In Their Own Words: Schultz, Stauber offer their views on mining, guns, energy, police
"Their answers ... might be surprising to some and certainly are all worth pondering as voters begin to consider their coming decisions on Election Day on Nov. 8."
Tuesday’s primary election produced the race everyone expected for Minnesota’s 8th Congressional District: Democrat Jen Schultz of Duluth challenging incumbent Republican U.S. Rep. Pete Stauber of Hermantown.
The News Tribune Editorial Board interviewed and screened both of them ahead of the primary, Schultz on June 22 and Stauber on July 7. We asked about many of the same issues. Here are their responses to our questions on four biggies: mining and copper-nickel mining, mass shootings and guns, police and crime, and energy and gas prices. Their answers — edited for space and clarity here — might be surprising to some and certainly are all worth pondering as voters begin to consider their coming decisions on Election Day on Nov. 8.
ON MINING AND COPPER-NICKEL MINING
“I have not ever diverged. I have always said I am 100% supportive of miners and our mining industry. And, you know Pete Stauber says that, but he (hasn’t taken enough) action. We have North Shore mines idling. We have seen a reduction in the transportation and the export of taconite. What we have to do is invest in mining. And that means we need to invest in what is happening in Ohio, where we’re sending our iron-ore pellets. We need what are called mini mills or DRI (direct reduced iron mines) up here to make what's called sponge iron or steel. We need to create the facilities to do that like what was done in Ohio. …
“When I say domestic production, I’m talking about vaccine production, too. I’m talking about production of things that we have relied on other countries for. … We’re talking about (the) production of key things so that we may no longer rely on other countries to export to us.”
“We have to have the political will to do it. This administration (of President Joe Biden), not only do they not have the political will to mine in our country, they’re actually going into other countries to ask them to mine more. It’s unconscionable when we have the biggest copper-nickel find in North America, and we have the best environmental standards and the best labor standards, and this administration will not allow the process to go through. We had Twin Metals put forth their mine plan, and the United States Forest Service is not reviewing that project-specific mine like they have all the other decisions like this they’ve made. They’re putting a blanket over the wilderness, and it’s a political study. Every other Forest Service consideration was always project-specific. This isn’t. That’s unconscionable. …
“The (U.S. Department of Defense) on a Tuesday said we need to mine more critical minerals in the United States to secure our independence. And, literally, on a Wednesday, the very next day, the Biden administration pulled the leases. That’s unacceptable. We were able, ready, and willing to (mine those minerals), and we know that critical minerals are a mainstay in everyday life.”
ON GUNS AND MASS SHOOTINGS
“The legislation that I have supported, obviously, is to secure investments for mental health crises and for being proactive and securing our schools. It doesn’t have to be either-or. We can support the Second Amendment and not take away constitutional rights from law-abiding citizens, and we can secure public safety. I think you can do that in parallel tracks. I’ve supported additional money for school resource officers, for target-hardening. I’ve actively supported and championed legislation to add more into background checks to include probation officers’ reports, the railroad police, our campus security, calls for service, and more. What we want is for the people who shouldn’t have guns to not have them. We can do that without taking away someone’s Second Amendment rights. …
“Being a (former) police officer and the victim of two violent gun crimes, I know that we can do better. But you don’t take the rights away from law-abiding citizens. …
“In northern Minnesota we cherish our Second Amendment. There’s nobody who wants to work on preventing human violence more than me. We have to get to the root causes (of shootings). And a lot of that has to do with mental health and drug use.”
“We need to look at gun safety and gun violence. Those are the topics we need to focus on. I’ve been doing five or six parades and festivals in very red districts that voted for (President Donald) Trump. Often I’m asked by individuals, ‘What are we going to do about the AR-15?’ They’re concerned about the safety of their family members. There are a lot of suburban moms. And not just women; men were asking me. They’re concerned about the safety of their kids in school. They really are. And so, as a legislator, I have a record of passing common-sense gun reform, which is red-flag laws, closing loopholes when you're purchasing guns at a gun show, and background checks. These are all policies that most Americans support, including Republicans, including gun owners, and including people in the 8th District … to make sure we can keep our family members safe. …
“(Stauber) takes hundreds of thousands of dollars (in campaign donations) from the NRA. He takes a ton of corporate money, so he’s accountable to corporations. I’m running because I’m going to be accountable to the people of the district, the people of Minnesota.”
“I fully support funding the police. … We need to make sure they’re getting appropriate training, that we’re able to recruit high-quality officers. Being a police officer and (working in) public safety is a hard job. It is very stressful. We need to give them the support that they need. We need to make sure that the people are responding who need to be there: mental health therapists, experts. (Police) need more support in terms of responding to a crisis situation. … In Duluth, we have a really good community-policing model, and we can really educate the rest of the state and the country about what good things are happening in Duluth.”
“We have to have the police there to respond. We can’t defund or disarm the police. We have to support and invest in our police departments, putting forth best practices and training. … This is where my experience, I think, comes into play. When I was first hired onto (the) Duluth (Police Department) in the early 1990s, we just recycled these habitual defenders through the jail system, and it wasn’t working. They’d go in on a Friday and come out Tuesday and do the same things. What we did is we worked with and collaborated to make sure that, ‘OK, John Doe, who we picked up, doesn’t need jail again.”
ON ENERGY AND GAS PRICES
“On day one, five hours into his presidency, (Biden) canceled the Keystone XL pipeline. … That set a tone. … And then, shortly thereafter, he removed the sanctions on the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, that pipeline that serves Europe and many of our allies in Europe. And then he stops drilling on federal lands and won’t allow permits to drill on federal land. When you were energy dominant and you were actually exporting energy to our allies across the world, when you stop that, when you (aren’t) energy dominant anymore, somebody is going to fill that void. Vladimir Putin did. He jumped on it. You’re seeing right now the devastation of what’s happening when we don’t become energy independent. …
“When we manufacture energy, we do it better than anybody else. We do it 40% cleaner than any other nation. So why wouldn’t we harness what we have and have nations across the world replicate what we do? American technology. American dominance in energy. Our allies should never rely on Vladimir Putin for oil. They now have said they made a mistake to rely on Putin. That’s the lack of leadership this administration put forward. When you show a lack of leadership, especially on energy, it’s going to be filled with dictators.”
“Gas prices (in June), when you adjust for inflation, they're as high now as they were in the 1980s. … If you look at just a mile driven, it’s cheaper now, even if it doesn’t seem like it, than 30 years ago. That’s because cars have become much more efficient. Even if you don’t have an electric vehicle, just a gas-powered vehicle is more gas efficient, and that’s because the government demanded that. People demanded more-efficient cars after the 1970s oil crisis. It feels like (we’re paying) a lot (at the pump) because wages have not kept up with overall inflation. …
“We definitely want to do something to help people because they’re struggling, especially in our district where people have to drive so far. It is really a burden to have high gas prices here. … The long-term solution is to give fossil-fuel industries more certainty so they start drilling. I don't think we’re going to see big imports from Russia, as that conflict continues and escalates between Ukraine and Russia. We’re going to have a long-term solution, not just a gas-tax holiday. (Also,) if we do the holiday, there’s no assurance that the fossil-fuel (and) gas companies will pass it on to consumers. They could just keep it as a profit and continue the high prices. So if we do that, there has to be some sort of enforcement that the lower price is passed on to consumers. That’s really important.”