The second senate district 64B forum for state representative was far more comfortable than the first forum, with fewer people. Jokes indicated that people had had all the candidate contact that they could wish for during the last 3 months. Mostly the audience was filled with supporters of a particular candidate. A few people told me that they were looking for second choices.
The good news is that all the candidates did better. The questions came off as very confusing, so the questions transformed into “speak on this topic area”.
How to sift through the noise? Here is how I do it: Any talk about claiming “progressive” without specific missions is empty talk. Any talk about “How important it is to ….” and “we need …” is also empty. Folksy family stories are also filler. “Working across the isle” are code words for capitulation, unless there is an exact plan presented.
Now, you knew that all the juicy commentary would be after the fold!
Bergstrom supports the minimum wage but she is also for the stronger more progressive standard of a minimum wage indexed for inflation. On daily basis, she is part of the persuasive campaign focusing on legislature to get the index included.
Bergstrom talks about creating living wage jobs. Left on its own, our economy has been a race to the bottom by only creating part-time, service and temporary jobs.
The incidence of domestic violence and susceptibility to sex traffickind comes from root economic causes. Our problems in education also have root economic causes.
Schools should NOT be built like assembly lines. We need to look at the whole child situation, trust teachers and bring testing back to a reasonable balance. She recommends stable school funding that includes wrap-around services.
Sulfide mining vs jobs is a false choice. We can do both – protect our water and create more Iron Range jobs. She suggests that we build clean energy jobs in the Iron Range.
“Everybody in, nobody out” is Bergstrom’s principle of providing health. That includes mental health.
The 2010 Voter Registration was defeated by 8 points when many experienced politicians thought it was doomed. Bergstrom’s contribution to that success was rural persuasion of monetary costs and unintended consequences.
The unusual highlight of Bergstrom’s LGBT was pointing out that in our senior care planning, we have no provision for LGBT.
Politics is “art of the possible”.
Pinto came across as the most comfortable and assured of all the candidates. People laughed at his jokes. He labeled himself as having a collaborative listening style, which he admits is unusual for a prosecutor.
Minimum wage is not just a moral issue, but it is also an economic issue that stimulates the whole economy.
Pinto says that being a prosecutor provides a strong persuasive base for gun control.
Pinto has a long tradition as a prosecutor who is working on sex trafficking issues. He is currently part of the process of setting up training protocols for police officers.
Pinto’s major themes are focussed on children and taking care of one another. He makes passionate cases in those areas.
Our current universal health care consists of emergency room treatment which is the most expensive and less effective point to provide care. Mental health is just part of health.
Pinto successfully took an LGBT case for equal treatment, when he was a private lawyer.
Transportation planning should be based on needs not power.
Pinto was the only candidate to challenge the audience to get more involved and do more.
Fraser told one of the most compelling stories of the evening. She received a note in high school basically saying “We know you are gay and we hate you.” That caused her motivation for politics and championing rights.
Fraser points out her long record of having working to enact new and better laws on:
A) publicly subsidized corporations are required to provide living wage jobs
B) the “safe at home” program for domestic violence
C) access to voting
Teach to children at the individual level of where each child is at. Require 8 hours of paid time off so parents can partner in their children’s education.
Essential to keeping health care costs down is ensuring that elders can continue to live in their homes.
Mental health is a cost saving care so we don’t pay more for jails, homelessness, domestic violence, etc.
Strangely, Fraiser mentioned supporting Metro Sales Tax for transportation funding. I as a climate change advocate see that as another subsidy for fossil-fuel single-car transportation.
McMahon has not yet developed the stage speaking voice, so her answers are drowned out by ambient sounds like the clicking of a camera. The other speakers were easily heard.
McMahon gets credit for responding to the word “obstacles” in one of the more confusing questions. McMahon was the most responsive to the actual questions, except when she left out sex trafficking in one answer.
McMahon describes the gun issues as a marathon that one has to fight with tenacity and incremental wins. McMahon gave a credible case for bringing in hunters into coalitions because they also want to be safe in the woods when other people have guns.
Education to change attitudes is also an important part of improving mental health care.
McMahon was the only candidate to list changing correctional institutions as part of LGBT issues.
McMahon was prepared with actual numbers, like we are 12 billion dollars short for transportation maintenance.
Freeman was the only candidate to tie issues back to the local redevelopment of the Ford Plant area.
Freeman was the only candidate to touch on the changing attitudes part of the gun issues. He talked about the high school plays being presented in Hennepin county.
Freeman pointed out that the underlying cause to problems with domestic violence and sex trafficking is that we have not funded the municipalities that deal with those issues. That received applause.
Zaiger said that one reason that women will not leave a domestic violence situation, is because their pets are held hostage and even threatened. Pet foster care has to be part of the solution.
Minimum wage is part of the solution of the education gap. Outside factors are critical and can be better understood with home visits. One third of the St Paul students are English-language learners which means their parents can provide homework help.
LGBT youth represent 40% of the youth on the street. Providing 10 free counseling sessions to get these youth accepted at home would be the best solution. Providing targeted LGBT foster care would also help.
Commentary About the Pictures
I snapped live shot pictures of candidates persuading people. This is visual reporting of how comfortable the candidates seem to be in talking to delegates. In general, the closer the approach, the more positive. Note the friendly body language of the candidates. Note whether they are talking to supporters or unpersuaded candidates.