It is my great honor to have been elected by my neighbors and community to represent Duluth in the Minnesota Senate. Our campaign brought together a diverse, forward-looking coalition of union, environmental, and community groups eager to see Duluth and Northeastern Minnesota lead the way into a new, better future.

It has been an incredible journey so far, but the work we have set out to do has just begun.

This has been an extraordinarily difficult year. The COVID-19 pandemic; the development of frighteningly contentious political divisions; and the deep societal reckonings underway over racism, treaty rights, and the climate crisis — these challenges occupy our thoughts and have us all concerned about what the future will bring. That many of us cannot gather together with our loved ones in person, especially over the holidays, has made this year all the harder to bear.

With so much on the line — from ensuring every child has access to a quality education during this pandemic and beyond; to the economic supports needed to keep our small businesses afloat; to providing food, health, and housing security to every Minnesotan — our active voices and community involvement have perhaps never been more important.

Times like these are a call to action — to support and care for one another in community; to protect our health care, emergency, grocery, and other essential workers; and to begin making changes for the better. There is a light at the end of this hard winter with the arrival of multiple successful vaccines for COVID-19, record voter participation, and energy for positive change in the air.

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The 2021 legislative session will be an exciting time of opportunity as we move through the pandemic and into the work of bringing people together and building a better Minnesota.

Our communities are not waiting for the pandemic to end to work together toward economic revitalization, confronting racism, and addressing the climate crisis. Our elected bodies need to follow suit. If we act boldly and seize the opportunity of this moment, we can recover from this pandemic stronger than ever.

Recent tradition dictates that bonding bills only pass on even-numbered years, but these are extraordinary times and circumstances. With incredibly low interest rates on bond sales, there has never been a more opportune time to invest in our clean-energy infrastructure, our prized higher-educational institutions, and transportation. Investments like these return the most economic stimulus per dollar, are shovel-ready, and will advance the future we all want to see for Minnesota — all while creating high-wage union jobs across our economy. We must invest in one another now to build a sustainable, prosperous, and just future.

My promise to you is that I will advocate for each and every Duluthian, for the health of our beautiful city, and for our beloved Lake Superior and natural environment. I will champion our community’s issues at the Senate and seek compromise where it can be found to get the essential work of the Legislature done.

I know I can count on you to stay in touch with me and your other elected officials this legislative session about the issues that matter most to you. We are on the cusp of a new era. Let’s lead the way and build the kind of robust, caring community and state we want for ourselves and the generations to come.

Sen.-elect Jen McEwen of Duluth will represent Minnesota Senate District 7 beginning with the 2021 legislative session. She wrote this exclusively for the News Tribune at the invitation of the Opinion page.