Candidates offer variety of priorities in MN Fourth Congressional District race


Susan Pendergast Sindt

Greg Ryan

Betty McCollum

There are three candidates in the biennial race for Minnesota’s Fourth Congressional District, which includes Ramsey County, St. Paul and parts of Washington County out to the St. Croix River.

Incumbent DFL Rep. Betty McCollum is seeking her ninth term since first taking office in 2001; her challengers are Greg Ryan, a Republican from Roseville, and Susan Pendergast Sindt, the Legal Marijuana Now Party candidate from Maplewood.

The Review asked the candidates what skills they would bring to elected office, what challenges the Fourth District and the nation face in the coming years, and what project or issue they would prioritize if elected. 

The candidates’ answers keyed in on different issues: McCollum emphasized investment in the district’s infrastructure, while Ryan targeted economic opportunities and Sindt was focused on ending drug prohibition and prison reform.

More about the candidates and their answers are below. Election Day is Nov. 8.

 

McCollum, 62, is divorced and the mother of two adult children. She received a bachelor’s degree from St. Catherine University in St. Paul. She was a member of the North St. Paul City Council and the Minnesota House of Representatives before being elected to Congress.

Leaning on 25 years in retail sales and management, McCollum said working to meet the needs of people has always been a priority.

“Citizens deserve to have their elected leaders solving problems, not fighting or playing political games,” she said, noting that while she has strong policy positions, she is “committed to working with Democrats and Republicans to find common ground that allows us to move our country forward and keep our families safe, secure and successful.”

Mentioning the benefits of the Metro Green Line light rail line, McCollum said investing in transportation infrastructure in the district will grow the east metro’s economy.

“We need more partnerships and investment to expand the Gold Line to Woodbury, the Riverview Corridor to the airport, and extend the A Line to Rice Creek Commons, connecting Bethel and University of Northwestern,” she said.

McCollum said she would prioritize working to end gridlock in Congress.

“I want to restore predictability, stability, and bipartisan problem solving to positively address issues like immigration reform, tax reform, climate change, and passing a federal budget,” she said.

 

Ryan, 57, is the owner of Ryan Plumbing and Heating in St. Paul and he has two children. He previously ran for the Ramsey Conservation District board in 2012 and has worked with St. Paul’s District 7 Planning Council.

“My 32 years as a business owner addressing the issues that matter the most to people and knowing how to solve the problems that affect them the most,” are what Ryan said he would bring to Congress.

Noting his roots in the Frogtown neighborhood of St. Paul, Ryan said the area’s economy motivated his candidacy.

“I have great concern for the economic hardship on area residents and their hardship is the primary reason I am running for Minnesota’s Fourth Congressional District seat,” he said. “It breaks my heart when I see my customers, the people of the community, unable to afford a safe, healthy, and comfortable home.”

Ryan said he sees people struggling and oftentimes special interest groups are put ahead of working families.

“I want to go to Washington to help the people back home addressing their needs and making sure all rules and regulations have a common sense and legal approach to helping them and governing their private property,” he said.

 

Sindt, 54, is CEO of Simply Vapour, a vape supply store in Maplewood, and is married to her husband Craig. She has a bachelor’s degree in biology from St. Cloud State University and received her teaching certification from Hamline University.

Noting a wide variety of work experience, including work in the service industry, healthcare, education and as a small business owner, Sindt said she’s “learned to work independently and also as part of a team.”

“As a teacher, I developed the ability to explain complicated information to a diverse population, and to organize and plan for large and small events. I learned strategies that help encourage people to get along with each other,” she said. “Congress needs that.”

Sindt said the nation needs to end its addiction to fossil fuels and to focus on developing renewable energy resources. She said she supports single-payer healthcare, reducing the cost of post-secondary education and closing privately owned, for-profit prisons.

“Drug prohibition, like alcohol prohibition, has become a national disaster,” Sindt said. “I would work diligently to end the failed, unconstitutional, racially-biased war on drugs. I would work to legalize cannabis in all 50 states; erase past non-violent marijuana convictions; and diminish employment drug testing.”

 

Mike Munzenrider can be reached at mmunzenrider@lillienews.com or 651-748-7813. Follow him on Twitter @mmunzenrider.

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