We have some of the best local schools and the most dedicated teachers in the state. However, our schools succeed even though our legislators have consistently failed them. Despite what our current representatives claim, they treat teachers like enemies and schools like factories. I am an educator. I know our teachers, and I know our schools. They deserve better.
Our schools shape our future. Schools teach us new skills, but they also help us meet new challenges, and they encourage us to engage with people who don’t look like us. Our children are entering a world unlike the one we grew up in, where they will meet a wider variety of people and more frequently change jobs. We need an education that can teach our young people to become versatile citizens.
The legislature funds our schools like we’re a small town, and we aren’t anymore. I will work to fund our schools appropriately and honestly so that our children get the attention they deserve. We need smaller class sizes. We need additional support staff so that our young people receive the guidance that they need. And I will work to energize how we teach citizenship in our public schools by creating a Congress in the School program and helping our kids become better communicators. We need better schools for a healthier community and a better democracy.
Our current approach to healthcare fails too many Minnesotans. It’s too expensive and too complicated. Some might say that we should let the market figure it out. We tried that; it doesn’t work. But bad policy creates some of the issues that cause healthcare to be expensive, so we need good policy to fix the problem. A healthcare system that only benefits the healthy and wealthy is morally wrong, and it’s not going to work.
We can’t wait for the federal government to solve our healthcare crisis. Given our political climate, we need to make a number of improvements on the state level immediately, like setting up a public option right here in Minnesota. We deserve better and more affordable healthcare.
Elected officials should be public servants. They need to be reliable and accessible to all their constituents. But public service isn’t passive; it is active. An elected official should be a leader, should reach out to the community, and have a vision and the skill and will to communicate it.
I believe a healthy democracy manages conflict rather than eliminating it. It’s not the job of government or the private sector to solve all our problems. But elected officials must provide leadership and foster connections between elements of a community, stand up for each of us, and make all of us stronger.
When I am elected, I will hold a monthly town hall meeting and write regular columns for our local media. I can’t say you’ll always agree with me. But you’ll always know what I believe, where to find me, and how to get in touch. And you can trust me to always call you back.
We deserve representatives who don’t take us for granted, who work hard to listen to and be heard by all of us.
We often complain about the role of money in our politics. While I was campaigning in 2016, a letter carrier told me she was going to vote for whomever sent the fewest mailers.
I get it. Our elected officials have had years to do something about how money has corrupted our politics, but they haven’t done a thing. Instead they throw up their hands, complain, and pretend to be powerless to stop it.
When I am in office, I won’t do that. I will work to pass legislation that increases transparency in government. I will advocate to eliminate some of the perks legislators get. I will work for more accountability in campaign finances so that we know who is paying for all those mailers, and I will lower campaign spending limits so legislators can work on creating good policy instead of raising money.
Many Minnesotans have experienced horrific abuse in assisted-living and memory-care facilities, and our current way of handling these situations is inadequate. The Elder Abuse Consumer Workgroup has identified some common-sense policies to prevent this abuse from happening in the future. We should implement them immediately.
For example, we should require licensure for assisted-living facilities. Minnesota is the only state in the country that doesn’t require that these facilities go through a licensure or oversight process, so we currently have no way of knowing if they can meet the care needs of older Minnesotans.
We also need to expand the rights of vulnerable adults and families. We should ban deceptive marketing practices that target vulnerable adults, and we should establish anti-retaliation laws to protect those who report abuse. We should also allow victims and families to seek justice when abuse has been committed.
Implementing these policies will help ensure that older Minnesotans are treated with dignity and respect.
In the past years, the poverty rate in the St.Cloud area has doubled. Currently, 26% of St. Cloud lives in poverty. Of course this is disturbing. But what should concern us just as much is the fact that poverty has grown even though our unemployment rate is under 4%. Statistics like these are complicated, but it is crystal clear many of our neighbors have jobs but also struggle to make ends meet. Add to this the members of our community who live in distress, who spend the bulk of their income on housing, and you see that our economy is not what it should be and not what we deserve.
Economic inequality is not an issue only for those who suffer. When paychecks only cover the basics of survival, our neighbors can’t support their local businesses, and those businesses in turn can’t grow the way they should. In addition to being unfair and immoral, this disparity is bad for all of us.
When I am in office, I will strengthen our nonprofit sector to increase social mobility, invest in education to prepare capable workers who can grow with their occupations, and develop incentives to foster entrepreneurship and local business.