2020 has challenged us with countless issues, but in the turmoil, there is hope. From supporting our frontline workers, to raising our voices about injustice, we have seen Minnesotans come together. After all we’ve been through, we know that going back to “normal” isn’t good enough. We must be better and leave no one behind as we rebuild our economy.
Below are the issues people ask me about most, but by no means does this reflect the multitude of concerns our community cares about. Our issues are as diverse as our neighborhoods. This campaign is about you. Take a look below – and more updates will be added – but if you can’t find the issue you care most about, please feel free to contact me.
Put First Things First
We can do better. It is time to focus on the real priorities of Minnesota. As a Woodbury resident with deep family ties to our east metro communities, I am grateful to get to know people in our area. I’ve been listening as I’ve called and met with folks across Woodbury, Landfall, Maplewood and Oakdale. What I’ve heard is loud and clear: Focus on building a bright future for all.
In my work in our community and at the legislature, I’ve brought people together create positive partnerships to solve the complex problems facing Minnesotans. I’ve made this collaborative approach central to my work as your state senator.
I am ready to fight for our core values. I can help restore Minnesota’s focus on its people, their education and good jobs. We must work together toward a bright future.
Our current health and economic challenges require smart leadership. As we continue to respond to the challenges presented by COVID-19, we need to listen to the experts, follow science and do everything we can to protect our community. Effectively managing this virus is the best way to help our schools and businesses so our economy can come back faster and stronger.
I cherish the health and safety of each of you and your loved ones. I am proud to have worked across the aisle in the Senate to secure critical support for hospitals, first responders, front line workers and our communities during this pandemic. I will continue to put people first, and ensure Minnesotans remain safe and healthy and get the care they deserve during COVID-19.
Access to affordable health care
Affordable, accessible health care is fundamental to the well-being of our communities. An accident or unexpected illness shouldn’t put any family’s financial security at risk. And no one should be denied insurance coverage because they have a pre-existing condition or change jobs.
In the Senate, I’ve championed expanding coverage for and access to preventive and mental health care, reducing the cost of prescription drugs, and increasing telemedicine options that make it easier to get care.
I will continue to fight for access to quality health care and affordable insurance coverage. They are vital to the health and prosperity of our families and communities.
Equity for all
We need to make sure Minnesota can fully offer a bright, fair and just future for all. Some have said we need to return to normal. But it’s clear that “normal” hasn’t worked for far too many Minnesotans. We have many health, economic and social challenges before us. In them, I see opportunity to do better.
Fair treatment and equal access to opportunity are bedrocks of a just society. In the Senate, I have been proud to support marriage equality and fight for equal rights and status regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity or expression. I sponsored the All Kids Count Act to shrink the opportunity gap by identifying disparities for students from underserved and underrepresented communities. And I have worked with local and community leaders to eliminate barriers that prevent equality, such as the lack of affordable housing and transportation in our communities.
Dr. Martin Luther King told us that the “the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” We each have a role to play in that journey, with many miles left to travel. I believe the pandemic, resulting economic crisis and George Floyd’s murder have shined a very bright light on our racial disparities – giving us an historic opportunity to make meaningful and transformative changes in many of the institutions of our society.
We need a public safety system that protects all of us, no exceptions. In the weeks after George Floyd was killed, I was honored to be part of making an important first step in police reform and accountability, following the great leadership of our People of Color and Indigenous Caucus. But we know there so much more to be done. I am committed to doing my part.
A Strong Economy
As COVID-19 has challenged our lives and our livelihoods, we face a tremendous choice. When the legislature gets to work in January 2021, we can continue with divisiveness and obstruction, or we can focus on our people and their future. I believe in the latter. We must marshal our resources and rebuild a strong economy that provides good jobs and a strong middle class. We are building a powerful coalition across race, place, and faith to ensure all Minnesotans have the care they need, good jobs, a world-class education, safe and healthy communities, and a fair justice system.
I will continue to promote economic development through smart investments, sound infrastructure, and clean energy. As a former small business owner myself, I well understand the need for policies to help small businesses start up and grow, creating living wage jobs for area families. I will work to keep these businesses strong and successful. And here in Minnesota.
By supporting our businesses in this historic time, we can put more Minnesotans back to work. There are many examples of private-public partnerships that maximize economic development. I want to look at all venues for job growth – investments in infrastructure, small business-friendly tax reform, and a highly skilled workforce – that will lead to more jobs and greater financial security for the middle class, our real job creators.
And education is an important part of our economic puzzle and our long-term strength, as it has been in Minnesota for generations. We need to prepare our children for the future. But our opportunity gap for students of color is unacceptable. Our student support services from school counselors, psychologists, social workers, and nurses ranks at the bottom nationally. We must do better because an educated and skilled workforce is key to a strong economy, good jobs, and a vital middle class.
A strong education system is a cornerstone for our children, our communities, and our economy. Every child of Minnesota deserves the access to the American dream that are available through a strong education. All parents want their children to have good schools and a good education. Beyond that, good schools are a strategic advantage in our economy. Companies want to be here because their employees want to raise their children here. Further and into the future, companies want to be here because we have a highly educated and skilled workforce.
The pandemic, the resulting distance learning, and the crucial discussions about disparities reveal that our schools are failing far too many students. I believe strongly that we must act now and reimagine our commitment to this crucial part of our state’s overall strength.
I know that state underfunding our schools over decades has put students and families at a disadvantage. I know that disparities continue to be unacceptable. Every student should have the opportunity to receive a quality education and be prepared for the jobs of the 21st century.
We must recommit to a strong education system. We must fund our schools, improve education, and reduce class sizes to allow teachers to do what they do best… teach.
We must make higher education more accessible. I support stable funding for higher education because an affordable college education is a good investment for an educated workforce.
Environment and climate change
Clean water and air should be available for everyone, everywhere. We must increase clean energy and combat the effects of climate change. I am fighting for strong environmental policies that make Minnesota a healthier state to live in.
I’m proud to be a part of the Senate DFL’s Clean Energy and Climate Caucus. Investing in clean energy and green infrastructure helps us be good stewards of our planet, as well as create good paying jobs. I’ve spearheaded legislation that increased electric vehicle sharing stations, expanded recycling and energy facilities in Washington and Ramsey Counties, and funded our state’s environmental and natural resources agencies.
As we work hard to protect our environment, we also want to create green spaces and programs that let us appreciate it. I’ve secured funding for local park and trail improvements, programs that connect our youth to the outdoors, and initiatives that restore and protect important habitats across our beautiful state.
It’s also important to keep our families and our environment safe from harmful chemicals. Climate pollution creates inequities in our communities of color and under-resourced populations. We all deserve clean water and air. I have advocated requiring companies to notify residents and consumers of environmental hazards, removed harmful carcinogens and toxins from our food packaging and furniture, and forced industrial facilitates to comply with clean water standards.
When the State of Minnesota settled its lawsuit against 3M Company for contaminating our drinking water with chemicals, I ensured the funds would be provided to our communities to safeguard access to clean, safe drinking water. The settlements funds will exclusively fund drinking water and natural resource projects in our East Metro communities affected by the contamination.
During my time serving on the Senate’s Transportation Finance and Policy committee, I have advocated for our state’s transportation needs. We need a comprehensive and sustainable plan to fund improvements in our roads and bridges, as well as invest in transit options. By connecting jobs, housing, retail, healthcare and education with people, these fuel our state’s economic development and individuals’ economic mobility.
I’m proud to have secured funding for transportation improvements in the East Metro. I led the push for the Gold Line Bus Rapid Transit project, which will connect our East Metro communities to jobs, housing and other key destinations along I-94. I continue to advocate for a new 4th Street bridge over 694 in Oakdale, as well as a long-term solution for the I-94/I-694/I-494 interchange. I successfully fought to fund replacing the Kellogg Street bridge, a critical part of East Metro travel. And we recently passed a public works-focused bonding bill during our most recent special session, investing in roads and bridges, parks and trails and water treatment plants. These projects will help keep our communities connected, fund important improvement projects and get people back to work.
In more than 20 years in marketing, I’ve had the opportunity to work with a tremendous range of organizations, from the largest of corporations to small, local businesses, and a number of arts and non-profit organizations, as well. In this time, I’ve had a seat at the conference table in many industries, including retail, consumer goods, business-to-business, healthcare, banking, electronics, travel and tourism, and more. I’ve gained a deep understanding of the private sector, and I bring this perspective to help create good jobs for Minnesota families.
Because ultimately, to rebuild our economy as we emerge from a pandemic, we must put more people back to work in good jobs.
In this crucial moment, I will promote incentives for main street businesses to rebuild, thrive, and hire more employees. I will work to rebuild our economy in a way that is consistent with Minnesota values – an economy that rewards hard work and levels the playing field so that every Minnesotan has access to the American dream.
State Finance: Stable and Fair
We have faced recurring budget challenges in recent years as a result of a variety of factors – economic cycles, demographic trends, and policy decisions. Since I’ve been in the Minnesota Senate, we’ve repaid budget shifts and gimmicks, and we’ve implemented a budget reserve – a “rainy day fund” – that has been proven invaluable as we navigate the economic fallout of COVID-19. These challenges and some policy responses have left our tax system disproportionately reliant on regressive taxation, namely property and sales taxes. As a result, middle income families are paying a disproportionately high share. Approaching a new budget during a pandemic and significant economic downturn, I know that Minnesota needs common-sense, stable, and balanced solutions to put us on the path back to a strong economic future.
We need to restore fairness to our property tax structure. Unfortunately, Republican leadership in the Senate obstructs critical funding of schools and infrastructure, thereby pushing the burden onto local property taxes. This short-sighted policy increases property taxes on middle class Minnesotans and local businesses. The state budget should not be balanced on the backs of our families.
As a former small business owner, I support initiatives that re-balance property tax increases and restore fairness to our property tax structure. This will help businesses hire more employees and grow our economy. We must rebuild our middle class and put more people back to work to grow our economy.
Working Together for a Better Tomorrow
As I’ve been speaking with people in our community, listening to parents, grandparents, business owners, and students, the advice they give has been crystal clear: work together, find solutions.
It’s the right advice, but politicians too often ignore it. We’ve seen what happened when elected officials refused to compromise and dug in their heels. During a pandemic and the resulting economic crisis, the bonding bill – the state’s best tool for economic stimulus, jobs, and local projects – was used as a political weapon, putting people and their families in harm’s way. Rather than supporting smart measures to control the coronavirus and keep our schools and local businesses open, Republicans played politics with science and data and fought critical efforts to keep our communities healthy and safe. When Nancy Leppink, the Commissioner of Labor and Industry, was denied Senate confirmation after fighting for worker protections and safe workplaces during a pandemic, it was clear that it was a petty, political vendetta. Nobody won, and instead of addressing the state’s challenges, Senate Republicans have focused on partisan games. And there was never an effort at working together to address the challenges faced by people in our communities.
The people I’ve met do not want government to be the answer to every problem in the world, but they do expect results to go along with the talk they hear each election year. I’m running for re-election because our community and our state deserve better. I’ll continue to put our people ahead of extreme politics, and work together with anyone from any party toward reasonable, common-sense solutions.
From my private sector career to my time in the Minnesota Senate, I know that working together to solve difficult problems and achieve results is crucial. In more than 20 years in the private sector, collaboration is an expectation and gridlock is not tolerated. It should come as no surprise that bringing people together to build consensus around a shared vision was the key to success.
I know that bi-partisanship at the legislature is not easy, but surely there is always a path to common ground and hard-earned compromise. My commitment will always be to my constituents and I will always lead with those ready to set political ideologies aside and get to work on leaving a better community and state for our kids.
Working together, we can get back to a Minnesota that works. Join me in finding solutions for challenges we face.
Ready for a better tomorrow?
Join us! We can’t do it without you. Chip in $10, $25, $50, or whatever you can to help ensure we build a Minnesota that works for everyone.