Our community, state, nation and the world face a series of crises and challenges. Our perseverance as Northlanders is going to be tried in ways not seen in generations.
After having served eight years in the Minnesota Legislature, I decided last fall to seek another term as your state senator representing nearly all of the city of Duluth. Thinking back, we were facing a significant state budget surplus, a thriving and growing economy, and a positive job outlook for the foreseeable future. I was focused on continuing to expand Duluth’s economic opportunities, improving access and affordability of housing, and responsibly continuing our state’s energy transition.
The world changed dramatically beginning in March. As we all watched, COVID-19 spread across the world, including Minnesota and our own community. Our priorities rapidly shifted. The Legislature, in the midst of a traditional capital investment and policy session, was forced to pivot and respond to an abrupt economic slowdown and record unemployment statistics while also navigating a new world of disease management.
On Memorial Day, Minnesota and the rest of the world witnessed the heartbreaking killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, forever changing the conversation around race, law enforcement, and social behavior. Minnesotans demand accountability.
I am asking Duluth for another term in the Minnesota Senate. There is so much at stake, given the constant challenges facing the state, and this is a time when proven leadership and experience are critical. I serve as an assistant leader in the Senate DFL caucus; and as the next legislature convenes in January, we need experienced and pragmatic leaders to assemble a statewide budget that recognizes priorities and the realities of recovering from a recession.
Our political parties have been the target of partisan extremism. We do our best work on behalf of Minnesota when we come to the middle. Negotiations, compromise, relationships: these will all be critical mechanisms as we look to rebuild our economy.
Having served in the minority party for six consecutive years, I am confident I can continue to represent the needs of our community through historically challenging financial and socioeconomic times.
I won’t make you unrealistic promises just to get re-elected. What I will do is stand on my record of practical legislating and building relationships on both sides of the aisle. While I proudly cast green votes in support of the freedom to marry, an increase to the state minimum wage, the women’s security act (WESA), and other socially progressive issues, I also have championed efforts that allow employers to operate effectively and provide critically needed local and regional jobs. I have a track record of supporting both business and labor, and I soundly reject the idea that things have to be one way or the other.
My office is working every day to solve problems for so many constituents — even if it’s as simple as navigating complex state bureaucracies. I am proud of the work we have done together, and I ask for your vote in the upcoming DFL primary election on Aug. 11.
Sen. Erik Simonson is the incumbent in the DFL primary Aug. 11 for the state Senate seat that represents Duluth. The winner of the DFL primary will face Republican Donna Bergstrom on Election Day Nov. 3.