“I'm running for State Senate District 26 because I want every person's voice to count.”
I believe it is time for all the people who think they don’t count, that their vote doesn’t matter, that change is not possible, to believe with me. To come in. To own this campaign with me.
Time is running out for us to make the kind of change that will save our planet, reclaim our democracy, and end crushing inequalities. Changing the status quo will never be easy but is possible when we come forward together.
I believe we need a new kind of politics where people have a say in creating the priorities and where our hopes are not cut short by what we’re told is politically possible. People together can create what is possible if we allow ourselves to have a vision of something different and can believe in our power to bring it about.
This is what I hope for in our state government:
I have a core belief that every person has inherent dignity and worth—everyone deserves care. I am a doctor who trained in public health and specialized in the care of older hospitalized patients. I’ve witnessed how gaps in insurance coverage can be devastating for people and their families. I want everyone to show up at the clinic or hospital as equals—equally deserving with equal access.
But more and more of us are falling into a second, third or fourth class of citizen when we seek care—based on our insurance status or ability to pay. When insurance and pharmaceutical companies are enjoying record profits, I do not accept that we don’t have enough money to provide quality essential care to everyone. I became a doctor to care for people and fighting for people’s needs is part of the Hippocratic oath I took. I believe we need a system where medical institutions view and treat people on our public healthcare programs as equals to those with private insurance.
Ensuring essential healthcare services also means that all people need gender appropriate care, regardless of their identity. Women must have the right to make decisions affecting their own body and choice in their reproductive care. Government policy must not dictate the private decisions patients make with their medical providers.
I believe caregivers provide essential services to us and deserve the respect and living wage in line with the important and challenging work they do. And families need help to provide caregiving. Caring for loved ones shouldn’t become an economic crisis for families, whether it is having a baby, caring for a dying parent, or finding childcare.
It is past time to establish a statewide paid family and medical leave program and Minnesotans overwhelmingly this because at some time every family will need this support. We need a program that treats all employers equally and doesn’t penalize small businesses. In addition, a shortage of caregivers of all kinds is a crisis throughout Minnesota, particularly in our rural areas.
When our childcare, home care, or elder care providers receive a living wage, more people will come forward to do this work. But this also means creating state policies that support affordability of caregiving for families, such as fully funding our Childcare Assistance Program.
The climate crisis cannot wait for political leaders that stand in the way of solutions to develop the courage to face this reality. I believe right now enough of us understand the impact this climate crisis means for our future. We must and can bring people together to make policy change happen.
Green energy solutions exist right now to create the economy and jobs that our young people are waiting for. In the face of technology changes that may make many kinds of work obsolete, we need an education and training program for the climate-rescuing jobs of the future, work that cannot be offshored or done by machine.
We can train workers to build net zero energy buildings, whether it is revitalizing older ones or constructing new. We need more farmers on the land growing food for our local needs while employing the more labor-intensive practices that store carbon in the soil. Minnesota is known for innovation and our people for their strong work ethic. Let us use our strengths to create a different future for our children and ourselves.
Farmers describe this period not as a crisis, but one of farm extinction. Yet they are the backbone of rural communities and the stewards of the land. Farmers can transition to carbon storing, regenerative practices that can build resilience in the face of erratic and severe weather precipitated by climate change. But in this time of farm crisis, with negative median income last year of $1500, they need help to change how they farm and need the local food systems that support diversification of their farms in order to guarantee healthy food for our communities.
We all have an interest in helping small farms keep land out of the hands of large absentee industrial operations that pollute, breed dangerous organisms resistant to antibiotics, and are major contributors to global warming. Supporting our small and mid-size farms is not a handout to farmers but is ensuring that our communities have food security, clean water and air.
With many facing foreclosure or sale of their farms, they also need investment in the Minnesota Farm Advocates program so they know their rights. They need help to restructure loans. And they urgently need healthcare insurance they can afford. A buy-in to our MinnesotaCare program is a ready solution. All these things are possible at the state level.
Minnesota needs to march toward a future where diversity, inclusion and respect for the rights of all people to live freely, reaching their full potential, loving whom they love, will not be denied. This is the promise of America. This is the future that unleashes the creative potential of our society and brings forward solutions to make sure everyone thrives. Minnesota will prosper if we remove these barriers to everyone’s success.
But we are in a dangerous moment when vicious narratives about our hard-working immigrant neighbors are openly promoted, when white supremacist ideology goes unchallenged, when synagogues and mosques are bombed, the rights of our LGBTQ community are increasingly threatened, and the disabled become expendable. These divisions stop us from recognizing that our needs are shared and that only together will we have the strength to make government work for all of us.
The story that only some deserve to live and work here, that the pie is not big enough to let everyone share, serves only the few who want to divide us to enrich their slice. This story justifies policies that have created unsustainable inequalities and concentrations of wealth and power. We need a new story.
Minnesota has a labor shortage and it is time to welcome and recognize the valuable role that immigrants play in our economy, not only filling critical roles in areas such as agriculture, the service industry, and caregiving, but also as leaders, entrepreneurs, innovators and taxpayers. And everyone who is here deserves access to proper identification and a driver’s license so they can drive to work safely.
I believe we can find common ground with each other, acknowledge our common humanity, and push back to demand fairness so everyone lives with dignity. We are Minnesota and we can do better by those who choose to call this state their home.
We have solutions and the support of the majority of Minnesotans to end the public health emergency that is gun violence. Gun safety leaders have proposed steps we can take right now such as enforcing our existing gun safety laws, enacting strict background checks, stopping the sale of high capacity ammunition clips, and putting in place red flag laws to stop domestic abusers and the suicides of our loved ones. What we need is action in our legislatures.
And we must treat this as the public health issue that it is. Gun deaths are the leading cause of death of Minnesota’s children and teens. We must allocate research dollars to find the best answers. With Minnesota as a national leader in healthcare solutions, it is time to stop the stalemate in the Minnesota Senate to protect our children and each other. This has nothing to do with disarming hunters but everything to do with protecting our communities.
We invest in public education because it is the path for all of us to enjoy healthier communities with more possibilities for fulfilling work. Older generations who have enjoyed economic security will recognize that this was possible because of such investments, from elementary schools up through public community colleges and universities.
But our schools have not fully recovered from Minnesota’s disinvestment in education during the Pawlenty years, forcing local school systems to rely increasingly on property taxes. This funding model exacerbates the differences between have and have not communities. It disproportionately hurts our farmers and small business owners. The Walz administration has taken steps to remedy these disparities, but more investment is needed.
Many of our students succeed because of the commitment of our teachers. But not all students. Minnesota has the highest disparities in the nation for outcomes of our indigenous students and students of color. The numbers of these students in our school systems will continue to grow, and these young people represent the future potential of Minnesota. We all have an interest in their success and need a commitment to ending these disparities. We all do better when we all do better.
We should reduce the enormous burden of paying off loans for higher education and technical training so our young people can develop businesses, buy homes and start families. Young people of promise will develop the skills needed to drive our local economies if we invest in the public educational institutions that give them these skills.
We are more effective in communicating and achieving what we need when we act together. This is the goal of unions and a core value I bring as a candidate for elected office.
I support the right of collecting bargaining, including workers in the public sector. When our public servants raise their collective voices, whether as teachers or government employees, some people will complain that they are asking for things they are not getting in their own workplace and fear an increase in taxes. We should recognize that attacking unions is another effort to divide us and divert attention from an important fact: while we are seeing widening income inequalities, income taxes have gone down for those few enjoying the highest incomes.
At a time when people feel less power over the decisions that affect most areas of their life, we should all recognize and support the right of people to organize within their workplace for safe working conditions and fair compensation. We need to invest in each other and in the services that we all need that can only be provided through good government. And we must work to ensure the health of unions and other organizations that give all of us a voice over the decisions that affect us.