Candidates for Minnesota House District 3A lay out priorities | www.WDIO.com

Candidates for Minnesota House District 3A lay out priorities

Updated: October 18, 2020 05:31 PM

Republican Thomas Manninen — a law student is challenging Democratic incumbent Representative Rob Ecklund — a labor union leader and for his spot in House District 3A.

District 3A includes Cook, Koochiching, Lake and St. Louis Counties. It is one of the largest districts in the state.

Ecklund said one of his main priorities heading into the election is advocating for broadband internet access.

"I view broadband as probably the next economic engine of Northeast Minnesota. We have everything it takes that people want to live here. Taxes are low, we have the waters, we have the lakes, we have the trails. We have everything in terms of assets, so I’m going to continue—if I’m fortunate enough to be re-elected—continue being an advocate for greater broadband internet in the state of Minnesota. It should be like rural electrification back in the 1950’s,” Ecklund said.

Manninen, on the other hand, said one of his main priorities heading into the election is ending Governor Walz’s shutdown.

"One of my biggest priorities is ending the unconstitutional Walz shutdown. I’ve talked with business owners throughout the community and what some people don’t understand is you know, big corporations like Target and Walmart—they can survive two weeks without income, you know, mom and pop shops that are famous throughout District 3A—they can’t survive off to that and the arbitrary guidelines, the restrictions on how to operate, it’s put them in dire financial straits,” Manninen said.

Ecklund said that another one of his priorities was supporting for veterans, as he is a veteran himself.

"Being a veteran, I work on a lot of veteran’s issues. Being the chair of the Veterans Committee has been an absolute pleasure. I’m working on a bill right now—the ‘Veterans Restorative Justice Act.' What that would do is create a court system for vets who may be potentially on the wrong side of the law for offenses that may be caused by service related injuries like PTSD or drug and alcohol addiction,” Ecklund said.

Manninen said he hopes to support blue collar workers throughout the district.

"I’m tired of seeing the layoffs, people having to move out of the district because of lack of job opportunity. I think it’s because for far too long, St. Paul has advocated solely for the interest of Minneapolis and St. Paul and has left districts like ours behind, so I’m running to be the change we need to see in the Northland to have a more sustainable economy and not have to have our citizens leave the community,” Manninen said.

Finally, Ecklund said he would like to see new infrastructure. Specifically, water and waste water replacement.

"I think one of the common things is that we have a lot of old infrastructure that we need to replace. So, our biggest challenge is going to be water—drinking water replacement and waste water replacement,” Ecklund said.

Meanshile, Manninen said he would like to see tax reform.

"Minnesota is in dire need of tax reform. Whether it’s the tax on social security that we should work to end for all seniors in District 3A or it’s the high income and corporate tax rates that you know, keep money out of the people’s pockets and make it hard for small businesses to make it by,” Manninen said.

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