Bennett to seek re-election to 27A seat

Published 9:14 pm Tuesday, November 14, 2017

District 27A Rep. Peggy Bennett is seeking re-election to her third term in the House of Representatives next year.

“I definitely plan on doing that, and I am excited about it,” she said.

Bennett, 59, will square off against Hayward resident and long-time DFLer Thomas Martinez next November.

Peggy Bennett

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Bennett cited past legislation she helped pass relating to increasing nursing home funding, transportation and tax relief as work she wants to continue.

Bennett said she is looking forward to possibly helping pass legislation to lower health care costs and increase access to health care services.

She said she supports Albert Lea taking back a full-service, acute-care hospital, shortly after Mayo Clinic Health System in Albert Lea began transitioning most inpatient services to Austin.

“I think that’s important,” Bennett said.

To help increase health care access, Bennett plans to look into passing legislation to make it easier for health care organizations to enter communities, such as addressing the limiting of hospital beds in communities.

She said though Mayo Clinic Health System is a quality hospital system, the area has high premium prices because the hospital is the overwhelming provider of local health care services.

“It’s a good, quality health care institute, but they need some competition,” said Bennett, noting her belief the Affordable Care Act has “exacerbated” issues surrounding health care and created issues that need to be fixed.

She plans to meet with District 26 Sen. Carla Nelson, R-Rochester, Friday to discuss potential legislation, and Bennett is meeting with her constituents.

“The best ideas come from right here at home,” she said. 

Bennett called health care “complex,” but said the issues that surround it must still be addressed.

Bennett does not support stripping funding for the Destination Medical Center project, but would explore tweaking the legislation to ensure it makes a difference for other communities in the Rochester area, such as Albert Lea and Fairmont.

Bennett won her second term last year, defeating Gary Schindler with 61.71 percent of votes.

Bennett is a native of the Twin Cities suburbs who moved to Albert Lea in 1981 for her first teaching job.

“I love it here,” she said. 

Bennett said she is pleased Martinez is running for office because it is good that people are willing to participate in the political process.

“I look forward to meeting him and debating the issues with him,” she said.

Bennett said she has learned a lot in her position since first being elected in 2014 and had never been forced to learn so much information in such a short period of time prior to her first election.

“They say it’s like drinking out of a fire hose, and it really is,” she said.

Bennett called it an “honor” to serve people in her position and said she enjoys representing local communities and listening to people.

She admitted feeling frustration about a government she said is becoming more out of touch with its constituents.

“I want to make government more responsive to people,” she said. “When I talk to people, they are frustrated and overwhelmed.”

Government is over-regulating, which is hurting communities, Bennett said.

“Government’s so busy running itself that it’s forgotten that it’s here to serve the people, and I would like to start turning that ship back to the people,” she said.

About Sam Wilmes

Sam Wilmes covers crime, courts and government for the Albert Lea Tribune.

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