My Point of View: Voters, study the candidates 

Published 8:45 pm Tuesday, October 18, 2022

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My Point of View by Joe Pacovsky

We elect our representatives for Senate District 23 and House districts 23A and 23B to improve our area and the lives of the people living here. You expect your elected officials to look out for your interests in  St. Paul. This has not happened with our current representatives. They should work to improve all our  lives and not advance their narrow-minded personal agendas.

Joe Pacovsky

The Minnesota House of Representatives passed an education bill, which provided substantial supplemental funding for our local public-school districts — $3.4 million for Albert Lea Area Schools and $4.5 million for Austin Public Schools. Albert Lea’s current representative, Peggy Bennett, and Austin’s  current representative, Patricia Mueller, both voted “no” for this money.  

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The Republican-controlled Senate, including Gene Dornink, did not vote on the aid for our local public school districts. Instead, they went home, and the education bill died. They have refused any framework  to come back to the table for a special session. 

When the state doesn’t keep up with funding for necessary services, local taxpayers will be asked to  make up the difference through higher property taxes. The Austin School District is now trying to pass an  operating referendum that would provide $2.5 million to help maintain the educational standards at the  Austin School District. 

Other school districts in District 23 are facing the same unnecessary challenges. Remember, the state of  Minnesota has surplus funds the schools in our district need, yet the Republican majority in the state  senate turned its back on our students and went home. 

During the KSMQ House of Representatives 23A debate, Democrat Mary Hinnenkamp expressed  unequivocal support for state funding of public school districts. Republican Peggy Bennett, who voted  “no” on the education bill, said that education needs to “innovate and diversify” to provide education to  students. These are code words for siphoning state and local taxpayer money to private schools.  Allowing this would only shift the burden to property taxes to maintain the educational standards for  our public-school students. 

Democratic Senate candidate for District 23 Brandon Lawhead, whose children attend public schools, supports supplemental state funding for public schools from the budget surplus. Republican Gene  Dornick, who didn’t believe in Hayfield’s public schools to educate his 12 children and homeschooled  them instead, did not vote on the education bill but went home. 

The Republican Party has in recent years embraced members of white supremacist groups and radical sects that believe in replacing democracy with Biblical patriarchy. These people are attracted to the  Republican Party because of its war on women’s reproductive rights and its degradation of democratic principles, including baseless claims of voting fraud in the 2020 election. 

The Twin Cities and their suburbs will get their share of the state’s resources. We cannot have our elected representatives wasting our limited political capital on “no” votes and personal agendas. We need representatives that will get our district its fair share of state aid to grow our district. 

Elect Brandon Lawhead to the state Senate and Mary Hinnenkamp and Tom Stiehm to the Minnesota  House of Representatives. These candidates will listen to their constituents and act on their concerns. 

Joe Pacovksy is a member of the Freeborn County DFL Party.