COVID-19 has not been kind to any of us; from our health to jobs to our children’s education, there remain many unknowns. One thing we do know is that Minnesota needs experienced leaders to guide us out of this crisis. The 2020 election is about experience, leadership, and moving Minnesota forward.

I have been proud to represent the Iron Range in the Minnesota House of Representatives. The Range is my home, and it comes first in the decisions I make in St. Paul.

As a daughter, wife, mother, and teacher, I’ve learned the value of listening and teamwork. As a member of the Minnesota House, I serve as an assistant majority leader and as vice chair of the Education Finance Committee, giving the Iron Range a much-needed voice at the table.

My earned experience and leadership will be invaluable to the Iron Range in 2021 as legislators draft the state’s next two-year budget, where we must ensure investments in economic recovery for families and small businesses, affordable health care, and funding for our children’s education.

I am defined by the community I grew up in and the people I work, volunteer, and worship with. I strongly support mining and the jobs it brings to our communities. This session, I passed additional unemployment insurance benefits to mine workers and those whose jobs indirectly support mining and who were laid off because of COVID-19.

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While advocating for our natural resources-based economy, I continue to work for ways to achieve economic diversity. This won’t happen without a skilled workforce, reliable broadband, and affordable housing. Ensuring people have jobs with good benefits that allow them to provide for their families is my top priority.

People should never have to choose between buying food and paying for prescriptions. I voted for the Alec Smith Emergency Insulin Act to aid Minnesotans who cannot afford this life-saving drug. In this spirit, we must work for affordable and accessible health care that is available when people need it most.

The Iron Range has excellent health care providers, which should never be taken for granted. I will continue to advocate for rural health care and push to expand services, especially in mental health, and to care for the people who care for us. This session I was successful in delivering funding for public health and resources for health care workers working with COVID-19 patients.

In the 26 years of my teaching career, state funding for our children’s education has decreased while our students’ needs have increased. School districts are forced to turn to taxpayers. Now we are experiencing education like never before. Teachers are scrambling to meet their students’ academic, social, emotional, and technology needs. Families are scrambling to work, help their children, and take care of households. As a teacher and a mother, I am experiencing all of this. As a legislator, I want to use my experience and leadership to help. No exceptions. I’ll push for follow-through from the federal government on special education funding and do my part in supporting reasonable investments for education.

As your state representative, you will never have to wonder who I am really working for. It’s you. I won’t back down from hard work or hard votes. I’ll continue to speak out when leadership views don’t reflect our values or way of life on the Range. I would appreciate your vote this fall. A vote for me is a vote for the Range we love and the future we deserve.

Rep. Julie Sandstede, DFL-Hibbing, represents District 6A in the Minnesota House. She is being challenged in the Nov. 3 election by Republican Robert Farnsworth, also of Hibbing. She wrote this at the invitation of the News Tribune Opinion page.