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Voter Guide: State Representative, District 11A

Mike Sundin vs Jeff Dotseth

 

October 2, 2020

Jeff Dotseth

Background

I am a husband, father, grandfather, farmer, small business owner and a lifelong Minnesota resident. I care deeply for our community and the values we share. I am not a politician, I am just like the people of our district that are tired of not having their voices heard in St. Paul.

Please describe where you stand on the following issues in 25 words or fewer (each):

-Statewide pandemic mandates: The governor should work with the legislature on managing our response to the pandemic.

-Twin Metals, Polymet mining projects: I’m proud to support these projects and the thousands of jobs they would bring to northern Minnesota

Legalizing marijuana: Opposed. Too many unknowns about impacts to children's development and public safety.

Enbridge Line 3: Proud to support this important project, and disappointed my opponent has repeatedly voted with metro Democrats against it.

Making MinnesotaCare available to all: A "MinnesotaCare For All" plan would cripple our rural hospitals and likely cost too much to even be competitive against plans on the market today.

The legislature failed to pass the bonding bill this year, essentially because the two parties can’t seem to work together. It meant delayed projects, the proposed Willow River prison closure and matters such as the proposed consolidation between Carlton and Wrenshall are in limbo. What do you think needs to happen to stop this cycle of government paralysis?

It's clear that Mike Sundin can't convince Gov. Walz or DFL leadership to do what's right and keep the facility in Willow River open. The legislature passed funding for it, but Gov. Walz is cutting the program. If Mike Sundin and his party don't like it, they could de-link it from the other issues and pass a bill that keeps it open. I will fight hard to protect and restore these jobs and do what's right for our region even when it might not be popular with my own party.

George Floyd died in police custody in Minnesota, sparking protests against police practices and ongoing racial oppression that have crossed the globe. What do you think the state needs to do to make sure deaths like Floyd’s and others don’t keep happening and how do we address systemic racism?

The legislature has already passed bipartisan bills to stop chokeholds and improve police training. I would like to see how those improvements are implemented before we pass sweeping new legislation. I think if there are issues in some communities like Minneapolis, the city can deal with those issues — we shouldn't necessarily rush to pass major overhauls that impact police departments, even those that are doing a great job protecting their communities.

Mike Sundin (incumbent)

Background

I’ve had a very “hands on” preparation for public service. As a Cloquet School Board member, I learned the importance of government bodies working together to serve the public by providing proper funding and maintaining respect for local policy decisions. Union leadership roles have galvanized my commitment for working families.

Please describe where you stand on the following issues in 25 words or fewer (each):

- Statewide pandemic mandates: Rather than complaining about mandates we should practice personal responsibility and comply with sensible health guidelines. Covid 19 has taken 2,000 Minnesotans. Enough.

-Twin Metals, Polymet mining projects: Without exception, all mining activity in Minnesota must comply with our high standards of environmental protection. Let science guide us, not emotions.

-Legalizing marijuana: Before allowing for recreational marijuana use, we need to give law enforcement the tools to determine impairment levels for operating motor vehicles.

- Enbridge Line 3: Our appetite for oil is currently satisfied by rail tankers rather than pipelines in some cases. This is unsafe and pipelines are the safest alternatives.

- Making MinnesotaCare available to all: We should keep in mind that health care should be considered a “right” enjoyed by all. Assess through MN Care should be available to every citizen.

The legislature failed to pass the bonding bill this year, essentially because the two parties can’t seem to work together. It meant delayed projects, the proposed Willow River prison closure and matters such as the proposed consolidation between Carlton and Wrenshall are in limbo. What do you think needs to happen to stop this cycle of government paralysis?

A baseline bonding bill had been agreed to months ago. Negotiating between the Governor and Senate have been reduced to “hostage negotiations.” A sad statement given the importance of needs statewide. It’s my belief that bonding spending limits should be set according to what is affordable to the state, then prioritize what projects fit into the bill. Bonding should be required to be completed in the first half of the session to avoid “hostage negotiating”. A “clean” bonding bill, early in the legislative session, would give contractors that build and maintain Minnesota’s infrastructure a head start in our limited construction season. A set bonding threshold may well eliminate unnecessary pet projects.

George Floyd died in police custody in Minnesota, sparking protests against police practices and ongoing racial oppression that have crossed the globe. What do you think the state needs to do to make sure deaths like Floyd’s and others don’t keep happening and how do we address systemic racism?

To believe that racism can be legislated away is frivolous thinking. The sensitivity training and implicit bias education for law enforcement has been a great start. We must insist that law enforcement leaders have the tools to retrain the take corrective measures to improve officers conduct when needed. The Minnesota Board of Officer Standards and Training should consider a period of academy-style training prior to licensing of new officers. These higher standards with training to achieve them should be our goal. After speaking with trusted peace officers in Carlton County and the surrounding areas, they left me with two guiding thoughts: 1) more training to subdue racial tensions is needed and 2) to keep in mind that while everyone realizes the need for change, do not associate what goes on in Minneapolis with effective law enforcement elsewhere in the state. Hopefully the police reform bill passed this year that provides a ban on chokeholds and neck restraints will prevent recurrence of the actions taken by Minneapolis police in the unspeakable murder of George Floyd. Reasonable people can agree that officers should adopt the same oath as physicians “first do no harm.”

What are two other issues facing the state of Minnesota that you think are important, and how should they be addressed?

It’s my belief that the state of Minnesota places the many burdens on counties via a flawed tax code and other policy mandates. The disabled veteran valuation exclusion gives property tax relief to disabled veterans and their surviving spouses. This is a great policy established in Minnesota code for our deserving veterans and their families. However, the state does not back-fill the lost revenue in the form of “PILF” Payment in Lieu of Taxes. With Carlton County ranking second in the state regarding lost tax dollars per capita, it's time for the state to put its money where its mouth is by supporting this valuable program for all counties in the state.

On a similar note, as the state requires standards for county jails that address safety, efficiency, and offender care, little or no state support for facilities exists. I have included financial support for programming for a female offender program for Carlton County in the bonding bill. Without correctional programming for offenders that require chemical dependency counseling, GED completion and job training, the cycle of repetitive criminal activity will certainly continue. The CIP units in Willow River and Togo need to be replicated and expanded, not downsized or eliminated.

What are two other issues facing the state of Minnesota that you think are important, and how should they be addressed?

Jobs/Economic Recovery: Sadly Democrats — including Mike Sundin — are standing in the way of jobs and growth for our region with projects like Line 3, PolyMet and Twin Metals. We're going to need every one of those jobs as we work to bring back our economy from the damage caused by the pandemic. I will fight to help our small businesses who have been devastated and do what I can to help rebuild our economy.

Taxes: Even when our state had a $1.5 billion surplus, Mike Sundin and Democrats voted to raise billions of dollars in taxes. Now with a major budget deficit, I have no doubt that Democrats plan to raise taxes to help shore up our state budget. We need to look to cut wasteful programs and spending, not raise taxes on our job creators at a time when we need our economy to rebound. I haven't seen a single example over the last two years when Mike Sundin has voted NOT to raise taxes — he votes to raise taxes every chance he gets. I will fight to protect your pocketbook and help you keep more of your hard-earned money.

 
 

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