SD64 DFL endorses Dave Pinto for 64B!

PintoThe SD64 DFL is proud to endorse Dave Pinto to represent District 64B in the Minnesota House of Representatives. Dave is currently a prosecutor with the Ramsey County Attorney’s office, focusing on juvenile sex trafficking. He has long been active in the local DFL, supporting candidates in SD64 and around the state. You can learn more about him by reading the candidate questionnaire he submitted, or his original meet the candidates post, or by visiting his website.

Frequently asked questions about the SD64 Convention

We’ve gotten a lot of questions about our convention next Sunday, March 23, and we’ve put together a short list of some of the most frequent ones. If this is your first convention, or if you have any questions, please read below. If you have any questions not addressed here, let us know at info@sd64dfl.org.

HOW LONG WILL IT LAST?

It all depends on how smoothly things go and the number of ballots needed to decide on the endorsement for 64B. If you look at the agenda, you can see that there are a number of items we need to accomplish before we get to the 64B endorsement. But don’t let that scare you! Many items such as the election of officers and directors should go fairly quickly because we propose and adopt the nominations as a slate. We’re adopting changes to the SD64 DFL constitution to conform to the state DFL constitution. Other items have the potential to take longer, such as subcaucusing for state delegates. We have some suggestions below on what you can do to help make the day go smoothly.

If things run smoothly, we hope that we can get through the first portion of the agenda (up through the endorsements in 64A and 64B) in two hours. After that, the 64A House Seat is up for endorsement. Erin Murphy is running for re-election. Her name will be put in nomination and unless there is a challenge, 64A will vote on her nomination by acclamation – meaning no balloting. She may then give a short acceptance speech.

After that we move to the B-Side election. We anticipate that Michael Paymar may give a short speech before we begin the process. Then each candidate will be nominated, which means someone that the campaign has selected will stand up and say “I nominate X for House of Representatives 64B.” The candidate will give a speech accepting the nomination. We will do that for each candidate running. Then there is a 30 minute Q & A. After that we vote. The process is described below in more detail. This process could take several hours, or it could be relatively short if everyone coalesces around a candidate.

WHAT CAN I DO TO MAKE THINGS RUN SMOOTHLY?

Review the materials that we will be covering

Read through the agenda and through these FAQs. Look at the materials that we’ll be discussing, such as the proposed rules, and the proposed changes to the SD64 DFL constitution. If you’ve never subcaucused before, look at the information on that process (see below).

Ask your questions in advance

If you have questions regarding the agenda, changes to the constitution, the process, or anything else, let’s try to get those answered in advance. Please contact us at info@sd64dfl.org and we’ll help you understand the process.

Volunteer to help at the convention

We need lots of volunteers to help the convention run smoothly! If you can help on the day of, please let us know at arrangements@sd64dfl.org.

WHAT SHOULD I BRING?

This could be an exciting, but long day, especially for the B-side. There will be downtime so you may want to bring something to read, to knit, or to otherwise entertain yourself while ballots are being counted. We are excited that the good folks from Trotters will be there to sell food and coffee and some girl scouts will be selling cookies, so bring some money. Note that food will not be allowed in the gym.

Bring a pen or two for filling out resolutions ballots and ballots for the 64B endorsement. We also ask that you consider bringing cash or a check to make a donation to the Senate District. Conventions are very expensive to run. We have to rent the space and the equipment and we pay for printing and supplies. We will be spending several thousand dollars to put this event on and it’s all funded by donations. Your donation of up to $50 can be refunded to you through the state PCR program. If you would like a receipt for the program, please donate by check or credit card, or bring cash in a sealed envelope with your name, address, and email on there so we can get the PCR form to you.

HOW DO I GET ELECTED TO BE A STATE DELEGATE? HOW DOES SUBCAUCUSING WORK?

SD64 DFL will be electing 26 delegates and 26 alternates to the State DFL Convention, which will be held in Duluth, Minnesota May 30 – June 1. The purpose of the State Convention, among other things, is to endorse state-level candidates, such as governor, secretary of state, U.S. Senator, etc. All delegates and alternates to the State DFL convention will be automatic delegates to the Fourth Congressional District Convention, which will occur on April 26 in St. Paul, where we endorse a candidate for the U.S. House.

Elections typically take place through subcaucusing. This 2008 video by Team Franken might give you a feel for the subcaucus process. The video is a few years old and was originally meant as a guide for caucuses, but the same principles apply to this year’s convention (the part on electing delegates and subcaucusing starts at about 1:30 in the video).

HOW CAN I MAKE SUBCAUCUSING RUN MORE SMOOTHLY?

If someone nominates a subcaucus with a candidate (or issue) that interests you, consider joining their subcaucus. Although you can still form your own, the more subcaucuses we have the longer it will take. You don’t need to nominate your own subcaucus to become a delegate.

To make things run more smoothly, we suggest you limit the length of your subcaucus name to five or fewer words. Remember the first word must be a candidate name or uncommitted. For example “Franken – Healthcare” or “Dayton – Labor.” Additionally, per the DFL Call the name of a sub-caucus “must not be readily confused with the title of a previously nominated subcaucus.” If you call a sub-caucus, keep the name short, clear, and easily distinguished. The Convention Chairs may rename your sub-caucus for clarity or even reject those that violate the Call.

We will have poster board available if you want to make a sign for your subcaucus, but feel free to bring your own pre-made sign.

HOW DOES THE 64B ENDORSEMENT PROCESS WORK?

Only delegates (or upgraded alternates) who live in 64B can vote on the 64B endorsement. When the ballot process begins, the precinct delegation chair will go to the front of the gym and get the ballots for your precinct. She/he will hand out one ballot to each person in your precinct. Please write the name of the candidate you support or the words “no endorsement”. If you write more than one name, if you write both a name and the word “no endorsement,” or if you write a random word such as “uncommitted” your ballot is considered “illegal” and will not be counted. After you have marked your ballot, please turn it over and sign it. YOU MUST SIGN YOUR BALLOT IF YOU WANT IT TO BE COUNTED. Sorry, it’s a state DFL rule. We didn’t make the rule, but we do have to enforce it.

After you have marked and signed your ballot, please hand it back to your precinct delegation chair. The Delegation Chair will take it back to the Head Teller or Deputy Teller at the front of the room. That person will bring the ballots back to the room for counting.

After the ballots from all 14 precincts have been counted, it is possible that a candidate (or two) may be eliminated from balloting for the next round. For example, if our draft rules are adopted, candidates may be eliminated if they do not receive 10% of the vote on the first ballot or 15% of the vote on the second ballot. We will announce the results of every ballot from the stage. If someone is no longer in the running, do not vote for them or your ballot will be illegal and not counted.

DON’T FORGET TO SIGN YOUR BALLOT!

WHAT IS THE NO-ENDORSEMENT THING?

Some people may believe that all of the candidates are wonderful and don’t want to pick one (or conversely, some may not like any of the candidates). If someone believes that the Senate District should not endorse a candidate, they can vote “No Endorsement.” Voting “No Endorsement” will increase the number of total votes in the count, and the total votes needed for an endorsement.

IF I AM AN ALTERNATE SHOULD I COME TO THE CONVENTION?

Yes! Alternates can still seek to be delegates to the state convention. And if you’re on the B-side, you may be upgraded to delegate and allowed to vote. Alternates will be upgraded after the first credentials report. The process to upgrade will be announced from the stage. Unseated alternates will be able to watch from the visitors’ area, and may be upgraded any time after the first credentials report if delegate spots become available.

WHO IS MY PRECINCT DELEGATION CHAIR?

Typically, the precinct chair elected at precinct caucuses on February 4 will serve as your delegation chair. If the precinct chair is not at the convention, then the vice chair will serve. If neither are at the convention, your precinct will need to select someone to serve that role for purposes of the convention.

WHAT’S WITH THIS RAMSEY COUNTY CONVENTION?

There are two conventions this weekend. The Ramsey County Convention is on Saturday, March 22, with registration starting at 8am. The SD64 Convention is on Sunday, March 23, with registration starting at 10:30am. If you were elected a delegate at the caucuses, you’re a delegate to both conventions. If you cannot attend one, we’d still love to see you at the other!

DO I NEED TO TELL YOU IF I CAN’T COME TO THE CONVENTION?

No. Because of how the registration and credentials process works, you don’t need to tell us if you are not coming.

WHAT IF I CAN’T BE THERE AT THE START OF THE CONVENTION?

If you’re not able to make it right at the start, please get there when you can. Keep in mind if you plan to participate in the election process for state delegate, you must be there when the process starts because we “freeze” the floor, which means no one can come or go from the part of the gym where we are doing the election process.

The same is true during the endorsement voting process. We will “freeze” the floor before each round of balloting and “unfreeze” it after all the ballots have been collected. During this time period NO ONE except delegates and upgraded alternates can be sitting in the floor area for delegates.

CAN I LEAVE AND COME BACK?

We understand emergencies happen and people need to leave early, or leave and come back. If you must leave, please notify your precinct delegation chair AND hand your credential badge into them or to the credentials table. If you come back, head straight to the credentials (registration) table for a badge. PLEASE DO NOT TAKE YOUR BADGE WITH YOU WHEN YOU LEAVE UNLESS THE CONVENTION IS ADJOURNED.

SPECIAL ROUTE ALERT

Summit Avenue will be closed on March 23 between Wheeler and Victoria Street from 11:30am – 3:00pm for a race. Intersections at Snelling Ave., Hamline Avenue, Lexington Avenue and Victoria Avenue may be closed so please plan accordingly. Routes to consider to avoid this section of Summit include Cleveland Avenue, Dale Street, or Ayd Mill Road.

Candidate questionnaire – Gloria Zaiger

In addition to our candidate forum on March 9 (if you missed it, you can hear a recording on Tim Nelson’s blog), we sent a second round of questions to the 64B candidates. Here are Gloria Zaiger’s answers.Zaiger

What do you see as the main issues concerning the residents of House District 64B and how would you address those issues?

One of the main things people are concerned about is education. They want to make sure we are working to fix the achievement gap, while maintaining everything the schools are doing right. They also worry about rising taxes, and want to make sure their money is well spent. I want to make sure the schools have stable funding by increasing the amount in the state reserves, so we never have to borrow from the schools again. I would also like to look at testing requirements, to make sure we are using school time wisely.

Also, the PolyMet mine weighs heavily on people. They know how fragile the ecosystems are in our northern woods, and don’t want to see them damaged for short term economic gain. I will fight to prevent PolyMet from getting its permits, and if it does, I will watch to make sure every single letter of the law is followed.

Transportation and infrastructure are also an issue, especially as our roads are taking a beating this winter. There is a huge projected shortfall for infrastructure in the coming decades that we need to be keeping front and center in budget talks.

How do the interests of 64B differ from the interests of Minnesota as a whole, and how would you balance those interests?

The St Paul Schools have a large number of kids who are eligible for free/reduced lunches, which means they are facing tougher financial situations than other kids. Also, over a third of kids in St Paul schools are English Language learners. This means the challenges facing the schools in 64B may be different than in Minnesota as a whole, and we need to account for that.

Also, the urban areas deal more with issues around homelessness, crime and poverty more than outstate, though they are certainly not immune to those issues.

The need for jobs on the Iron Range is acute. The push for mines like PolyMet will continue unless we can all work together to build their economy based on other industries. Of course, with the Ford Plant closing, St Paul also has lost hundreds of jobs. I want to be a force in helping lure new clean industry, along with housing and open space, to that location.

But other interests are the same. The need to care for an aging population, a deteriorating infrastructure, poverty and health care costs are universal.

Can you describe skills or experience that you possess that will help you succeed in a highly partisan atmosphere? Would your answer change if the DFL is no longer in the majority?

I have been on the Highland District Council and the Capital Improvement Budget Committee, both of which serve the community and have a variety of liberal and conservative members. I know how to fight for what I believe in, but also to disagree with respect. In both places, I always made sure to stay on excellent terms with everyone, and worked to achieve as much as possible together.

Also, when I worked with the St Paul City Council to get an ordinance passed, I worked with many people how saw things very differently. But I made sure everyone was heard, and the final draft of the ordinance was all the stronger for it. I want to reach out to the people who disagree and find common ground, find a way to move pass differences to solid conversations and find agreement.

None of this would change if I was in the majority or the minority. I think excluding the minority completely when you’re in the majority does not bode well for future negotiations, or for the times when some votes from the minority are still needed to pass a bill. It should be all about personal relationships, regardless of party.

If you win this election, you will be filling a seat that has been occupied by some of the most respected leaders in the Minnesota House. Identify three concrete accomplishments of yours that demonstrate the type of leader and state representative that you will be.

  1. In 2004, I wanted a change made to a St Paul City Ordinance, it happened to be about the humane treatment of dogs. I started with Animal Control, the enforcing entity, and was met initially with skepticism. But I created a coalition of rescue groups and veterinarians, and then met with my city councilman, Lee Helgen, and we got the ball rolling. After seeing I was intent on seeing it through, I got Animal Control to sign on and help draft the ordinance language. It ended up being one of the most comprehensive humane ordinances in the nation, and passed the City Council unanimously. I believe in bringing everyone to the table!
  2. In the years since then, and especially the past 4 years, I have been working to get the same ordinance passed in Minneapolis. They have more layers to go through, and for 4 years I worked to get it through the lower layers, which in 2013 it finally did! The perseverance paid off, and it will now come before the City Council. I know that you can’t give up, and some things take many years to accomplish.
  3. When Paul Wellstone died, I wanted to find a way to continue the work he had so courageously fought for, which included inspiring people to get involved. So I started my own political action group called Stand Up. Once a month we would gather for a pot luck and share the issues we could take on together. It was all women, many of whom had never been politically active before. We did letter writing campaigns, marched together in Code Pink peace marches, researched and discussed legislation, and mainly, inspired each other into action. It was not only great fun, but I’m proud at the skills these women learned and the work we did together.

Our state’s population is aging and with those demographic changes come increased costs for long term care. What steps would you take to address those changes, and how should they be paid for?

We need to make sure that seniors stay healthy and independent for as long as possible. We need to start now to create more public communal meal options, improving and expanding transit options like Metro Mobility statewide, setting up more affordable housing (most people think affordable housing is primarily for young families, but in fact low income seniors are one of the main users even today), and we need to train first responders to spot seniors that aren’t able to care for themselves. There is so much that needs to be done, and it should be phased in starting with budgets in this session. The earlier we can start implementing ways to keep seniors healthy, the lower the strain will be in years to come and the more it can be spread out over many budget cycles.

After several legislative cycles, Minnesota is forecast to have a budget surplus as a result of increased taxes and an improved economy. Stakeholders are calling for a variety of responses, including increasing the state’s budget reserve, spending the money on a variety of initiatives, and repealing some of the B2B taxes. How do you believe the state should respond?

I think the first thing we need to do is build up our reserves, which in 2013 were only half of where they should be. Then, we need to consider the upcoming bills we will be facing, such as the aging of the population and the massive needs of updating our infrastructure. We need to start seriously budgeting for these, as the years ahead could face huge shortfalls. I understand that our taxes are out of sync with the federal tax code, and I could support making those corrections. But I would strongly caution against any new program spending that doesn’t relate specifically to the aging population and infrastructure needs, or any other tax cuts.

Some people define the public good narrowly to include only public safety and roads. Others define the public good more broadly, to include health care for all, economic security for all, education for everyone at all levels, etc. How do you define the public good? How would you decide what should be included in the public good and what should not?

I firmly believe the public good is much broader than roads and public safety. Anything that relates to improving society and helping people achieve is the public good. So programs that help people escape poverty or violence and makes them more productive citizens is good for all of us. Public art and music that elevate our minds and make our cities beautiful, or preserving our natural resources for future generations, all that is public good. Drug treatment, restaurant inspections, public parks, schools and so on, anything that is good for the public is public good!

I would be hesitant about overstepping government’s ability to specifically dictate individual preferences, or anything that invaded personal privacy. I would be cautious here, as there are many shades of grey in this area.

Candidate questionnaire – Melanie McMahon

In addition to our candidate forum on March 9 (if you missed it, you can hear a recording on Tim Nelson’s blog), we sent a second round of questions to the 64B candidates. Here are Melanie McMahon’s answers.McMahon

What do you see as the main issues concerning the residents of House District 64B and how would you address those issues?

Education has always been a top priority of this district and continues to be important to all residents. My neighbors believe in a strong education system as a means of providing opportunities for all Minnesotans to succeed. We need to focus on our entire education system – beginning with early childhood education, including our public K-12 system, and culminating in our postsecondary, career, and adult education programs. College and graduate school education are highly valued in our community and residents are concerned as they become increasingly unaffordable. At the capitol I will fight against borrowing from our schools when we have a deficit and will advocate increasing their funds when we have a surplus.

Increases in property taxes are another issue of concern to 64B residents. While the district understands and supports where the money is going, such as education and local police and fire departments, they also recognize that it is a regressive tax that is difficult for those on a fixed income, such as our senior neighbors. At the capitol, I would advocate for increases in Local Government Aid (LGA), the Homeownerʼs Homestead Credit Refund and the Renterʼs Property Tax Refund.

Fundamentally, 64B has always had a strong history of supporting equal opportunities for all Minnesotans and we believe that racial, social, and economic justice are key to ensuring our state continues to grow and succeed. Other important state assets, including protecting our natural resources and environment and developing a comprehensive transit system and investing in our transportation infrastructure, are also important to residents of 64B.

How do the interests of 64B differ from the interests of Minnesota as a whole, and how would you balance those interests?

The residents of 64B want a state that gives individuals an opportunity to succeed, the very thing that is in the best interests of all Minnesotans.

However, there are aspects of our state budget that residents of a large urban area, such as 64B, would focus on that may differ from other parts of the state. For example, while residents of our district want to invest in our transportation infrastructure because they know it is in desperate need of maintenance and we lack funds to do so, they also want to see an investment in developing a comprehensive transit system. Other parts of the state that do not directly benefit from a metropolitan transit system may not prioritize that investment. Additionally, many in northern Minnesota support sulphide mining, whereas residents of 64B mostly do not support sulphide mining, and believe it is not in the best interests of the state due to the environmental damage it would cause.

Can you describe skills or experiences that you possess that will help you succeed in a highly partisan atmosphere? Would your answer change if the DFL is no longer in the majority?

I have already successfully worked as a Committee Administrator in the often highly partisan and contentious environment at the state capitol, and I have proven I can build relationships and persuade legislators to pass bills with bipartisan support. Iʼm proud that alongside Rep. Michael Paymar we earned the respect of members of the Public Safety Finance committee and passed major, progressive public safety legislation with both DFL and Republican votes.

Having the DFL in control of both legislative chambers, as well as the Governorʼs office, has only happened in two out of the last twenty years. It is imperative that our Representative be able to work successfully not only within our own DFL caucus, but across the aisle as well. My skills of bringing people from varied political and ideological viewpoints together to form coalitions, my ability to work with people of all backgrounds, and my knowledge of the legislative process are what a legislator needs in order to be effective when in the both majority and the minority – a reality that whoever holds this seat will likely need to navigate during their tenure.

If you win this election, you will be filling a seat that has been occupied by some of the most respected leaders in the Minnesota House. Identify three concrete accomplishments of yours that demonstrate the type of leader and state representative that you will be.

As a Committee Administrator in the Minnesota House of Representatives we passed the largest public safety bill in the history of Minnesota, increasing funding for domestic abuse services, legal aid and public defenders, as well as creating innovative reentry services for individuals leaving prison. As the lead staff on this bill, as well as other progressive legislation, I worked with both DFL and Republican legislators to pass it, and I worked with Rep. Paymar to successfully negotiate with the Pawlenty administration his signing of the largest progressive public policy omnibus package in Minnesota history.

I led within our 64B community to successfully advocate for early childhood education at the capitol as an ECFE Site Council member at Randolph Heights Elementary. Using the experience I gained at the capitol I was able to train my fellow St. Paul ECFE parents on how to strongly advocate within our political system and how to most effectively talk with and persuade their legislators to support expanded access to prekindergarten programs.

I have been a leader on the Capital Improvement Budget (CIB) Committee for the city of St. Paul, being initially appointed to represent Senate District 64 and becoming Vice-Chair after two years. On the CIB I have advocated for funding for the capital needs of our community and important assets throughout our city, city staff and worked with fellow CIB members to reach consensus on our funding priorities to build and maintain a city Saint Paul can be proud of.

Our state’s population is aging and with those demographic changes come increased costs for long term care. What steps would you take to address those changes, and how should they be paid for?

Our stateʼs aging population deserves to live safe, healthy, and meaningful lives. This requires providing service and housing options that are both accessible and affordable, and that support and nurture the individual and promotes keeping seniors connected to their family, friends, and communities for as long as they are able to stay living independently. We need to promote those same values as a personʼs needs increase and their ability to live independently leaves them.

The state has a responsibility to support services such as Meals on Wheels, home care services and other support systems that allow seniors to stay in their homes as long as possible. In 64B specifically, we need to support positive senior communities such as Carodolet Village so our parents and grandparents can stay in the community they love, and transition within the community as their care needs change.

As Hubert Humphrey declared, “The moral test of a government is how it treats those who are at the dawn of life, the children; those who are in the twilight of life, the aged; and those who are in the shadow of life, the sick, the needy, and the handicapped.” It is our moral obligation to care for those at the end of their lives. Services for our seniors needs to be a high priority for the state legislature, and its appropriate funding source isthe state general fund, supported by progressive tax policies.

After several legislative cycles, Minnesota is forecast to have a budget surplus as a result of increased taxes and an improved economy. Stakeholders are calling for a variety of responses, including increasing the stateʼs budget reserve, spending the money on a variety of initiatives, and repealing some of the B2B taxes. How do you believe the state should respond?

I would first put money into our state reserves to make sure we have a budget that is able to weather future economic downturns.

Second, I would invest in the greatest asset we have as a state – our people. That would begin with education, since it is the driving force of so many other parts of our state budget. Early childhood education specifically makes financial sense due to its proven high return on investment. The legislature and Governor increased funding for early childhood education last year, but fully funding universal access to prekindergarten programs will move us a long way towards improving education outcomes and decreasing our achievement gap.

Finally, I would conform our state tax code to match federal tax changes that occurred in Congress last year, such as increasing the working family credit that helps low-income working families. This simplifies our tax system and focuses on relief for low and middle income Minnesotans.

Some people define the public good narrowly to include only public safety and roads. Others define the public good more broadly, to include health care for all, economic security for all, education for everyone at all levels, etc. How do you define the public good? How would you decide what should be included in the public good and what should not?

I believe in a broad definition of the public good which ensures all citizens are safe and have an opportunity to succeed. While a fair criminal justice system is important so that all individuals are safe from violence in their homes and communities, the public good extends beyond basic public safety and meeting the bare minimum of food and shelter. To truly have an opportunity to succeed all individuals, regardless of their race, gender, religion, or sexual orientation, need a high quality public education. Again, this means providing high quality and accessible early childhood education programs, providing safe and stable public schools that allow all students to be met at their level and moved into higher learning, and a postsecondary education system that supports both traditional and nontraditional learners so that all can effectively and appropriately engage in Minnesotaʼs economy.

Candidate questionnaire – Beth Fraser

In addition to our candidate forum on March 9 (if you missed it, you can hear a recording on Tim Nelson’s blog), we sent a second round of questions to the 64B candidates. Here are Beth Fraser’s answers.Fraser

What do you see as the main issues concerning the residents of House District 64B and how would you address those issues?

After spending the last 3 months talking with delegates in the district, there are three issues that come up most frequently:

  1. The need to provide quality, affordable education at all levels–early childhood, K-12, and higher education. I will be a strong advocate for investing in each of these areas to ensure that all Minnesota students have the tools to succeed and no child starts behind in kindergarten.
  2. The need to protect our environment and ensure that the next generation has clean air and water. I will fight against Poly Met and for policies that move us towards a state with good jobs, a clean environment, and a green economy.
  3. The need for someone to continue Rep. Michael Paymar’s legacy as a champion for common sense gun laws, such as closing the gun show loophole and preventing those with orders for protection against them from having firearms. I am the only candidate in the race who is running on continuing Michael’s work in this arena.

How do the interests of 64B differ from the interests of Minnesota as a whole, and how would you balance those interests?

While there are many similarities and our fates are inked, different places in Minnesota need attention in specific ways. Local issues are part of the mix at the Capitol and I will advocate strongly for 64B on issues of unique importance in this compact urban community and for the priority of those needs, such as cleanup and redevelopment of the Ford Plant. I will also listen and consider carefully issues experienced by other parts of the state such as different land use needs, transportation options, education funding mechanisms and health delivery challenges. This approach builds a sense of trust, understanding and reciprocity with other legislators which improves both the likelihood of success for our local needs and balance for our statewide community. Most importantly, however, I would evaluate all decisions through a prism of progressive values consistent with the strong leaders who have served us in the past.

Can you describe skills or experience that you possess that will help you succeed in a highly partisan atmosphere? Would your answer change if the DFL is no longer in the majority?

After 17 years of working at the Capitol, testifying hundreds of times and working with legislators on both sides of the aisle, I have learned how to advocate strongly for progressive goals and yet figure out what is achievable in the moment, and to argue passionately without alienating the other side. I have built strong working relationships with both DFL and Republican legislators, which is the key to establishing the trust necessary to be effective and move past partisanship. For example, even in the middle of leading the fight at the Capitol against the Photo ID constitutional amendment, I worked with Republican legislators who controlled both bodies of the legislature to get other election bills passed, making progress in areas in which we could find agreement. The keys to being an effective legislator are the same regardless of who is in charge. These skills and relationships have allowed me to get legislation passed and signed into law in 13 of the last 17 years and will allow me to be an effective legislator my first year in office.

If you win this election, you will be filling a seat that has been occupied by some of the most respected leaders in the Minnesota House. Identify three concrete accomplishments of yours that demonstrate the type of leader and state representative that you will be.

I won passage of and then designed Minnesota’s Safe at Home program, which is now the strongest program of its kind in the country for survivors of domestic violence and stalking. I have been a dogged advocate for the program and its participants, convincing other state agencies to change their practices to protect participants and going back to the legislature again and again to expand the legal protections for program participants.

I led the fight at the State Capitol against the Photo ID constitutional amendment, testifying in committee on behalf of Secretary of State Ritchie. I laid out the potential consequences of passing the amendment (including the potential impact on nearly 1 million Minnesotans from ending same day registration and absentee balloting by mail) — information the Vote No campaign used to defeat the amendment.

I brokered a compromise between two diametrically opposed groups by bringing together representatives from the disability community and the Minnesota Association of Townships along with legislators from both sides of the aisle, for months of discussion to explore options related to a requirement to use accessible voting equipment in township elections.

I negotiated with Representative Dan McElroy (R-Burnsville) on the last day of the legislative session in 1999 to decide what would be included in the nation’s strongest accountability law for corporate subsidies.

Our state’s population is aging and with those demographic changes come increased costs for long term care. What steps would you take to address those changes, and how should they be paid for?

The solutions are multiple; all primarily involve recognizing that there is a need for a variety of care environments to meet a variety of care needs. Community settings cost less than institutions and maintain higher functioning longer.

I support the 5% Campaign Minnesota to increase the funding for direct care professionals as well as home and community based services. The 5% Campaign will increase the availability and consistency of health care workers in the long term care field as well as provide for fair wages.

Fortunately part of the answer has begun to be realized with the Affordable Care Act. A recent GAO report (1/16/14) confirmed other research findings that indicate as people begin to receive benefits from Retirement Social Security, those who have had access to regular affordable health care have lower health costs in the first five years of Social Security than those without prior continuous health care coverage. If our health care needs are met as we age, the costs of the Long Term Care system are reduced.

After several legislative cycles, Minnesota is forecast to have a budget surplus as a result of increased taxes and an improved economy. Stakeholders are calling for a variety of responses, including increasing the state’s budget reserve, spending the money on a variety of initiatives, and repealing some of the B2B taxes. How do you believe the state should respond?

I think the state should look at splitting the projected surplus three ways. First we should set aside a large portion of the funds for the state’s budget reserve to ensure that the state can weather economic downturns without the need for budget cuts or delaying payments to local governments or schools. To the extent that the projected surplus is anticipated to continue into future years (is not just one-time money), I agree with the House DFL’s proposal to enact federal tax conformity, including items such as adoption assistance, and to eliminate some of the business to business taxes. Finally, remaining funds should be invested in early childhood education, since this has been shown to have the best return on investment and did not receive the funding that it should have during the last legislative session. In addition, the legislature should take this opportunity to insist that the state go back to an honest accounting approach and require that inflation be included on both sides of the ledger — in both projected revenues and expenditures.

Some people define the public good narrowly to include only public safety and roads. Others define the public good more broadly, to include health care for all, economic security for all, education for everyone at all levels, etc. How do you define the public good? How would you decide what should be included in the public good and what should not?

Minnesota is one community and what affects one of us affects us all. I define the public good broadly. As Paul Wellstone said, government is about the improvement of people’s lives. Government’s role is to ensure that everyone has access to a decent life — high quality, affordable education at all levels (early-childhood, K-12 and higher ed), living wage jobs with safe workplace conditions, access to health care, including reproductive choices, safe and healthy food, clean air and water, safe communities, infrastructure for transportation and transit, equal protections under the law for all regardless of their race, gender, sexual orientation, disability and age. The public good does not include the imposition of any one group’s moral or religious views onto the population as a whole. I will fight against efforts to limit a woman’s right to choose, limitations on the LGBT community, and for the repeal of old “blue laws,” like prohibitions on Sunday liquor sales.

Candidate questionnaire – Dave Pinto

In addition to our candidate forum on March 9 (if you missed it, you can hear a recording on Tim Nelson’s blog), we sent a second round of questions to the 64B candidates. Here are Dave Pinto’s answers.Pinto

What do you see as the main issues concerning the residents of House District 64B and how would you address those issues?

The central question facing our district is how to make our community – and our state – vibrant, prosperous, and healthy for everyone. That involves so many components. It means economic opportunity and security – fair work at living wages, safe and affordable housing for families and seniors, a transportation system that works for everyone, and truly universal health care. It means protecting our precious environment, so that we all can have a healthy present and future. It means ending gun violence, with safety at home, at school, at work, and in the community. And it means setting up our kids for success in life – a solid start in the very earliest years, followed by a strong E-­‐16 education system, with stable and sufficient funding up the line. These are the issues that our Community Conversations have been built around. I’ll continue to listen to your thoughts about them and seek your involvement to help make them happen.

How do the interests of 64B differ from the interests of Minnesota as a whole, and how would you balance those interests?

Our district does have interests that differ with those of districts in other parts of the state. Our density, for example, can support public transit systems that may be impractical in much of greater Minnesota. And it’s appropriate to recognize that we’re part of a city, a county, and in turn an east metro region. Greater strength in each of these communities – more economic opportunity, closer transportation links, support for parks and open space, and much more – has a particular benefit for the residents of our district. As a longtime resident with long service on local boards and community groups, I’ll gladly champion those benefits. Still, the position is “State” Representative. The person who fills it will be responsible for the state’s interests as a whole. And the residents of this district, in particular, expect no less from their representative. A state that is vibrant, prosperous, and healthy for every Minnesotan will, ultimately, be best for the residents of our district too.

Can you describe skills or experience that you possess that will help you succeed in a highly partisan atmosphere? Would your answer change if the DFL is no longer in the majority?

Success in a partisan atmosphere requires strategic thinking and relentless organizing, both inside and outside of the Capitol. My work for policy change has required that kind of strategic thinking. I’ve long participated in SD 64’s Flying Squads to districts in the suburbs as well as in greater Minnesota, to protect and encourage legislators who are our allies. Success in this work also requires strong listening skills that engender trust. In my role at the Ramsey County Attorney’s Office, I led a task force of defense attorneys, domestic violence advocates, judges, and others to develop a new policy on a highly-­‐contested issue relating to no-­‐contact orders. Through patient, collaborative work, I crafted a proposal that earned unanimous support from the group.

The fact is that as a prosecutor of crimes of violence against women and children, I’m well accustomed to working – and persuading – under immense pressure. That background, plus my training and work in business and economics, will give me a particular credibility with those who don’t automatically share our progressive views.

If you win this election, you will be filling a seat that has been occupied by some of the most respected leaders in the Minnesota House. Identify three concrete accomplishments of yours that demonstrate the type of leader and state representative that you will be.

(1) As a prosecutor, I’ve led groundbreaking efforts to change how our state treats sex-­‐trafficking victims, and my work fighting violence against women and children resulted in a first-­‐ever recognition from the MN Coalition for Battered Women – a “Community Ally” award for inspiring leadership. (2) As a private attorney, I succeeded in forcing a suburban high school to stop discriminating against a GLBT student group – the first time in our region of the country that federal law had been used in that way. (3) Even as a high school student, I founded the school’s first-­‐ever recycling program, enlisting students and teachers to live out their environmental values through practical, innovative action. These accomplishments demonstrate initiative, strategic thinking, energy, and most importantly a lifelong commitment to social justice and to social change.

Our state’s population is aging and with those demographic changes come increased costs for long term care. What steps would you take to address those changes, and how should they be paid for?

Managing what state demographers have dubbed a “tsunami” is going to require a multi-­‐pronged approach. We’re fortunate that so many of our seniors are entering their retirement years in better health than their predecessors. Preventative care and a greater attention to wellness in our community will help them to stay healthy and independent for as long as possible. Still – as we discussed at our recent Community Conversation on senior issues – with independent living comes the danger of isolation, at great cost to the senior and eventually our community. At the Community Conversation, we discussed a number of ideas to combat this, including boosting door-­‐to-­‐door transportation options and providing better support from neighborhood groups. When seniors enter long-­‐term care, we need to protect them and their families from debilitating costs. We need to support caregivers by making sure state funding streams are sufficient and stable, which may require increasing the progressive state income tax. And we need to work more closely with doctors, nurses, and other health care providers to make sure we’re spending our health care dollars wisely.

After several legislative cycles, Minnesota is forecast to have a budget surplus as a result of increased taxes and an improved economy. Stakeholders are calling for a variety of responses, including increasing the state’s budget reserve, spending the money on a variety of initiatives, and repealing some of the B2B taxes. How do you believe the state should respond?

The first priority is increasing budget reserves. It is a fact of state budgeting that tax revenues dip precisely when the demand for state services increases. Ensuring adequate budget reserves is the responsible way to ensure a strong safety net when the economy changes. Budget reserves can seem dry and academic, but through them we uphold our fundamental obligation to take care of one another when times get tough.

A second significant priority is increasing funding to early childhood education. Even with a significant boost in such funding last session, less than 10 percent of low-­‐income children in the state have support for high-­‐quality pre-­‐K programs. Research shows that the returns on this investment would be staggeringly high, with positive repercussions for our public budget – not to mention the positive impact on the lives of these children and their families – for years to come.

Some people define the public good narrowly to include only public safety and roads. Others define the public good more broadly, to include health care for all, economic security for all, education for everyone at all levels, etc. How do you define the public good? How would you decide what should be included in the public good and what should not?

The public good is about a shared, common good – the knowledge that mutual support will lead to mutual success (“we all do better”). It’s about our vision for creating a healthy, prosperous, just society. That vision requires giving people the tools they need to succeed (a good education, reliable health care, safe housing), laying the infrastructure for growth (efficient transportation, reliable clean energy, a skilled workforce), and being ever-­‐vigilant about dismantling unjust structures of privilege that create barriers for members of our community. The public good requires acknowledging our interconnectedness – our mutual dependence – and using it as a source of strength and energy.