Attorney general candidate: ‘I’m the workhorse’

Published 8:55 pm Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Candidate for Minnesota attorney general Debra Hilstrom hopes to parlay her experience as a prosecutor and a legislator into the position.

Deb Hilstrom

Hilstrom, DFL-Brooklyn Center, has served in the Minnesota House of Representatives for 18 years, working on consumer protection and public safety issues. She has also been a prosecutor in the Anoka County Attorney’s Office.

“I have a unique set of experiences that will be a strong asset to be Minnesota’s advocate, Minnesota’s lawyer,” Hilstrom said Wednesday in a visit to the Tribune.

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She noted as a legislator she talked to Save Our Hospital members and got them in touch with nonpartisan research outlets about possible changes in a law that could address situations such as Mayo Clinic’s decision to transition most inpatient services from Albert Lea to Austin.

She said she crafted a law that protected senior citizens from being defrauded by coin fraud.

Hilstrom is vying for the DFL nomination for attorney general against Keith Ellison, Tom Foley, Matt Pelikan and Mike Rothman. GOP candidates are Sharon Anderson, Robert Lessard and Doug Wardlow.

Hilstrom said she is different than other DFL candidates because she is a woman, has legal and legislative experience and is the only candidate who has argued a legal case in front of the Minnesota Supreme Court.

“I’m the workhorse,” she said.

A Brooklyn Center native, Hilstrom noted the attorney general takes on organizations and people who have “seriously and persistently,” broken the law. She discussed the $850 million settlement the state entered into with 3M for groundwater projects after the company was sued over polluted groundwater. 

“I would be a hands-on attorney general that would make certain that one, we are holding people accountable, and two, that the work that needs to get done after you successfully get a recovery is actually being used for the purpose that it was intended,” she said.

Hilstrom said she opposes the Federal Communications Commission’s recent decision to end net neutrality rules passed under the administration of former President Barack Obama.

“They made the wrong decision, and I think Minnesotans can have some protection under Minnesota law,” she said. “And I think we need to have advocates who are prepared to say, even if Congress doesn’t act, Minnesota is going to.”

She spoke against the Trump administration’s zero-tolerance policy on illegal immigrants that led to the separation of families at the Mexico border. Hilstrom said she plans to continue the lawsuit the state of Minnesota has against the administration over the policy.

“All Minnesotans value families, no matter what they are, and we need to make sure that we keep families together whenever we can,” Hilstrom said. “I think that is kind of a universal belief that families do better when families are together.”

Hilstrom noted the state was one of the first two to sue the Trump administration over its initial travel ban unveiled in the early days of his presidency, adding doctors in Minnesota with ties overseas were affected. That policy was later stopped before a revamped ban including seven countries was upheld earlier this week by the U.S. Supreme Court.

“That is one of the consequences of it, is that some of those programs — we had students that were here studying for medicine and providing medical care in Greater Minnesota and the metro area — and they were not able to get back,” she said.

“I think it’s a travesty, the decision that came down.”

She also spoke against the Supreme Court’s striking down a requirement that non-union workers pay fees that go to collective bargaining, but expressed confidence many public employees will still choose to pay union dues.

Hilstrom, 50, and her husband, Joel, have two children, Jeremy and Stephanie.

About Sam Wilmes

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

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