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Candidate's View: Imagine a legislator who'll listen and communicate

ABOUT THIS RACE: Minnesota Senate District 11 stretches roughly from Cloquet in its northeast to Mora in its southwest. DFLer Michelle Boyechko is challenging incumbent Republican District 11 Sen. Jason Rarick in the Nov. 8 election. Early voting opens Friday, Sept. 23.

Michelle Boyechko.jpg
Michelle Boyechko
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I will tell you what type of a person I would be as a Minnesota senator.

I will make it a priority to communicate with constituents. This may include on the phone, by email, or in person at regular town halls in the district. When was the last time you got anything but a canned answer to a contact and nothing more? Let alone seeing one of your representatives out visiting your community?

From the column by Sen. Jason Rarick: "The work ethic instilled in me by my parents has led to me being a legislator who is sought out to carry tough and important pieces of legislation."

I promise to be as knowledgeable as possible when legislating a particular issue. I want to talk to experts and the people who may be affected by a bill, asking about the long-term implications. I am willing to work with folks who come to the table in good faith. I have no time for people just looking to stymie legislation. We are there to work for the people.

I am here to protect and expand rights for those who historically have been excluded. LGBTQ+ rights, Black and Brown rights, Indigenous rights, and women’s rights are human rights. If you are not part of one of these groups, do not panic. You will not lose any of your rights! Let me be clear: You lose nothing by others gaining rights. Not everything has to be about your demographic group. This would include codifying abortion rights and marriage equality into the Minnesota Constitution.

I want to reduce gun violence. I do not want to take your guns. I want to make domestic-abuse survivors safer, suicidal people safer, and the families of patients with mental health problems or dementia safer. Most Minnesotans I have talked to think guns should be in safe storage. Unanimously, people I spoke with are not in favor of no-permit carry. Background checks do not catch everyone they should, but they do help. We cannot legislate our way out of gun violence. We also need to look to the reasons gun violence happens and address those.

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I am here because all Minnesotans should be able to go to the doctor when they need it. How much is our state losing due to chronic disease and decreased output in the workforce?

I want public schools fully funded. I want Minnesota to have students leaving high school ready for adulthood. Science is real. And history is sad, maddening, and depressing at times. It’s actually OK to criticize your nation and still love it. It’s actually good for you to know that we’re not the greatest yet. Schools need music and second languages. Kids need well-trained and well-qualified teachers. Schools across the state should be funded by need, not by taxing district.

I’m going to put the “Farmer” back in DFL. I’m excited to write legislation making it easier for farmers to get food to their customers’ tables with great safety standards and less red tape. We can encourage farmers and landowners to use regenerative practices to increase carbon storage in the soil.

Partnering with Minnesota’s tribal nations is very important to me, and I will do all I can to help them maintain sovereignty and prevent the state from taking access to water, land, minerals, gas/oil, forestry, and gaming rights.

I’m a farmer, and, by nature, I have to be ready to do the dirty work when it’s needed. I’m an everyday Minnesotan who has been struggling to get through parts of my life — just like you. I am willing to listen and learn.

Michelle Boyechko of Tamarack is the DFL candidate for Minnesota Senate District 11. She wrote this for the News Tribune at the invitation of the Opinion page.

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