41B forum-goers appreciate time with candidates


Solomon Gustavo photos Incumbent DFL Rep. Mary Kunesh-Podein, of New Brighton, and challenger Tim Utz of Columbia Heights, who is running as an independent, fielded questions from the audience during a St. Anthony Chamber of Commerce forum with the House District 41B candidates at St. Anthony City Hall Oct. 24.

St. Anthony residents — and neighbors — Megan and John MacLeod, and Jo and Dave Youngren, said they appreciated the time hearing candidates detail their positions.

The St. Anthony Chamber of Commerce hosted a meet-and-greet and forum for Minnesota House District 41B candidates at St. Anthony City Hall Oct. 24.

District 41B includes St. Anthony, southern New Brighton and Columbia Heights.

Incumbent DFL Rep. Mary Kunesh-Podein, of New Brighton, and challenger Tim Utz of Columbia Heights, who is running as an independent, fielded questions from the audience. 

The two were in lockstep on issues here and there, like de-privatizing prisons, but largely had little in common — Utz is concerned with minimilist government as defined by the state constitution, Kunesh-Podein is a progressive.

"You have a nice, clear choice," said Ramona Anderson. The Columbia Heights resident said she is a Utz supporter, and her mind was made up before the forum. But, she added, she learned a lot more about Kunesh-Podein.

St. Anthony resident John MacLeod said he knew next to nothing about either candidate. After the forum, which lasted a little over an hour, he said he had learned enough to back Kunesh-Podein. He said she shares his sensibilities, and was particularly impressed with her stricter stance on gun laws. 

Jo Youngren, also from St. Anthony, said she knows who she will vote for, but felt she still needed to hear from both, and jumped at the chance to do so in person. 

"They don't have attack ads," said Don Connelly, which he said can make it harder to know what either is really about. "It's probably good they dont have attack ads," said the St. Anthony resident, shooting an amused look above his reading glasses.

Connelly said the forum didn't change his vote, but that he left feeling he had a deeper understanding of both candidates. 

"It's very helpful," said St. Anthony resident Elaine Salsbury. Her husband Roger said he wasn't certain which way he was leaning before the forum and that he is still undecided, but that the forum will factor into his final decision. 

Election Day is Nov. 6.

 

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

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