You can’t walk into a classroom without hope that things can be better. You have to hope that, by your hard work and your vision, every person in that classroom can be better tomorrow than they were today. I think that we need more hard work and more vision in politics.
  • Reform our Justice System

    My grandfather served as a medic in the Pacific. When he got home after 20 years of service in the military, he became a police officer. He worked in public schools, kind of like the school resource officers we have today. I’ve got newspaper clippings from the 50s about how his work was valued in his community. They appreciated his work with kids, and they liked that he built relationships within the community. Still, if we are honest with ourselves, we have to acknowledge that even in that context, not everyone appreciated his profession, and with good reason. The past was never as peaceful as we like to think it was, and in America’s complicated history police have at times escalated and even caused violence and unrest in our communities. Every election cycle you hear politicians crow about “law and order.” It’s a nice slogan, but it’s really just that. Since the death of George Floyd “law and order” has been used by some to justify the unlawful act of his murder and to critique the lawful behavior of peaceful protesters. That doesn’t make much sense to me. If we really cared about law and order, if we really supported police officers like my grandfather, we would commit to immediate and profound changes in our criminal justice system. Fundamentally, we need to respect the community’s responsibility for its own safety. We need increased transparency and open communication between law enforcement and community members. We need citizen participation in officer discipline. We need to support the mental health of police officers. And we need to train police officers in de-escalation and how to use force only as a last resort in their interactions with their fellow citizens. Only by putting the community back in public safety, only through acknowledging our shared responsibility, can we make the long overdue changes that we need.
  • Reform our Politics

    We often complain about the role of money in our politics. Out on the campaign trail, 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.
  • Promote Economic Growth

    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. Recent business closings like those at Electrolux, Sears, and Herbergers have directly affected many of us: maybe we lost a job, maybe a friend lost a job, or maybe we have lost business because others are suffering. But this isn’t a trend in isolation: as we have faced these challenges, the poverty rate in the St. Cloud area has doubled, and 26% of our community now lives below the poverty line despite St. Cloud’s low unemployment rate. We need a new economy, one that is forward-looking and prepares for the future rather than simply reacts to change. We need to develop a business climate that builds on our strengths. We need jobs that supply a paycheck, but we also need jobs that allow people to improve their standard of living, jobs that create hope for promotion and social mobility. Quality of life is as important as quantity of profit. We can’t have one without the other. To accomplish this, we must build and maintain good roads, bridges, and transit to help grow jobs and a sense of community, incentivize entrepreneurship, and provide broadband to all of us. We need jobs that grow the middle class and allow our children to find opportunity here.
  • Address our Healthcare Crisis

    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 strengthening and expanding the public option right here in Minnesota. We deserve better and more affordable healthcare. That includes passing commonsense legislation, like the Alec Smith Emergency Insulin Act, which would have ensured Minnesotans who struggle to afford insulin can still get it. Our current Senator voted against this bill; I know we can do better.
  • Invest in Education

    As a teacher, I know we have some of the best local schools and the most dedicated educators in the state. But our schools succeed even though our government has consistently failed them, treating teachers like enemies and schools like factories. 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.
  • Make Housing More Affordable

    I’ve lived here for almost 25 years, but I didn’t grow up in central Minnesota. I don’t say I settled here: I say I chose to make a home here. I’ve been lucky, but for many of our neighbors, making a home is harder than it was for me. Sixty percent of the people in St. Cloud live in “economic distress.” That means that over thirty percent of their income goes to housing. “Distress” is the right word because all it takes is one stretch of bad luck—a health crisis, a lost job—and almost two thirds of our neighbors could experience homelessness. Worse still, on any given day three to five percent of our school district’s children experience homelessness. That means that some days, five hundred children in our community are looking for shelter instead of doing homework, just trying to get through today instead of building for tomorrow. The answer to our affordable housing crisis is complex. We need more options for affordable housing, but the problem goes deeper than the housing supply. We need to reform how we fund and oversee both our housing options and how we help those experiencing homelessness. Right now, a patchwork of dedicated volunteers is stretched thin supplying a temporary remedy to a problem that is continuous and growing in harm. These efforts need more resources, but they would also benefit from greater coordination and accountability.
  • Hold Government Accountable

    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. It’s not the job of government to solve all our problems — but a healthy democracy can foster vigorous dialogue and discussion. 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 regular town hall meetings and write 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. We deserve a Senator who works hard to listen to and be heard by all of us.