US House and Senate Race

As the 2020 election draws near, we sent out candidate surveys to better understand how our Central MN candidates hope to represent us. Because we are interested in building communities that emphasizes our shared sense of safety in hopes to decrease fear and suspicion of those who are different from us, we focused our questions on these issues. We will share the responses from all candidates who were gracious enough to share their vision for our communities. We hope the information helps you find candidates who will represent you in elected office.

This blog explores US House and Senate races in our area. 

Senator

Tina Smith

What 3 words best describe how you would serve your constituents? 

Compassionate, Progressive Problem-Solver

If elected, what would be your top priority while in office? 

The rising cost of health care, especially prescription drugs, is the number one issue that I hear about from Minnesotans, which is why the first thing I did when I arrived in the Senate was take on the big pharmaceutical companies. And it’s why I passed into law my bipartisan bill to help lower the cost of insulin. But this year has been especially challenging. Between the coronavirus pandemic that has shaken the foundation of many Minnesota families and businesses, and the murder of George Floyd right here in Minnesota, we have so much more work to do to build back better and to address the systemic racism in our society.

Do you support the #BlackLivesMatter movement for racial justice in our country?

 Yes

Do you believe that all people should be able to practice their religion freely and without discrimination in America? 

Yes

Do you believe in full rights and freedom for our LGBTQ+ neighbors?

Yes

Do you believe that businesses should be able to discriminate (both in hiring and in whom they serve) based on sexual orientation? 

No

Do you support the mask mandate to slow the spread of COVID-19?

Yes

Do you believe that climate change is real?

Yes

What would you do if you heard a friend or family member disparaging someone based on their religion, ethnicity, skin color, or sexual orientation?

I would step up and, while attempting to deescalate the situation, identify the offensive remark and, if necessary, discuss what was problematic about it. I would then make clear that respect and tolerance are important values and that the disparaging comment goes against those values.

If elected, how do you plan to build empathetic connections with your constituents?

Since joining the Senate, my office has held hundreds of meetings with constituents from across the state and, in the midst of the pandemic, continues to do so virtually.

If elected, how will you help your constituents feel a greater sense of safety and hope in their community?

The murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and so many others have underscored the dire need to systematically reform policing at the local, state, and federal levels. All Minnesotans–including Black, Brown, and Indigenous Minnesotans–should have the right to feel safe in their communities, and that includes when interacting with police. To do this, we must reimagine policing to ensure that de-escalation and community engagement are at the forefront of decisions and training. I helped introduce the Justice in Policing Act, which would change the culture of departments by holding police accountable, improving police training and practices, making lynching a federal hate crime, and making it a federal crime to conspire to violate existing federal laws.

I also wrote the Supporting Innovation in Public Safety Act, which would help state, local, and Tribal governments reimagine policing in their communities by funding innovative projects and best practices to transform how we deliver public safety and other social services.

If elected, how will you help diverse neighbors decrease their fear and suspicion of one another?

I believe we can all work collectively to make a more equitable and fair nation and that by working toward that outcome, we all benefit. One way we can start to address this is by returning decency to the White House. Much of the fear and division in this country has been fomented by Donald Trump and his leadership, or lack thereof, that sets the tone for the rest of our country.

If elected, what are your plans to address poverty and the widening income gap and income disparities? 

Minnesota has some of the worst disparities in wages and income of any state in America, so we have much work to do. As Lieutenant Governor, I worked hard to raise our minimum wage and close the gender pay gap. Still, too many people, especially women of color, don’t get equal pay.

In Washington, I’m fighting to pass federal legislation to help close the income gap for women and the Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) community. The bill would strengthen rules against discriminatory pay practices and make it easier for workers to challenge pay discrimination.

We must address economic disparities and create more opportunity by passing universal paid medical and family leave to allow parents to take time off work, with pay, to care for a new child or a sick family member. We should create better access to capital for small businesses, especially minority-owned businesses. And we must protect the right to organize, because when people are able to join together to fight for livable wages, a safe work environment, and quality benefits for their families, we all do better.

 

Jason Lewis

Candidate Jason Lewis did not fill out the survey. He also did not communicate with us at all.

 

To learn more about the candidates, view the links to media below:

Sen. Tina Smith, challenger Jason Lewis clash in debate for Minnesota Senate seat

https://www.startribune.com/tina-smith-jason-lewis-clash-in-debate/572615332/

 

US Representative – CD6

Tawnja Zahradka

What 3 words best describe how you would serve your constituents? 

Honestly, Proudly, Transparently

If elected, what would be your top priority while in office? 

Saving our Democracy

Do you support the #BlackLivesMatter movement for racial justice in our country?

 Yes

Do you believe that all people should be able to practice their religion freely and without discrimination in America? 

Yes

Do you believe in full rights and freedom for our LGBTQ+ neighbors?

Yes

Do you believe that businesses should be able to discriminate (both in hiring and in whom they serve) based on sexual orientation? 

No

Do you support the mask mandate to slow the spread of COVID-19?

Yes

Do you believe that climate change is real?

Yes

What would you do if you heard a friend or family member disparaging someone based on their religion, ethnicity, skin color, or sexual orientation?

STOP this Behavior on The SPOT!

If elected, how do you plan to build empathetic connections with your constituents?

One-on-One Listening Sessions

If elected, how will you help your constituents feel a greater sense of safety and hope in their community?

Community Outreach Events Uniting All CD6 Constituents

If elected, how will you help diverse neighbors decrease their fear and suspicion of one another?

Potlucks and Children Play Dates

If elected, what are your plans to address poverty and the widening income gap and income disparities? 

Minimum Wage Must be $15 or MORE Top1% Must Pay Their Fare Share NOW

Anything else you would like to add?

TawnjaForCongress.com

 

Tom Emmer

Tom did not fill out our survey. Instead, he submitted this letter to us via email.

St. Cloud is an incredibly diverse and important part of Minnesota’s Sixth District. The area represents dozens of cultures and traditions from around the world, making it the embodiment of the melting pot that American was designed to be. 

Throughout my time in Congress, I’ve sought to build relationships and work closely with officials in and around St. Cloud on issues of local and national significance. When the tragic death of George Floyd heightened calls for police reform in our country, I worked with St. Cloud Chief of Police Blair Anderson and other stakeholders in the area to draft legislation that brought St. Cloud-inspired community policing concepts to the national level. We introduced the Community OutPost (COP) Outreach and Engagement Act (H.R. 7245) which is modeled after the success of the St. Cloud Police Department’s “COP House” and provides federal resources to establish similar Community OutPosts around the country. As we have seen through the successes of the St. Cloud COP House, these efforts can help improve the relationship between our law enforcement officers and the residents of the communities they serve. 

Additionally, our office has worked extensively with the St. Cloud-based Center of Victims of Torture (CVT) to ensure federal grants and resources are provided to help individuals in our area who have experienced conflict or violence during their lifetime. This is especially important for those of Somali-descent who sought refuge in the United States from war torn regions of Africa. Our casework team has also helped reunite several children who got tangled up in the immigration system with their families right here in the Sixth District. 

Lastly, after learning of Abby Honold’s horrific sexual assault on campus at the University of Minnesota, I  introduced bi-partisan legislation with Senator Klobuchar to promote the use of of trauma-informed training for law enforcement officers responding to instances of rape and sexual trauma. This training is key to treating victims of these crimes in the most compassionate manner possible while giving law enforcement the information they need to quickly resolve the case. 

Although we may not agree on every issue, I have appreciated the opportunity to meet with members of Unite Cloud during your visits to Washington, D.C. and I look forward to continuing to work together on ways so we can bring Minnesota’s best solutions to Congress.

To learn more about the candidates, view the link to media below:

Incumbent Emmer will face Democrat Zahradka for D6 seat in November

https://www.brainerddispatch.com/news/government-and-politics/6613554-Incumbent-Emmer-will-face-Democrat-Zahradka-for-D6-seat-in-November

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