The League of Women Voters event, moderated by Grant resident Liz Nordling, touched on several topics, though job growth and bolstering the Minnesota economy were common themes throughout. The Republican- and DFL-endorsed candidates for Senate District 53 and House Districts 53A and 53B attended.
Below are the responses from the House District 53B candidates. Republican incumbent Andrea Kieffer faces DFLer Ann Marie Metzger.
Related: Lillie and Kent: Woodbury Candidate Forum for Senate District 53
Related: Ward and Cunningham: Woodbury Candidate Forum for House District 53A
Kieffer said that when she was first elected, she wanted to focus on jobs and the economy, and listed her work on related committees in the state House. She said she will continue to hold listening sessions to gather feedback from residents.
Metzger noted her years as a volunteer and community activist, and said the state should work to strengthen the middle class and balance the budget. Education is also a priority for Metzger.
Kieffer supports requiring voters to show ID at the polls.
In talks with union leaders, who she said aren’t her biggest supporters, Kieffer said not one said they are opposed to having to show ID at the polls.
Metzger said Minnesota is a leader in voter turnout.
“This amendment would turn us backwards,” she said, and many have expressed their worry about being able to vote if it passes.
Also calling a shutdown a last resort, Metzger said her opponent voted to cut costs by reducing access to public health care for Minnesotans.
“That’s not the way to balance the budget,” she said.
Republicans urged the governor to pass a “lights-on bill” to provide essential services while the Legislature worked on the budget, Kieffer said.
“The governor wanted the shutdown, that was it,” she said.
“I think we’re taxed enough,” Kieffer said.
The state must reign in its spending, she said, and work to generate jobs that will boost the tax base while not unduly burdening business and property owners.
Minnesota must keep its taxes “low and competitive,” Kieffer said.
Generating additional revenue on via property taxes is “unfair,” Metzger said, and it’s a poor strategy to borrow from future generations.
Kieffer said she has no problems with unions as long as workers have the option of joining or declining. She’s opposed to forced unionization.
Metzger said she doesn’t support Minnesota becoming a right-to-work state, and said collective bargaining is a “human right.”
Limiting unions wouldn’t be good for the economy, she said.
“We shouldn’t be engraving discrimination into our constitution,” Metzger said.
If the amendment passes, it would be difficult to change it later, she said, and the state shouldn’t tell segments of the population that “you just don’t belong.”
Keiffer said she hasn’t taken a position on the matter, but noted that state statute already defines marriage as being between one man and one woman, and she will let the voters decide.
Kieffer, who noted her work on House education committees, said the state has done well to use funds better, and improve access to post-secondary education and scholarships.
Metzger chastised the state’s use of school-funding shifts to balance the budget and said Kieffer voted to cut funding for early and higher education.
The state has been heading in the wrong direction, Metzger said.
She said Kieffer touts the importance of jobs and the economy, yet the Legislature insisted on discussing voter ID and the marriage amendment.
She said she would focus on education and health care and help the middle class “grow and thrive.”
Kieffer said she wished events like Tuesday night’s forum would happen outside the election season, and added that she will continue to listen to her constituents. She encouraged people to contact her.
“I strive to find consensus and common-sense solutions,” Kieffer said.