In less than two weeks Republicans and Democrats head to the polls for the Aug. 14 primary to pare down the crowded field in the new Fourth Congressional District.
The field has five candidates: two Republicans and three Democrats, including incumbent Fourth District Rep. Betty McCollum, D-St. Paul. The Democrats in the primary field are McCollum, Brian Stalboerger and former Maplewood Mayor Diana Longrie.
Part two of the Gazette’s two-part series on the Fourth Congressional District primary looks at the Democrats. The Gazette asked each candidate the following question:
- Why did you choose to run?
- What makes you a good fit for the position?
- What makes you a good fit for this district?
- What are the top three most important issues of your campaign?
- Why should people choose you over the other candidate(s)?
- How would you work across the aisle with other representatives in Congress?
- What do you feel you have to do to introduce yourself to Stillwater?
What follows are each candidate’s responses.
“I feel like the candidates the Democratic Party puts up for endorsement lean too far to the left and in addition, in this primary I want to demonstrate a pro-life voice within the Democratic Party
“I’ve lived in the Fourth District for a majority of my life, spending 12 years in Woodbury and St. Paul. I’m in touch with a lot of regular people and I have a lot of good ideas for new solutions.
His ideas include creating new paradigms to prevent jobs from going overseas and preventing automation to continue to have management jobs and creating industry consolidation. He also supports the idea of a shared profit corporation to combat tax rates on the middle class.
“I’m a St. Paul and Woodbury resident and I’ve worked with people across the district I plan to spend as much time as possible in Minnesota hearing directly from the people. I’m not one of the lobbyists and I seek to serve by being available to those people as much as I can.”
The most important issues of his campaign are:
- “The pro-life issue in the party as I stated earlier. I think Democrats have gone to the extremes and they may not trust the Republicans but they don’t trust abortion on demand either. I want to provide another voice to protect women and children.
- “We need to protect the U.S. government because partisan bickering is driving us off a cliff we’re losing the strength of the U.S. dollar and our spending could sink our economy so we need to get the spending under control.
- “We need to create a bipartisan solution to deal with long running disputes
“I provide a new vision and rock solid support of the constitution to solve problems. I want to push questions to a local level. Most people will tell you that we’re voting in the most important election in our lifetimes. More and more decisions that have profound effects on our lives have moved to the top tier of government. I think we need to keep the original design of our country to keep our ideas at a local level, and it’s a lot easier to take suggestions to your city council than to your state senator. Returning the power to the people will lower the stakes in D.C. it will stop the bickering and develop more power for individual decisions.
“I will operate as a free agent and I won’t be bound to support any one particular interest group. I will follow the good ideas that we create around. I admire Ron Paul’s way that he’s operated in congress. He may partner up with Republicans on one issue and then cross the aisle on issues that he feels are correct. I will not let party loyalty keep me from promoting right and constitutional ideas.“
“In the two weeks I have left to visit Stillwater, and I know I will visit but I’m on shoe string budget and I’m not very well connected to contacts there, the best way for people to get to know me right now is to promote my website: www.votebrianmn.com”
“There are a number of issues where I differ from the incumbent and where I feel my views are more in line with the DFL ongoing platform -such as my support for single payer healthcare (Nationally funded, community based comprehensive and affordable health care for all). Additionally, I would be supporting the EPA efforts to reduce carbonemissions of coal fired power plants rather than coming to the defense of Xcel as the incumbent has done. I do not support fracking. I do not support sulfide mining.
Longrie cited skills she developed as the first female mayor of Maplewood and her experience as an attorney with a scientific background, (majors in chemistry and biology from Hamline University) that she believes will serve her well in congress. These skills include negotiation, communication, persuasion, analytical thinking and organization. She cited a knowledge of many subjects, the ability to make people feel at ease and mentorship skills. She said she’s been described as a “smart cookie who cares about people.” She’s also had experience as a teacher on an international level in China where she taught English and serves as a TV Talk show host and producer.
“Previously, I served for six years on the Board for St. Croix Boys’ Choir and I had my law office in Woodbury. Further, as a practicing attorney, I have any number of cases and client matters in Washington County. I also have two public access TV programs cable cast through Valley Access and channel 14 which speak to issues concerning citizens.
- Jobs. We must develop homegrown, innovative, industries based on renewable energy, bioscience, technology and neo-manufacturing.”
- Congressional courage. Affordable, accessible healthcare for all, not laws that grow the big money health insurance administrative machinery. Decrease across the board spending on warfare — don’t just “cherry pick” the “easy” targets like NASCAR and military bands.
- Transparency, openness and accountability. Audit the Federal Reserve (Incumbent voted no); expand FOIA (freedom of information act) to apply more extensively to members of Congress. Support U.S. Department of Justice investigations of fraudulent mortgage and foreclosure practices, deny broad immunity for potential wrongdoing by mortgage servicers, and compensate victims of fraudulent behavior.
“As a former mayor, I understand the local issues faced by citizens and elected officials alike and the impact of unfunded mandates, out-of-touch politicians or unworkable public policy upon their day-to-day activities. I have an open door policy. I will not be telling citizens or the press to turn off their cameras in my congressional offices as the current incumbent’s staff has done. I have a commitment to transparency and will release more information about my dealings with lobbyists than FOIA requires or more than the current incumbent provides. As an attorney, I have the skills to aid in reforming the income tax code.”
“Be open and receptive to new ideas that come from the grassroots citizenry. Find common ground rather than placing an emphasis on ‘Scoring Points.’ Put people before politics – rather than giving IOUs to special interests, Wall Street bankers, and health insurance big wigs.”
“Currently, I have two public access TV programs cable cast through Valley Access, channel 14 which speak to issues concerning citizens. I would continue to reach out to the Chamber of Commerce. I would attend local meetings of city and county elected officials.”
For more information on Diana Longrie visit her website.
U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum (incumbent)
“In this election my focus is on strengthening the economy so middle class families and small businesses have the security they need to be successful. Seniors need to know that I will protect Social Security and Medicare. Quality K-12 education and access to affordable higher education are also important issues for district residents and me. It’s been an honor to receive the trust of Fourth District voters for my work in Congress and I again am asking them for their support.”
“The East Metro is my home and it always has been. I grew up in South St. Paul, raised my children in North St. Paul, and I now live in St. Paul. Throughout my public career I’ve worked with local elected, business, and civic leaders, regardless of political party to solve problems, bring people together, and keep our communities strong. My goal is to continue to work as a partner to keep the families, businesses and communities in the East Metro strong and vibrant.”
“Our nation is facing big issues that require Congress to make tough choices, smart cuts, and even smarter investments. My record of fiscal responsibility, investing in job creation and economic development, and fighting for middle class families reflect the views of the majority of constituents I have the privilege of serving.”
- Strengthening the economy and job creation with smart federal investments that spur private sector growth.
- Protecting Social Security and Medicare so seniors can retire with dignity
- Reducing the federal deficit through smart spending cuts, including cuts to wasteful Pentagon spending, and ending extra tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires.
“I have a record of fighting for middle class families, working to ensure our children have great public schools and quality healthcare, and protecting Social Security and Medicare for our seniors. If some voters want a candidate to protect tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires or increase wasteful spending, I won’t be their choice.”
“I have a long record of working across the aisle with Republican colleagues. Only two weeks ago I worked with a conservative Republican from Georgia to co-sponsor an amendment to cut wasteful Pentagon spending that received over 200 bipartisan votes. I will always reach out to Republicans who want to work collaboratively to find consensus and compromise on common sense solutions that will move our country forward.”
“The Stillwater community is a wonderful addition to the 4th Congressional District. I plan to campaign hard during the election across the district to earn the support of voters. Stillwater should expect my priorities and representation in Congress to be almost completely opposite from the current representative. I am going to continue to put the needs of families, seniors and our children ahead of Tea Party ideology. I will also put an emphasis on constituent services and working in partnership with local leaders.”
For more information on McCollum visit her website.