Tag Archives: election

Minnesota Runs 2018: Women & Minorities Running for Office in Minnesota

Two years ago we heard nothing but complaints about our choices for who to vote for in the 2016 presidential election.

We hear complaints that there aren’t enough minority or female voices in the process.

People are frustrated that their views aren’t represented.

I’m a big believer in ‘stop complaining and start doing.’

We’re heading into the 2018 midterm elections, with all of the U.S. House, a third of the U.S. Senate, and control of state legislatures and governors’ offices around the country, as well as all kinds of local races on the line.

If you want to see candidates you support, now is the time to get involved. Here in Minnesota, caucusing begins Feb. 6. This is a byzantine process for parties to endorse their preferred candidate. It’s not the only path to office, but it’s a big one. So it’s time to start paying attention. Continue reading Minnesota Runs 2018: Women & Minorities Running for Office in Minnesota

Meeting Congressional Candidates: Jeff Erdmann

Tonight I went to another political meet and greet. Second one this week. And I took my daughter. Again.

I’m not sure what’s going on.

That’s not true. I’m angry. That’s what’s going on. This story broke about Minnesota House candidate Lindsey Port being blackballed  by DFL donors for speaking out against sexual misconduct.

So I’m feeling this push to be involved, to speak out, to let my voice be heard. I’m not just going to sit at home and complain.

Tonight Lexi and I walked to the coffee shop to hear from Minnesota 2nd Congressional District candidate Jeff Erdmann (“It’s spelled like ‘Nerdman,’ but take the ‘n’ off the front and put it on the back.”). He’s challenging 2016 DFL candidate Angie Craig for the DFL endorsement to face incumbent Jason Lewis in November.

I liked hearing Jeff’s story. He teaches American government to ninth graders at Rosemount High School. He teaches varsity football. He’s on reduced time at school in order to campaign (as reduced as he can and still keep health insurance) and his wife took a part-time job.  Continue reading Meeting Congressional Candidates: Jeff Erdmann

Senate District 52 DFL Gubernatorial Meet & Greet

I went to an event to meet DFL candidates for governor tonight. There are six candidates lined up so far: Chris Coleman, Tina Liebling, Erin Murphy, Rebecca Otto, Paul Thissen, and Tim Walz (Walz actually couldn’t make it, since he had to return to Washington for a vote).

The place was packed with a couple hundred people, all energized and fired up. It was a good chance to actually talk to the candidates and ask the questions you wanted to.

I’ve never been very involved in politics, but after the 2016 campaign when so many people complained about the lack of quality candidates, I think it’s important to get involved and be a voice in the process.

So Who’s the Best Candidate?

The challenge right now is there’s not a lot of difference between the candidates. They all have pretty similar positions. I liked Rebecca Otto going into this event, and I still like her. I also liked the energy of Erin Murphy and Chris Coleman.

I think Otto has some real practical plans—not just pie-in-the-sky ideas. As state auditor, she’s all about the numbers. She’s very practical, and I think that has pretty broad appeal. She’s also won state office before, by wider margins than both previous governors.

But I think I could get behind a lot of these candidates.

One thing I keep coming back to is I think it’s time for a woman to be governor of Minnesota. That’s not a deciding issue for sure, but when I see candidates that are pretty close on a lot of the issues, that becomes more important.

What it really comes down to is strong ideas to improve Minnesota. That’s pretty exciting.

The Next Generation

I also brought Lexi along with me tonight. We’ve talked a little about the gubernatorial contest and a lot about politics in general. Lexi doesn’t understand why there aren’t more women in these roles, so she’s excited to see more women running.

It was fun to bring her along and talk to some candidates and talk about some issues. Liebling talked about being inspired by Paul Wellstone, and mentioned talking to college students who didn’t know who Wellstone was. She said there probably wasn’t anyone here tonight who didn’t know Wellstone, though Lexi didn’t know.

So we got to talk about Paul Wellstone.

As a bonus, Lexi also won a door prize of a print with Wellstone’s famous phrase, “We all do better when we all do better.”

"We all do better when we all do better." -Paul Wellstone

We also talked about how politics actually does matter and changes things that impact our lives. The DFL passed gay marriage in Minnesota, making it possible for our LGBT friends to get married here. When Lexi started kindergarten she went half-day because we would have had to pay $3,000 to send her. When Milo started kindergarten he could go all day thanks to the all-day kindergarten the DFL passed.

We also talked about how ideas like help with college tuition will really impact Lexi’s future.

These kinds of things matter.

So it’s exciting to go to stuff like this and get involved and push for better things for our state and country. And bringing your kid along? Even better.

(Big thanks to everyone who worked to make tonight’s event happen.)

A Better Way to Internet Politics

I often wonder if there’s a more productive way for politics to move forward. It’s especially bleak right now after the election of Donald Trump, an election that was very short on actual policy positions and very high on the spread of fake news.

Everybody has a take on the 2016 election, and I’m sure we’ll be reading about it forever, but one story I read compared Trump to Italy’s Silvio Berlusconi and suggested the way to beat Trump is to ignore his antics and focus on policy.

I wonder if that would work. That seemed like one of the most telling moments of the presidential debates (and I commented on it my election post), though I don’t know if that moment changed anyone’s mind (it was easily overshadowed by other moments).

Maybe it’s idealistic and wouldn’t actually work, but I think a better, saner grasp of the facts and issues would go a long way to helping democracy, for all sides.

So what might that look like? Continue reading A Better Way to Internet Politics

Local Politics & How Candidates Communicate

Oh this election. I don’t know what to do with you.

I usually try not to blog about politics. I did too much of that in previous cycles and said stupid things and annoyed even myself.

Early on this year, I couldn’t hold back and had to try to understand the Trump phenomena as it was happening. Even now I don’t understand it (though the Anxiety, Nostalgia & Mistrust Survey explains a lot), but I’m trying not to engage in the endless what ifs and blame and the rest (though I am being very vocal about stopping hate and violence).

I think instead of engaging on the national scene, I’ve been talking up the local scene. It’s bothered me for a long time how difficult it is to research local elections. Technology was supposed to make that easier, and in some ways it has. Most serious candidates have websites or at least Facebook pages these days (but not all of them).

But in other ways technology just allows politicians to spread the same misleading information they always have. And voters are stuck with just as little information to sort it all out.

This election I tried to sort out who said what, who did something questionable and who blatantly made stuff up assuming people wouldn’t research it. My only hope is that I’m making it easier for other frustrated voters like myself.

You know what? People liked it. Continue reading Local Politics & How Candidates Communicate

Voting as a Heroic Act

So Joss Whedon, the creator of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and director of the Avengers movies, created his own PAC to encouraging voting this year.

I love this comment about the ethos of what he’s doing:

“There is this heroic act called voting. And the world is scary, and things are overwhelming, and there’s a lot at stake. But this voting thing is actually beautiful. Not just necessary—it’s a wonderful thing and it makes you powerful.” -Joss Whedon

Pairs nicely with the Ms. Marvel “to the polls” image:

Ms. Marvel & Joss Whedon on voting

(And yes, that’s a direct visual reference to the 1830 painting “Liberty Leading the People.”)

It’s easy to become frustrated or disillusioned, especially this year, but I think there is something incredible about voting.

This year my family went together, lining up with a hundred neighbors waiting for the polls to open. I wore my Captain America hoodie—an older woman remarked about its appropriateness.

My son watched as I voted. I pointed out that I’d just voted for a woman for president for the first time in my life. I voted for what could be only the fourth woman to represent Minnesota in the U.S. House and our first gay member of Congress. I voted for what could be West St. Paul’s first female mayor. I pointed to the school district levy, that I was voting for his school to keep getting money. (And I voted for at least a dozen judges running opposed, which felt kind of silly.)

The candidates have had their many, many months. But now it’s our turn.

However you vote, this is our moment. So vote.

Election 2016: Why I’m Voting for Hillary Clinton

Every presidential election year since I started blogging I’ve talked about who I’m voting for and why. I do this not so much to convince other people, but for myself. Sometimes I think it’s helpful to have a snapshot of what we were thinking at a certain moment in time. My views have changed over the years, so I think it’s interesting to see that over time.

And oh the 2016 presidential election is one worthy of a snapshot. Or two.

Before I dive too deep, let me give the disclaimer that I don’t like blogging about politics. I did a lot of that in 2008 and ended up alienating some folks, myself included. It’s a difficult subject to talk about, and I wish we could do a better job. This year I tried to stick to local politics.

“If two smart and logical people disagree, it’s most likely because they are acting on different information.” -Bill “Billo” O’Donnell (A Truck Full of Money by Tracey Kidder)

Sometimes I think that’s the crux of division right now.

All that to say, this is what I think right now. If you disagree with me, that’s fine. But before you think I’m a jerk or an idiot or something, maybe we should examine our underlying positions.

I’m voting for Hillary Clinton for president. Continue reading Election 2016: Why I’m Voting for Hillary Clinton

2016 Elections in West St. Paul: Taxes & Infrastructure

This year I’ve blogged about a lot of local elections here in West St. Paul:

Why?

Part of my frustration goes back to the misleading statements and misinformation in the 2014 election. But alas, I’ve been complaining about how hard it is to find information about local races since 2003.

Seriously, the most we get are candidate sites and a few candidate forums and questionnaires. Those are helpful, but there’s no push back. A candidate can say whatever they want and it goes unchallenged. It’s no wonder turnout for local elections is horrendous.

So I guess it’s time to start fixing the problem. I did push back when candidates were leaving out important details or being completely misleading. I also spoke up when they were being misrepresented. I’ve been passionate and certainly biased, but hopefully I wasn’t too much of a jerk. Continue reading 2016 Elections in West St. Paul: Taxes & Infrastructure

West St. Paul City Council Ward 1 Race: Pat Armon & Bob Pace

So I’ve written about the West St. Paul mayor, ward 2 and ward 3 city council races, so I might as well explore the ward 1 race and cover all the bases. Incumbent Pat Armon is running for reelection in ward 1 and is facing challenger Bob Pace.

Pat Armon works for the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development. Bob Pace is the owner of Pace’s Tire and Service Center on Robert Street in West St. Paul.

Like other races in the city, I think this one comes down to investment versus low taxes. Pat Armon sees the long-term benefits of investment, that investing in infrastructure will raise property values and bring more business and residents to the city. Bob Pace argues that those investments are costing too much and rising property taxes will drive people away.

But there’s also an added element of experience that Pat Armon brings to the table. Neither of these candidates are career politicians. For a town of 20,000 people, our council members are regular citizens who pitch in. I don’t think we should expect city council candidates to know everything, but being knowledgeable and engaged is a big plus. There are areas where Bob Pace admits he doesn’t have answers yet (which is certainly better than faking it or giving us political jargon), and that’s where I think Pat Armon’s experience and expertise shines through. Continue reading West St. Paul City Council Ward 1 Race: Pat Armon & Bob Pace

John Justen: West St. Paul Ward 2 City Council Candidate

West St. Paul ward 2 city council candidate John Justen is doing a meet and greet at Carbone’s Pizza on Saturday, Oct. 29 from 3-5 p.m. What a great opportunity to meet a local candidate face to face and get your questions answered.

John Justen for Ward 2 City Council
Can we take a moment and recognize the brilliant pun in John Justen’s yard sign? “For Ward 2 City Council” or “Forward 2 City Council”—Nice.

John has been one of the truly interesting candidates in our local West St. Paul race. He’s a business owner impacted by Robert Street who doesn’t think it’s the worst thing ever. He also appeared on the Streets.mn podcast, totally nerding out with host Bill Lindeke for an hour about local development, business opportunity, city design, sidewalks and more. If you want to see an example of a knowledgeable and engaged candidate, take a listen.

I especially like his take on Robert Street from the Dakota County Chamber of Commerce candidate questionnaires:

“One lesson we can learn from the Robert Street reconstruction is that the delay of necessary spending increases results in higher costs in the long run. As a retail business owner, I make decisions about how and when to spend my money every day. As is true in business, our city’s success is based on frugal but forward looking investment. Fiscal responsibility does not mean doing nothing; it means recognizing needs and opportunities and responding to them in a timely and efficient manner.”

That, in a nutshell, is the Robert Street project. It had to be done. Delaying the inevitable just makes it cost more. So let’s seize the opportunity. I think mayoral candidate Jenny Halverson has the same investment-focused view.

I’m also appreciative of John Justen because he gave a comment for my Robert Street easement story that included an actual opinion. I understand the current council members and mayor were advised not to weigh in (rightfully so), but the other candidates were free to share their thoughts. Even if you disagree with John Justen, at least he weighed in.

John Justen is facing Anthony Fernandez for the Ward 2 city council seat, which is being vacated by Jenny Halverson’s run for mayor.

More on John Justen: