Huntley, Hall square off for House seat in District 7A

The primaries are over and the battle is drawn for the Minnesota State House 7A seat between seven-term incumbent Thomas Huntley, DFL, and his challenger Republican Becky Hall.

The primaries are over and the battle is drawn for the Minnesota State House 7A seat between seven-term incumbent Thomas Huntley, DFL, and his challenger Republican Becky Hall.

District 7A includes most of Duluth's east side.

Both candidates are getting out to meet the voters, and both agree that the issues facing Minnesotans in the next term are health care, education and jobs/job training.

The state is off track on these issues, Huntley said.

In the past four years the number of Minnesotans without health insurance has risen, and the cost of tuition for higher education has risen 80 percent in the past five years, he said.


The number one issue is to make sure Minnesota has the best K-12 system in America, but the amount of funding in that area has slipped dramatically, Huntley said.

Hall said she has seen demands passed down to teachers without the funds to back them up. Hall said she likes the idea of merit-based pay for teachers instead of demands.

Education takes up a good portion of the state budget, and she'd like to make sure those funds are used on the students, she said.

Hall said health care should remain private, with more opportunities for consumers to compare costs because that would lead to more competition.

Hall would like to work with the state and city to attract businesses to Duluth and encourage more young people to stay in the region through job opportunities.

She's right, Huntley said.

"Duluth's future depends on Duluth being seen as an exciting place to live by young people," he said.

One way to do that is to make sure Duluth's colleges expand, he said.


UMD has just seen the grand opening of the Sports & Health Center addition and is building the Labovitz School of Business and Economics, which both involved state money. Lake Superior College is also planning a new building, he said.

Both candidates are running for election to be involved in Duluth and help it grow.

Huntley started his political career on the board of the Port Authority, which he served as president for three years. In the 1980s, Huntley served on the Duluth City Council for four years. He has served as a representative for District 7A since he was first elected to the position in 1992. Huntley also teaches biochemistry at the University of Minnesota Duluth Medical School.

"I just wanted to help Duluth grow," he said. "One of the most important places to do that is the Legislature."

Hall said she wants to get involved in her community. She said she thinks the best place to do that is in the Legislature.

Hall has lived in Duluth for four years and has gotten involved in Leadership Duluth, through the Duluth Chamber of Commerce, Neighborhood District 9, the London Road Advisory Committee, Junior League and other organizations.

"I just feel whatever community I live in I just have to be involved," Hall said. "I'm not an expert on any of this. I want to do what I can to make this a great community."

Hall has experience working in the Legislature where she worked as a researcher in the state senate. Hall also worked for the Minnesota Department of Trade & Economic Development.


Hall also ran to give Huntley a contest, she said.

Two area state legislators, Reps. David Dill, D-Crane Lake, and Mike Jaros, D-Duluth, are running unopposed.

"I think that's shameful," Hall said.

Huntley said he's never run for his seat unopposed.

"I've always had pretty strong opponents," he said.

Hall said she sees the DECC and trust fund legislation, which failed to pass in the state government last year as two more important issues.

The DECC expansion could have brought both jobs to Duluth, and the trust fund legislation would have been part of a solution to the city's retiree health care problem.

She said she feels the current local legislators aren't holding water down in St. Paul.


Huntley said he was disappointed the Legislature didn't get the DECC funding passed.

"It took us six years to get the UMD Library funding," he said. "Sometimes it takes a while."

The trust fund bill never made it to the House, he said.

For more information about the candidates visit Thomas Huntley's page at the Minnesota House of Representatives Web site at or Becky Hall's campaign Web site at .

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