Go to your precinct caucus

BY ED FELIEN

At 6:30 p.m. tomorrow, Feb. 6, your neighborhood DFLers will gather to elect delegates to the Legislative District 62 Convention on March 10. This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to endorse a candidate to serve our community in the Minnesota Legislature.

Call the DFL for precinct locations: 651-293-1200 or email Senate District 62 DFL: dfl.sd62@gmail.com.
Our Revolution Twin Cities has endorsed Hodan Hassan for 62A: “Hodan is a mental health practicioner and educator who seeks to work to resolve the root causes of our societal problems rather than treat symptoms,” and Aisha Gomez for 62B: “A longtime progressive who has been active in her community and will be a powerful voice at the Capitol.”

We contacted all the candidates we could find and asked them:
“If you are elected state representative would you author and support legislation: 1) Decriminalizing the recreational use of marijuana? 2) Establishing free tuition at all Minnesota community colleges and technical schools? 3) Establishing free medical care for all citizens of Minnesota?

62A:
Michael Douglas: “I’m for legalization! I would introduce bipartisan legislation that would push forward the people’s will, which tends to lean more toward legalization of marijuana.

“My understanding is that there is bipartisan support when it comes to establishing free tuition at all Minnesota community colleges and technical schools. I would seek bipartisan support on writing a bill that would revise guidelines now in place.

“To narrow my opinion of free health care to just the State of MN would be undermining the universal call for free medical care for all citizens as advocated by the World Health Organization, as well as the majority of the citizens of our country. My approach again would be that of working across parties to be the state to advocate loudest for universal care.”

Hodan Hassan: “I believe we need to decriminalize the use of marijuana. Socio-economically, poor people and people of color are most impacted by these laws. Through a public health lens, the issues dramatically affecting health in communities in Minneapolis are opioid dependency and alcoholism. These require more of our energy and advocacy.

“Education is important to lifting low-income children out of poverty. I will advocate for free education for students at our community and technical colleges. Students need more exposure to technical skills training and college readiness tools in high school, so that these transitions to higher education are supported more holistically.

“Health care is a basic human right. My professional background in public health gives me a unique understanding of this, but all Minnesotans understand the need for accessible health services. I will fight for a universal healthcare model in Minnesota that provides for all residents, despite their economic background.”

Jen Kader: “Yes, I am in favor of decriminalizing the recreational use of marijuana, and I firmly believe that any legislation along these lines must also include discussion of retroactive application of the law to people currently serving time for related offenses.

“District 62A is ranked among the lowest in Minnesota for educational attainment. We need to address the factors that play into educational attainment disparities at all levels, from pre-k up to and including providing at least two years of free community college and technical school tuition for all Minnesotans.

“No person should have to choose between paying rent and paying medical bills. Access to affordable health care is a human right, and I will support and fight for any sound legislation that could reduce or eliminate the burden of healthcare costs on Minnesota’s families.”

Osman Ahmed: “Too many people are incarcerated as a result of the status quo, especially communities of color. It’s time to decriminalize the recreational use of cannabis. In states like Colorado, recreational cannabis is generating hundreds of millions of dollars in tax revenue for schools and education. Minnesota should do the same.

“Education provides a pathway to a better life, but the cost is too high. We can grow the middle class by establishing free tuition at community colleges and technical schools. I did not receive a formal education until age 16, so this issue is very personal to me.

“Health care is a human rights issue. Everyone should have the ability to see a doctor and receive the care they need to live a healthy life. I support establishing free medical care for every Minnesotan. No one should go bankrupt because they get sick.”

Farhio Khalif: “I support full legalization and provisions that prevent consolidation of the industry by a few firms (such as an emphasis on small farmers and grow-your-own-at-home policies). It is also worth exploring the Colorado model for stores and sales. Amidst the opioid crisis, which has tragically taken so many lives in our district, legalization of marijuana is of great significance.

“Establishing free tuition at all Minnesota community colleges and technical schools?

Yes. We would look to proposals by Senator Bernie Sanders and Representative Keith Ellison as a model.

“Yes, as health care is a human right. The Medicare-for-All Plan proposed by U.S. Representative Keith Ellison, State Senator John Marty and several other elected officials, in addition to Canada’s system, will serve as a model for my goals regarding health care.”

Margarita Ortega:

“I am very supportive of these topics and willing to continue to have these conversation within the community. As a representative I will commit to dedicating monthly community meetings to help residents organize these efforts with the opportunity to help draft these policies through the state legislation process. Let’s bring the community to the House in a way that will give the people the power to create the change needed.”

62B:
Benedict Schweigert: “I support decriminalizing marijuana. We have seen legalization efforts succeed in many states and there is no reason that Minnesota cannot join the growing consensus around marijuana legalization.

“Our excellent community colleges and technical schools already do so much to better the lives of students and their families. These programs should be better funded and they should be affordable to all Minnesotans, regardless of income. That should include a guarantee of tuition-free education for those who cannot pay.

“I will explore a state-based single payer model and pursue it if possible. And I will work with policy makers to address the growing prices of prescription medication and to push down healthcare costs so that Minnesota can reach full healthcare coverage for our citizens.”
Korina Barry: “I am in support of decriminalizing the recreational use of marijuana, and will advocate for communities of color disproportionately impacted by marijuana laws.

“I will advocate for free tuition and equitable access to community colleges and technical schools.

“I am in support of free medical care for all Minnesota residents.”

Aisha Gomez: “Yes, I support decriminalizing the recreational use of marijuana. My father spent time in jail when I was young on a marijuana charge so I know firsthand the impact that the criminalization of cannabis has on families. Too many, especially Indigenous, black, brown and poor young men, have become fodder for the system of mass incarceration because of misguided marijuana laws.

“Yes, for establishing free tuition at all Minnesota community colleges and technical schools. College is out of reach to many in our community. Offering free tuition, and focusing on technical education that is responsive to economic trends, is one way to even the playing field for working people and to provide access to jobs with family-sustaining wages.

“Yes, for establishing free medical care for all citizens of Minnesota. I believe that we must decide as a society that health care is a human right and a public good, not a way for corporations and their executives and shareholders to get rich. We spend more money for worse care than anywhere in the world. Single-payer health care is a moral and economic imperative.”

Rebecca Gagnon: “I would partner with fellow legislators to decriminalize the recreational use of marijuana along with other legislation aimed at decriminalizing poverty and removing the racial disparities in our criminal justice system.

“I would work on a collaborative effort, with cities, the business community, local public school districts, and the state to establish pathways not only for free tuition to our local community and technical colleges but also pathways for skilled trades careers.

“I support universal health care. Quality, affordable health care is a right, not a privilege. Employer-based health care pits profits against Minnesotans’ health and well-being. I support tremendous systems change to deconstruct our reliance upon for-profit insurance companies and establish a single-payer program to provide free medical care.”

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