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Candidates for Minnesota Senate District 11 lay out priorities

Emily Ness
Updated: October 18, 2020 05:32 PM

Democrat Michelle Lee is challenging Republican Senator Jason Rarick for his spot in Minnesota's Senate District 11.

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The seat had long been held by Democratic Senator Tony Lourey, who resigned in 2019 to serve as Governor Tim Walz’s commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Human Services. At that point, the seat was filled by Rarick, who is now running for reelection against Lee.

District 11 includes parts of Carlton, St. Louis, Pine and Kanabec Counties.

One of the biggest issues the candidates say facing the district is access to broadband internet.

Rarick said he would like to see the state invest in bringing broadband internet to rural areas to improve learning and working from home.

"Even though we have a deficit as we’re coming back, I would really like to see the state make a commitment of about 50 million dollars a year that would be going into the grants that get internet access to our rural areas,” Rarick said.

Meanwhile, Lee said she would like to bring broadband internet to rural areas as well to improve education and create new business opportunities.

"I look at internet and the expansion of broadband as our moonshot. We can do this. We can join forces with the lawmakers that are out in Washington who are running on the same issue. We can join forces with Republicans and Independents here in Minnesota to make this happen,” Lee said.

Another issue the candidates say facing the district is economic development.

Rarick said he would like to work to improve the processing and manufacturing industries.

"Whether it's processing for farmers or manufacturing, our area really does not have that core industry—you know, Cloquet has the paper industry, that has struggled. The rest of the district doesn’t seem to have that core industry that it relies on, so I think manufacturing and processing for farmers is something that we could really try to work on and improve to keep more people working at home instead of commuting every day," Rarick said.

Lee said she would like to prioritize the health and education of workers, as well as, continue supporting unions.

"Our most critical economic development tool includes a healthy and well-educated work force. If we can have those two goals in mind, we can build back better and we can improve the economy for everyone here in Minnesota,” Lee said.

Rarick said that another one of his priorities is to move towards a cleaner and cheaper energy future for the state of Minnesota, while Lee said that another one of her priorities is accessibility and affordability of healthcare.

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Emily Ness

Copyright 2020 WDIO-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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