My Point of View: Get involved early in the upcoming 2018 election

Published 8:00 pm Monday, July 31, 2017

My Point of View by Robin Brown

Robin Brown is a teacher and member of the Freeborn County DFL Party. She is a former House District 27A representative and lives in Moscow Township.

I know many of us feel it is still too early to spend time thinking about the November 2018 election. We are working to pay the bills, raising our families and focusing our attention on important issues a bit closer to home. Still, my hope is that I can encourage you to get involved early, because now is the time that big decisions are happening and you can be a part of those decisions. 

Robin Brown

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From the Democratic Farmer Labor perspective, I am focusing on three important races: state representative District 27A (currently held by Peggy Bennet), the First Congressional District (currently held by Tim Walz, who is not seeking re-election as he is running for governor), and the office of the governor (currently held by Mark Dayton, who is not running for re-election).

To begin locally, the Freeborn County DFL is looking forward to meeting potential candidates excited about running for the 27A seat. It is important to elect a representative with a positive vision for District 27A, a commitment to become fully informed on local and state issues, and a passion for constituent service.

As a former legislator, I understand the demands of the job and the challenges our current representative faces. Still, I believe my expectations for whoever serves are both realistic and necessary to successfully represent the people of our district.

Unfortunately, in my observations of our current representative during her time in office, I have found her to be lacking in vision, understanding and constituent service. I cannot deny that Miss Bennett was an elementary teacher who, I believe, cared for her students, but that simply has not translated into success as a legislator. 

Specifically, her voting record demonstrates her lack of understanding of policy that makes it possible to recruit and retain the qualified teachers that students need to succeed. Neither does she seem to grasp the connection between fully funding education and a district’s ability (or lack thereof) to support a comprehension public education for all students regardless of zip code.

As a of resident of District 27A, I have personally observed her lack of constituent service. To explain, I personally know a superintendent in a public school who has written our representative on three occasions and has never received a response from her — not even a simple note of acknowledgement. This lack of service is unacceptable for two reasons. First, the superintendent is a constituent. Second, as vice chairwoman of the Education Innovation Policy Committee, our representative should be interested in learning about and encouraging innovations in our public schools.

As many have said before me, “elections have consequences,” and I am looking forward to the opportunity to elect a new representative for District 27A. My hope is for a representative with vision for the future, a commitment to learning public policy and a passion for service.

Another important race for our area is the First Congressional District. Since this will be an open seat, many DFL candidates have already announced or are expected to announce soon. Names to watch (in alphabetical order) include: Johnny Akzam of Rochester, Dan Feehan of North Mankato, Vicki Jensen of Owatonna, Colin Minehart of Albert Lea and John Wayne Austinson of Eyota.

Running for governor on the DFL side include Chris Colemen (mayor of Saint Paul), Tina Liebling (state representative), Erin Murphy (state representative), Rebecca Otto (Minnesota state auditor), Paul Thissen (state representative, former Speaker of the House, former minority leader) and Tim Walz (current Congressman for CD1). Potential candidates include, but are not limited to: Tom Bakk (Senate minority leader) and Lori Swanson (Minnesota attorney general).

Again, I encourage community members to get involved early. Candidates need your support long before the endorsement, the primary or the general election. Campaigns are long and strenuous. There is always the need for people willing to walk in a parade, write a letter, stuff an envelope, knock on a door or make a financial donation (the Political Contribution Refund is back).

To the DFL candidates, remember Ronald Reagan’s 11th Commandment: “Thou shalt not speak ill of any fellow Republican” and apply that to our DFL brothers and sisters. Develop and promote a positive vision for our community, be willing to learn the issues and communicate with your future constituents. Our communities, state and nation will be the better for your passionate and honorable commitment to service.