On Tuesday evening, we hosted our third and final candidate forum with the Children’s Defense Fund – MN at First Presbyterian Church of Stillwater. Earlier this month we organized forums in Hawley andFaribault.
We had great turnout in Stillwater—fifty-six concerned citizens came to hear Senate District 39 candidate Julie Bunn, House District 39A candidate John Bruno, and House District 39B candidate Tom DeGree discuss timely issues surrounding child poverty in Minnesota. We are grateful for our friends at First Presbyterian, whose dedicated work made the evening go smoothly. Our moderator was Rev. Cader Howard, the new pastor at First Presbyterian who brought with him his experience hosting candidate forums at his former church in Atlanta.
CDF-MN and JRLC staff again gave presentations painting a local picture of child poverty, establishing the link between toxic stress and early childhood brain development, and laying out the parts of the Family Economic Security Act. In Washington and Chisago Counties, where District 39 lies, child poverty rates are actually lower than the state average. Kara Arzamendia of CDF-MN and one of the candidates both pointed out, however, that in places where poor families are fewer and more isolated, poverty tends to be more hidden.
Whether they cited Early Head Start, ECFE, or childcare subsidies, Bunn, Bruno, and DeGree all agreed that programs that help children early in life are crucial. The three candidates also fielded audience questions on the connection between the cost of healthcare and poverty and ways to keep highly mobile homeless children and youth in the same school.
Check out photos from the Stillwater forum on our Facebook page and a video here! As we enter the final days before the election, we hope voters across Minnesota will remember the 192,000 children among us who live in poverty and who cannot vote themselves.
- Eleanor Glewwe