Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Candidate Forum

On October 5, the St. Cloud Area Human Services Council’s Public Policy Committee organized a candidate forum for District 14 and 15. Candidates in attendance included the following: District 14 Senate candidates Michelle Fischbach and Mike Sharp and District 15 candidates John Pederson and Bruce Hentges. From District 14, representatives that were present were Tim O’Odriscoll, Rob Jacobs, Larry Hosch and Tom Ellenbecker. From District 15, Anne Nolan, Steve Gottwalt, King Banaian, and Carol Lewis were in attendance.

The questions that were addressed during the forum were as follows:

1. If you are elected, what would be your position on funding for Early Childhood through Grade 12, as it relates to a balanced budget?
2. Many people who work are unable to afford housing despite having a source of income. Since many jobs do not pay enough to afford housing, how do you plan to ensure that people who are employed can afford safe, stable housing?
3. Given the projected deficit of the state budget, what do you understand to be essential state funded programs target to low income households and what action, if any, would you take to maintain and/or grow these resources to address basic needs?
4. What do you see as the key issues related to health care reform in Minnesota? In your eyes, what needs to happen?

Not all candidates were able to answer all questions due to time limitations. However, most questions were covered during this forum – primarily questions 1, 3, and 4. Some themes that surfaced by the candidates during the forum included:
  • The state of the economy and the need to grow jobs and reduce unemployment stated by all candidates.
  • The state budget, deficit and the need to either grow revenues, reduce expenses or both. During these discussions, there were good points and ideas brought forth by both sides of the political spectrum. It is definitely a concern by everyone.
  • Transparency and accountability were talked about by both sides as well and the need to understand where/how things are funded, impact, and efficiencies. Both sides expressed similar viewpoints.
  • Healthcare seem to vary across the board and was difficult to follow the various discussions.

Overall, it was a very good and informative forum. It depicts the passion, energy, and caring nature of all candidates regardless of political alignment; and there’s realization by all that it’s a tough road ahead with many difficult decisions.
Kathy Grochow, NRS, St. Cloud


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