House District 53A candidates discuss needs of the area

Residents of House District 53A will see new and returning faces when determining who their new state representative will be in this election cycle. 

Current District 53A Rep. JoAnn Ward, DFL, is finishing up her third, two-year term. She announced in January that she is not seeking re-election to the Minnesota Legislature.

District 53A is made up of Landfall, Oakdale south of 10th Street, most of south Maplewood and the northeastern section of Woodbury.

Andy Turonie, Republican, and current Maplewood City Council member Tou Xiong, DFL, are vying for the seat.

Turonie was also the Republican candidate in the District 53A race in 2016.

The Review asked the candidates via email why they are running, what skills and experiences they will bring to office, what they believe the top challenges will be in the district in upcoming years and what project they will prioritize if elected.

 

Turonie, 44, lives in Maplewood with his wife Kendre. He works full-time as an educational software account manager for Paradigm Educational Solutions in St. Paul, and holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin River Falls.

“I am running as a voice of common sense and reason,” Turonie said. “Our Blue Team versus Red Team mentality gets lots of retweets and ‘shares,’ but it makes for bad policy.”

He explained that he is running for office so any resident of the district, regardless of political party, can ask him to watch out for their taxes, while still helping to provide good schools and clean water.

“These things are not diametrically opposed, but the way to do it doesn’t fit on a meme or a bumper sticker. I am running to represent voices that are more interested in results than ‘likes,’” Turonie said.

Turonie said that if he is elected, he will bring to office the skills and experiences he has gained from 20 years of working with small businesses, from working with students and educators in higher education and from “finding common sense solutions with measurable results.”

He explained that he thinks a top challenge for the district will be “controlling our state budget and prioritizing our state spending to keep the hard-working and talented people of Minnesota in Minnesota.”

He added that he thinks “rising healthcare costs and an aging population will magnify the need to make our state government more efficient. If corrective action is not taken, the continued wasteful spending and government inefficiency will put us in financial situations like Illinois and California.”

Turonie said that if he is elected, he will prioritize ending taxation of social security income of seniors and “finding market-driven solutions to keep our healthcare costs affordable.”

 

Xiong, 28, is unmarried and lives in Maplewood. He works a contract position as a legal editor for Taj Technology, and holds a J.D. degree from William Mitchell College of Law.

Xiong said he is running for election because he believes he can offer “a values-based approach to moving legislation” that will best represent the needs and concerns of district residents.

“I bring legislative experience as a former legislative staff at the State Ethnic Councils that can be instrumental in hitting the ground running on day one,” Xiong said.

“Furthermore, I am running because I know I am the best representative for 53A because all the values and political education I gained were all while I was growing up right here in 53A where I graduated [from] Tartan High School, left for college and law school, and came back to serve my district here in 53A.”

Xiong said that, if elected, he will bring to office skills in legislative drafting, lobbying, legal analysis, public speaking and legislative tracking.

Education, healthcare and economic opportunities are what Xiong believes are the top challenges the district faces, and he said that, if elected, he will prioritize “prevention of another last minute omnibus bill where no legislator has any chance of reviewing before the final vote.”

“I will work with my caucus leaders and work on a resolution to get bills out early enough for it to be available for honest deliberation before any final vote,” Xiong said.

 

 

Election Day is Nov. 6. To verify your voting location visit, www.pollfinder.sos.state.mn.us.

 

-Aundrea Kinney can be reached at 651-748-7822 or akinney@lillienews.com

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