Last Saturday we co-hosted our second candidate forum with the Children’s Defense Fund – MN. This time we headed down to the beautiful Buckham Memorial Library in Faribault, where Senate District 24 candidate Vicki Jensen, House District 24A candidate John Petersburg, and House District 24B candidate Patti Fritz gathered to discuss how to alleviate child poverty in Minnesota. Our moderator at this forum was Rev. Michael Mandsager, a pastor at First English Lutheran Church in Faribault, which also co-sponsored the event. We had about twenty attendees.
As in Hawley, CDF – MN and JRLC staff gave informative presentations on child poverty statistics, the harmful effects of toxic stress, and the poverty-reducing potential of the Family Economic Security Act. This time, though, the poverty data came from the area in which legislative district 24 is located, which includes parts of Rice, Steele, Waseca, and Dodge Counties and the cities of Faribault, Owatonna, and Waseca.
The forum discussion revealed that the three candidates had many values and concerns in common. Fritz, Jensen, and Petersburg were all supportive of the Family Economic Security Act after JRLC Executive Director Brian Rusche outlined its provisions. All three criticized the last legislature’s decision to borrow from the schools to balance the budget. The candidates also expressed interest in simplifying and streamlining applications for social services, recognizing that burdensome paperwork can violate human dignity.
During the Q & A time, audience members demonstrated their engagement by questioning the candidates on a variety of topics, including whether it was time to raise revenues to strengthen Minnesota’s social safety net and how the candidates would address the plight of homeless children.
- Eleanor Glewwe, Advocacy Associate