House District 41A candidates talk health care, jobs and education

The Minnesota House of Representatives District 41A race features a longtime DFL incumbent and a new Republican challanger. 

In 2016, Rep. Connie Bernardy won with 60 percent of the vote over Republican Ryan Evanson. This year, the six-term incumbent’s GOP challenger is Susan Erickson, who came up short last year in a bid for New Brighton mayor.

District 41A includes northern New Brighton, Fridley and Spring Lake Park. 

The candidates answered questions via email including why they are running, what skills and experiences they will bring to office, what they believe to be the top challenges the district and state face and what issues or projects they would prioritize if elected.

Election Day is Nov. 6.

 

Bernardy has been a state representative since 2001. She earned a bachelor’s degree in communications from the University of Minnesota, is a public works planning specialist for Ramsey County and lives in New Brighton with her husband Dan. 

“I care deeply about our community. I grew up here and continue to love calling it  home,” said Bernardy, noting her career has been about “creating partnerships to strengthen communities.” 

She said she is running because she believes that is done through “supporting education, investing in a brighter future for our families and increasing economic prosperity for all Minnesotans.” She added that her community cares about one another and wants to see each other succeed. 

Bernardy listed access to affordable health care, a “world-class education” and opportunities like paid family leave, earned sick time, and protection for seniors as challenges facing district neighborhoods. 

She said she would work to create a MinnesotaCare buy-in “so everyone has access to quality health care they can afford.” Bernardy vowed to work to invest in education from pre-kindergarten to college and career training, adding goals of keeping class sizes low and reducing student tuition and debt. 

“I will work to expand the middle class,” said Bernardy of initiatives aimed toward helping working families and seniors live “safe, healthy and successful” lives.

If re-elected, Bernardy said she would prioritize achieving success, which she said is attainable through “education, hard work and commitment.” 

 

Erickson served on the New Brighton Planning Commission for two years, and said she has taken Minnesota Senate District 41 Republican leadership positions since 2008. 

Erickson is retired and lives in New Brighton. She said she has gained skills from her experiences as a career-long paralegal, her government experience and being a child safety trainer and volunteer coordinator at her church. 

“I want to make a difference,” said Erickson. “I recognize the crucial and urgent problems facing Minnesotans but also have common-sense solutions.”

Erickson said she is running because the district has “been represented for too long by career politicians tied to special interest groups or political parties.” She said she is a “fresh new voice” who will work hard for things 41A communities values most. 

Higher taxes and “skyrocketing” health care costs are the district’s primary challenges, said Erickson. She said there is “an urgent need for oversight and auditing of programs.”

One example is health care, said Erickson, which has morphed into multiple layers of bureaucracy that drives up costs and “often puts government between you and your doctor.”

Erickson said businesses and jobs are leaving Minnesota “due to high taxes and burdensome regulations.” She said she would prioritize making Minnesota more business-friendly. 

“Removing needless regulations while keeping protections in place and streamlining the permitting process,” said Erickson, would retain and bring new business and “expand and create jobs to boost our economy making life better for all.”

She also said she would promote trade and tech schools as alternatives to a four-year college.

 

For more information about voting, go to www.sos.state.mn.us/elections-voting.

 

-Solomon Gustavo can be reached at sgustavo@lillienews.com or 651-748-7815.

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