Meet the candidates: Beth Fraser

FraserWe here at the SD64 DFL thought that our dear readers (that’s you) might be interested in meeting some of the candidates for the 64B DFL endorsement. We’ve asked all the candidates to answer some questions, and we’ll be posting their answers here all week for your reading pleasure. Let’s get to know Beth Fraser.

Tell us a bit about yourself. Where are you from, how long have you lived in District 64B?

I moved to Minnesota nearly 20 years ago through Lutheran Volunteer Corps to work as a community organizer in the Jordan neighborhood in north Minneapolis.

I decided to stay and adopted Saint Paul as my home city because I like living in a vibrant city with local culture, independent restaurants and coffee shops to explore, friendly neighborhoods, progressive politics, and a welcoming LGBT community. I have worked in Saint Paul for 18 years, lived here for over 11 and purchased my townhouse in Mac-Groveland neighborhood a year and a half ago.

What is your community involvement? What is your current job and other volunteer commitments?

For the past 19 years I have worked on issues of social and economic justice. I spent 8 years leading policy work for the Minnesota Alliance for Progressive Action (now TakeAction MN) and the last 7 years serving with Secretary of State Mark Ritchie, where I am currently the Deputy Secretary of State. In that office I am the point person in fighting against voter suppression efforts, expanding voting rights, and overseeing Safe at Home, a program for survivors of domestic violence.

I have earned the reputation of building strong coalitions and being a champion for progressive legislation. My hard work and determination has paid off in tangible ways through getting legislation passed to make it easier for eligible voters to cast ballots, building the strongest address confidentiality program for survivors of domestic violence of its kind in the country, and passing the strongest corporate subsidy accountability laws in the nation.

Why are you running for office? What is the most pressing issue that you would like to tackle in the 2015 Legislative Session?

I am running for the State House in order to continue the work I’ve done on issues of social and economic justice for the past 17 years.

Having been an advocate at the Capitol from the non-profit and government sectors, I bring the experience to do the job from day one. I’ve learned how to build coalitions and push hard for progressive legislation. I know how to strenuously advocate for our long-term goals without alienating the other side. I have experience working with those who approach issues from different perspectives and finding common ground.

The most important issue facing the 2015 legislature is the passage of a state budget, based upon fair taxation, which reflects our progressive values and invests in our children, seniors and infrastructure.

Would you be willing to abide by the endorsement of the DFL Senate District?

Yes.

What is your favorite thing to do during a weekend in St. Paul?

I love picking up groceries and having friends over for dinner and games. I enjoy exploring neighborhoods on my bike and sampling the fare at small restaurants and coffee shops. It’s fun to catch a Saints game at least once each summer and go to community festivals, whether it’s the Winter Carnival or a summer jazz festival or art show. I have season tickets to the Minnesota RollerGirls at Roy Wilkins Auditorium and I coach a women’s softball team that plays on Sunday afternoons at Dunning Field.

Got your own questions for Beth Fraser? Ask her at bethforhouse@gmail.com.

Meet the candidates: Dave Pinto

PintoWe here at the SD64 DFL thought that our dear readers (that’s you) might be interested in meeting some of the candidates for the 64B DFL endorsement. We’ve asked all the candidates to answer some questions, and we’ll be posting their answers here all week for your reading pleasure. Let’s get to know Dave Pinto.

Tell us a bit about yourself. Where are you from, how long have you lived in District 64B?

I grew up in Falcon Heights and attended the Roseville public schools. I graduated with honors from Harvard University, then worked in the Clinton White House and for the late Congressman Bruce Vento. After earning degrees in law and business from the University of Virginia, I returned home to Minnesota. I practiced law for several years with Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi, where I was recognized for providing free legal services to needy individuals and organizations.

My wife Abby, our two sons, and I have lived in Highland Park for more than a decade. I’ve been an active member of the Senate District 64 DFL ever since, attending meetings and countless doorknocks and phone banks to support progressive causes and candidates. I teach 6th grade religious education at St. Peter Claver Catholic Church and am a member of AFSCME Council 5.

What is your community involvement? What is your current job and other volunteer commitments?

I’m a prosecutor with the Ramsey County Attorney’s Office, specializing in crimes of domestic and sexual violence, particularly against children. I’ve led a team of attorneys fighting domestic violence involving children and now focus on juvenile sex trafficking – both prosecuting traffickers and working for policy change to protect kids and hold traffickers accountable. I’ve done policy work at the Capitol both on domestic violence and on sex trafficking, and am proud to have been honored recently with an inaugural “Inspire Award” from the Minnesota Coalition for Battered Women for my work fighting domestic violence.

My community involvement outside of work includes past service on the Highland District Council, the Minnesota Academic Excellence Foundation, and Partners for Violence Prevention, and current service on the St. Paul Long-Term Capital Improvement Budget Committee, in addition to much volunteer work for progressive causes and candidates.

Why are you running for office? What is the most pressing issue that you would like to tackle in the 2015 Legislative Session?

My progressive agenda for Minnesota includes decent work for fair pay, universal health care, secure and affordable housing for families and seniors, a healthy environment, smart transportation, and equity in opportunity. Underlying all of these is the fundamental belief that we take care of one another.

The way I’ve lived out this belief in my work is through advocating for and protecting children. This has been gratifying. But I’ve realized how much more we can do to truly advocate for kids and work for a better future in Minnesota:

▪ Investing in both early childhood education and out-of-school opportunities
▪ Moving forward on school safety and protections against bullying
▪ Fully funding “safe harbor” options to prevent sexual exploitation
▪ Closing equity gaps in health and education

If we champion these and other causes for children – in 2015 and beyond – we will create a better future for us all.

Do you plan to abide by the endorsement?

Yes. I have a long history of involvement with the DFL party in our neighborhood. I’ve abided by the endorsement in the past and intend to do so again now.

What is your favorite thing to do during a weekend in St. Paul?

Our family loves to ride our bikes around town. One favorite destination is the Highland Farmer’s Market (near the Barnes & Noble) – it has nice selection in a relaxed atmosphere, and the kids enjoy the samples! Lynden’s Soda Fountain (Randolph & Hamline) is another favorite stop; the malts are incredible. We also have a fun time playing basketball at the JCC, and continue to push ourselves toward the day when we can all climb the “Davern Hill” from St. Paul Ave up to Edgcumbe.

Got your own questions for Dave Pinto? Ask him at dave@davepinto.com.

Meet the candidates: Matthew Bergeron

BergeronWe here at the SD64 DFL thought that our dear readers (that’s you) might be interested in meeting some of the candidates for the 64B DFL endorsement. We’ve asked all the candidates to answer some questions, and we’ll be posting their answers here all week for your reading pleasure. Let’s meet Matthew Bergeron.

Tell us a bit about yourself. Where are you from, how long have you lived in District 64B?

I’ve lived in Senate District 64 for almost ten years, but my connection to the area goes back decades. My mother and father met while attending St. Kate’s and St. Thomas and my father spent over twenty years as a UFCW member and union steward at the Highland Park Lunds. I’ll always remember the football games at O’Shaughnessy Stadium with my father. While I was raised in Mounds View, the Mac-Groveland-Highland Park area always felt like a second home to me.

I moved here to attend Macalester College where I earned a Bachelor’s degree in History and Religious Studies. After graduation I stayed in the area and attended William Mitchell College of Law. I took a leave of absence to work on Speaker Thissen’s 2010 gubernatorial campaign. After the campaign, I finished law school while working at a small general practice law firm and later at a larger firm’s government relations department.

What is your community involvement? What is your current job and other volunteer commitments?

I currently serve as committee administrator for both the Health and Human Services Policy Committee as well as the Select Committee on Living Wage Jobs in the Minnesota House of Representatives DFL Caucus. I work with a number of legislators, government agencies, and advocates on a broad range of policy issues including MNsure (the state’s health insurance exchange) and the proposal to increase Minnesota’s minimum wage to $9.50 by 2015.

I have been involved in local DFL politics for nearly 10 years both in the northern suburbs and here in St. Paul. I became an active member of the SD 64 DFL in 2009, serving as a precinct chair and senate district director.

I volunteer as a mentor with College Possible, a St. Paul-based organization that works to help low income and minority high school students navigate the college applications process and supports them as they transition into college life.

Why are you running for office? What is the most pressing issue that you would like to tackle in the 2015 Legislative Session?

I am running for the Minnesota House of Representatives because I believe my experiences as a lobbyist and legislative staffer make me uniquely suited to take the progressive vision we share as DFLers and effectively turn our community’s aspirations into legislative progress. I have spent years working at the Capitol as a private sector advocate, as a representative of local governments, and as a legislative staffer. I am prepared to step in on day one and delve into the important challenges facing Minnesota families.

In 2015 I will focus my efforts on expanding access to basic sliding fee scale child care and ensuring that workers have paid sick time that can be used to care for their loved ones. I will also work to ensure that the state honors its responsibilities to its elderly and disabled by paying those who care for them a living wage.

Would you be willing to abide by the endorsement of the DFL Senate District?

Yes. I am seeking and will abide by the DFL endorsement.

What is your favorite thing to during a weekend in St. Paul?

On any given weekend my wife Ashley and I can be found grocery shopping at the St. Paul Farmers’ Market, having brunch at one of the many great restaurants in the neighborhood, then enjoying coffee and conversation in a locally-owned coffee shop. Life can be so busy at times, one of the reasons I enjoy living in St. Paul is its propensity to help me slow down and appreciate my surroundings.

I like that in St. Paul, and particularly in the Mac-Groveland and Highland Park neighborhoods, I can’t stop in the grocery store for milk, swing by a boutique for a birthday card, or grab lunch with a friend without running into someone I know. I love the welcoming sense of community we have here, and on the weekends I enjoy getting out in that community more than anything.

Got your own questions for Matthew Bergeron? Ask him at mwbergeron@gmail.com.

Meet the candidates: Greta Bergstrom

BergstromWe here at the SD64 DFL thought that our dear readers (that’s you) might be interested in meeting some of the candidates for the 64B DFL endorsement. We’ve asked all the candidates to answer some questions, and we’ll be posting their answers here all week for your reading pleasure. Let’s get to know Greta Bergstrom.

Tell us a bit about yourself. Where are you from, how long have you lived in District 64B?

I’ve lived in Senate District 64 most of my life, growing up on Wellesley Avenue, a half a block from Nativity Catholic Church. My parents still live there. I attended Groveland Park Elementary, Highland Jr. High and graduated from Highland Sr. High in 1988. I graduated from Macalester College in 1992 majoring in Political Science. Following college, I spent 2 years in Washington D.C. working at a lobbying law firm and volunteering as a guardian ad litem for the D.C. Superior Court helping at-risk children. But as “all politics is local,” I returned to SD64 in 2004. My husband Eric and I met each other working on Mike Freeman’s 1998 campaign for Governor. Following that race, I went on to build a career in political communications and marketing. Eric, our children Evan (9) and Lily (8) have lived in our home on Sargent Avenue for the past 10 years.

What is your community involvement? What is your current job and other volunteer commitments?

I have been the Communications Director for TakeAction Minnesota since 2009, working on issues of economic and social justice including defeating the voter ID amendment in 2012, expanding health care access and raising the wage for low-income workers. For the past 25 years, I have been active in the DFL party, both here in SD64 as well as statewide. In 1992, I managed former State Representative Howard Orenstein’s re-election campaign while finishing college and working on Bill Clinton’s first campaign for President. During the 1990’s I served on the 4th Congressional District as a director and then as its Chair from 1998-2000, and managed former City Councilmember Jay Benanav’s successful DFL endorsement race. I have formed and led my daughter’s Girl Scout troop and have both been active in the PTA at Randolph Heights Elementary. For the past 5 years, my husband and I have volunteered as Sunday school teachers at our church, House of Hope Presbyterian.

Why are you running for office? What is the most pressing issue that you would like to tackle in the 2015 Legislative Session?

I am committed to advancing issues of economic equity for those in our district and for the State of Minnesota. We have too many disparities in wealth and income that are affecting our district’s middle class families and those that aspire to the middle class. These wealth disparities affect an ever-growing number of children in our schools living in poverty all the way to seniors trying to stay in their homes amid rising property taxes, yet unable to afford quality assisted living housing. We need more legislators at the Capitol leading the charge to close the gaps caused by the chasm between rich and poor, through structural tax reform, expanding access to better quality, family wage jobs and access to health care. I am running for the 64B House seat because I know I am the strongest candidate to tackle these issues at the legislature.

Would you be willing to abide by the endorsement of the DFL Senate District?

Yes I will abide. I wouldn’t waste the time and attention of active SD64 DFLers if I didn’t intend to abide by their endorsement decision. We have far more pressing problems to solve for the people of Minnesota than spending months on a contested DFL primary. We need to use our smarts, time and energies maintaining the DFL House majority and re-electing Governor Dayton and U.S. Senator Al Franken.

What is your favorite thing to during a weekend in St. Paul?

We’re a busy family and on any given weekend we’ll be involved in soccer or baseball practice, neighborhood play dates, grocery shopping, brunch or dinner out at places like the Highland Grill, the Nook and Vina. We like being outside, hiking at Hidden Falls and Crosby Park or swimming at the Highland Pool. Now that the kids are older, we’re also spending more time biking along River Road over the Ford Bridge to Sea Salt (yes, in Minneapolis) in the summer. It’s a great ride for the kids, good food and fun! Now that the snow has set in, we’ll look for opportunities to go ice-skating at Groveland or Edgcumbe Rec Centers or in downtown St. Paul by Rice Park. And of course, sledding down the hill at the Highland Golf Course.

Got your own questions for Greta Bergstrom? Ask her at greta@gretafor64b.com.

Meet the candidates: Matt Freeman

FreemanWe here at the SD64 DFL thought that our dear readers (that’s you) might be interested in meeting some of the candidates for the 64B DFL endorsement. We’ve asked all the candidates to answer some questions, and we’ll be posting their answers here all week for your reading pleasure. Let’s meet Matt Freeman.

Tell us a bit about yourself. Where are you from, how long have you lived in District 64B?

I have lived in Saint Paul for the past 4 years and in this district for the past 3 years – both in the Macalester Groveland neighborhood and in my current home in Highland Park. I was born in Richfield, MN, and am a proud product of our public schools. I am a graduate of Georgetown University in Washington D.C. Professionally, I worked in an early childhood special education classroom and taught civics education to middle and high school students. I also was a progressive organizer, advocating on behalf of our troops to bring an end to the war in Iraq, working to elect President Obama in northern Minnesota, and campaigning in Maine for marriage equality.

Minnesota is home. When I moved back, I chose this community because I love Saint Paul – the unique character of the neighborhoods and the civic engagement of the residents. My girlfriend Nicole and I love being a part of this community.

What is your community involvement? What is your current job and other volunteer commitments?

I work in the Office of Mayor Chris Coleman as the Director of Outreach and Labor Relations and served as Campaign Manager during his successful re-election. Previously, I was the Field and Political Director for US Senator Amy Klobuchar’s re-election, worked in the Minnesota Department of Agriculture, and served as a legislative aide in the Minnesota State Senate.

I have been active in the DFL and progressive causes all my life, working to elect progressive leaders across the state. I was a delegate to the DFL State Convention from SD64 in 2012 and served on the committee to amend CD4’s constitution. Locally, I am proud of my work to help elect Councilmember Chris Tolbert to the City Council.

I volunteer with a variety of organizations including Serving Our Troops, Loaves and Fishes, and Feed My Starving Children. I also work with Georgetown University’s Alumni Admissions Program, interviewing and acting as a liaison for local students interested in attending Georgetown.

Why are you running for office? What is the most pressing issue that you would like to tackle in the 2015 Legislative Session?

Governor Dayton and the DFL Legislature made great progress in 2013 in passing marriage equality, all-day kindergarten, and paying back the money borrowed from schools, but there is important work to still do. We must raise the minimum wage and make it a livable wage. We must address the achievement and opportunity gap in our schools. College is unaffordable for too many in our state. We must change that to ensure it is accessible to all. And we need to carry on the important work of Representative Paymar, especially regarding gun violence and public safety issues.

Mostly, I am excited to hear more from you about what issues you are most passionate about. Nobody is going to work harder than me to listen to and act on behalf of our neighbors.

Would you be willing to abide by the endorsement of the DFL Senate District?

I plan to abide by the endorsement of HD64B and work to earn the support of DFLers who participate in the precinct caucus and the convention.

What is your favorite thing to during a weekend in St. Paul?

When the weather cooperates, Saint Paul is an amazing place to be outside. I enjoy grilling in the backyard with friends and family, hiking by the river, or walking through the neighborhood nearby my home. Taking advantage of our green spaces, I love playing football with friends or volleyball with my sisters– although those activities usually mean I am sore for a couple of days.

I also love eating my way through Saint Paul on the weekend. Close to home, I indulge in the Steak and Pirogues at Highland Grill, Punchinello Salad at Punch Pizza, or a Nookie Supreme at the Nook. When I feel like exploring across the city, I can be found snacking at Hickory Hut, Flamingo Ethiopian Restaurant, Raum Mit Thai, Hmong Village, or El Burrito Mercado. We have so many delicious restaurants and gathering places across our city, I struggle with balancing my old favorites with the new places I still want to try.

Got your own questions for Matt Freeman? Ask him at votemattfreeman@gmail.com.

Meet the candidates: Gloria Zaiger

ZaigerWe here at the SD64 DFL thought that our dear readers (that’s you) might be interested in meeting some of the candidates for the 64B DFL endorsement. We’ve asked all the candidates to answer some questions, and we’ll be posting their answers here all week for your reading pleasure. Tonight we’ll meet Gloria Zaiger.

Tell us a bit about yourself. Where are you from, how long have you lived in District 64B?

I grew up in White Bear Lake, MN, the youngest of 8 children. My father passed away when I was 5, leaving my Mom to raise us alone. We didn’t have a lot of money, and she worked very hard, and it gave me insight into the value of a dollar and the pressing need to raise the minimum wage.
I went to the U of M and got my BS in Wildlife Management in 1987. I have been with my partner Katie for 12 years, and we were thrilled to get married last month. Katie is a teacher in the Minneapolis Public Schools. We have two dogs and two cats. I enjoy geocaching, biking, old black and white movies, the State Fair, and Sunday mornings with my newspaper and coffee.
I have lived in St Paul most of my adult life. We moved to District 64B since 2009.

What is your community involvement? What is your current job and other volunteer commitments?

I have served on the Highland District Council since 2011, and so have worked with businesses moving to Highland, worked with the neighbors impacted by new businesses or changes, worked at Highland Fest, neighborhood clean-ups and more.
In 2007– 08, I served on the Capital Improvement Budget committee, which provides citizen input on capital maintenance proposals, such as street improvements, sewers, libraries, rec centers and other infrastructure.
My partner and I do foster care for the Humane Society and other groups. Recently, we became involved in a program that cares for the pets of domestic violence victims while they find safe housing. I have also done the 3 Day Breast Cancer Walk, joined Code Pink in protests against the war, done river clean ups and buckthorn busts, and fundraisers for various rescue groups.
I work for US Bank as an IT Specialist. I work with programmers and various online systems.

Why are you running for office? What is the most pressing issue that you would like to tackle in the 2015 Legislative Session?

I have long admired Rep. Paymar’s willingness to take on issues that others aren’t talking about, like domestic violence and animal cruelty. I believe that suffering in our community is unacceptable, whether it’s a person trapped in a violent home, or a dog starving in a puppy mill. I want to be a voice for the defense of our woods and water, especially as mining and population growth adds to the pressures on them. There are so many issues I care about, that I must make sure these things are championed in the legislature.
There are many pressing issues, from transportation to gun violence to implementing new health care rules, but if I had to pick one, that would be raising the minimum wage. This has such an impact on people’s lives, and there has already been much work done, so this is somewhere we could see actual results.

Would you be willing to abide by the endorsement of the DFL Senate District?

Absolutely!

What is your favorite thing to during a weekend in St. Paul?

In summer I love hiking the trails at Hidden Falls and Crosby parks, and the trails along the river below Mississippi River Blvd. In the winter, the Winter Carnival is awesome, with the ice sculptures and fireworks. Fun fact – the first year they had the Winter Carnival geocaching contest, I won the prize! The prize was a behind the scenes tour of the polar bear exhibit at Como Zoo. I got to be within a few feet of those amazing animals. Also, many nights we walk to the Village for dinner and a movie. The Highland and Grandview Theaters are gems!

Got your own questions for Gloria Zaiger? Ask her at zaigerforhouse@gmail.com.