making his first bid for the House.

Here are three questions they were asked at the forum.

1. Do you support a public option buy-in for MinnesotaCare, the state program for low-income people?

Mahlberg: The short answer is yes. I don’t think we should be risking our health or our homes to pay for our health care. Every Minnesotan deserves comprehensive affordable health care. So, one of the things that we can do right away is expand MinnesotaCare through a buy-in.

Quam: If we look before the federal program jumped in, we led the nation in the number of people that had health insurance. When the federal program kicked in, I had people who had been on MinnesotaCare telling me that they had lost the doctors that their children saw. I think we should be creative and look at what we can do in Minnesota rather than what the federal program has trickled down to us.

2. Would you support Minnesota becoming a sanctuary state (meaning it would limit local and state cooperation with federal immigration enforcement agents).

Mahlberg: We have to look at the rich diversity that our immigrants bring to our community, to our economy and to our classroom. We can certainly say that we are going to ask the federal government to spend their own resources to enforce federal law, and we can then free up those resources for our local law enforcement to enforce state and local law.

Quam: If we ignore laws, instead of trying to change the ones we don’t agree with, then where do we stop ignoring the law? So, we have to cooperate with the federal government.

Do you support legislation that would allow ranked-choice voting for cities and counties and statewide use?

Mahlberg: I do support ranked-choice voting. We have so many disenfranchised voters right now who don’t believe their voices matter. Your voice does matter, and it can matter through a system that doesn’t require you to pick one or the other. There might be an option out there that wouldn’t maybe be your first choice but could be a second choice.

Quam: No.

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Matt, a graduate of Toledo University with a bachelor’s degree in English literature, got his start in journalism in the U.S. Army. For the last 16 years, he has worked at the PB and currently reports on politics and life.

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