Voters guide: Meet your House, Senate and county candidates

On Tuesday, Nov. 8, Bugle-area voters will head to the polls to elect a new president of the United States and congressional representatives. Close to home, we’ll be voting for representatives our state house and senate. Lauderdale residents will cast their ballots for mayor and two city council seats. Some residents of Falcon Heights and Lauderdale will vote on a Ramsey County commissioner. And St. Paul voters will select someone to fill in a one-year term on the St. Paul Public Schools Board of Education.

To find out where to vote, how to register to vote, how to vote early, see a sample ballot for your area, or find out which legislative district you live in, go to the Minnesota secretary of state’s website, or call 651-296- 2803 between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m.

Meet your candidates here:

House District 64A

Erin Murphy

Erin Murphy

Erin Murphy, incumbent, Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party

Murphy, who has served in the House since 2007, is a registered nurse and adjunct faculty member in nursing at St. Catherine University

Priorities: We need to build the economy of our future, across the state of Minnesota.

To do so, we need to invest in our human and capital infrastructure, education, health care, transportation, housing and jobs. We need to push ourselves on climate change and vigorously pursue alternatives.

Finally, we need to reduce the outsized voice of outside spending in our campaigns by requiring disclosure of dark-money spending.


People may be surprised to learn: I love to sing.



Riley Horan, Republican Party

Horan did not respond to the Park Bugle’s request for information.

Alice Hausman

Alice Hausman

House District 66A

Alice Hausman, incumbent, Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party

A former teacher and hospital department manager, she was first elected to the House in 1989.


Priorities: My legislative work has focused on the environment, energy and infrastructure—with a special emphasis on public mass transit. In recent years, I have focused on housing. Nothing else in life goes well if you don’t have a safe place to sleep at night.

In the area of education, I will support efforts to focus extra attention on the youngest learners. Additionally, I will work to reverse the decline in support of higher education that has led to higher tuition and higher debt.

We have more to do to get to universal health care, our mental health system is fragmented and does not serve us well, and our criminal justice system requires a clear look at who we arrest and imprison and why.


People may be surprised to learn:  I am a farm girl. I milked cows (with a machine, not by hand) and tended to pigs and chickens.

Jon Heyer

Jon Heyer

Jon Heyer, Republican Party

Heyer ran unsuccessfully against Hausman in 2014. He is a semi-retired Catholic educator who works part-time in the adult special education ministry program at St. Odilia Church in Shoreview.


Priorities: MNsure (the state-run health insurance program) must be reformed, because it is clearly not working for the benefit of Minnesotans.

Our business climate in Minnesota must be improved. It is rated as one of the worst in the nation. We must ease business taxes and regulations to foster private-sector job growth and to stop more companies from relocating away from Minnesota.

We must focus on funding the needs on Minnesotans, not the wants of politicians. We are funding an ever-growing list of projects by selling state bonds. The state currently owes $6 billion in bond obligations, and this debt will be paid by our children and grandchildren.


People may be surprised to learn: I have won over 90 ribbons exhibiting vegetables from my garden at the Minnesota State Fair.


House District 66B

John Lesch

John Lesch

John Lesch, incumbent, Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party

Lesch has served in the House since 2003. He is an attorney in private practice.


Priorities: My top priority will be earned sick and safe leave for all Minnesota families, which is House File 549. Currently, 41percent of Minnesotans have no earned sick leave, and the percentage is much higher for those workers who handle our food or care for our children.

Minnesota needs a 21st-century transportation system, and we should fund it based on use (e.g., heavy trucks produce higher road wear than light cars). We should not make a transit option “pay for itself” unless we do the same for roads and bridges.

Minnesota law requires the attorney general to investigate violations of the law involving unfair, discriminatory and other unlawful practices in business, commerce or trade. But our ability to hold fraudulent corporations accountable for their actions remains restricted and the Legislature should change this.


People may be surprised to learn: I was in seminary for three years where I studied to be a Catholic priest.

William Brownell

William Brownell

William Brownell, Republican Party

William Brownell ran unsuccessfully for this Minnesota House of Representatives seat a number of years ago.

Priorities: Attracting permanent jobs and the creation of those jobs throughout Minnesota. I’m talking about jobs that can provide longterm, living wages for our residents. I will support educational initiatives that build upon what is successful without the impulse of seeming to “start over again.”

I will emphasize public safety and related funding, incorporating quality-of-life items, such as bike and snowmobile trails, whether in the core cities, our suburbs or in greater Minnesota.

People may be surprised to learn: I am humbled to have the privilege of being considered a “Father” within the Hmong community and have joyfully served Hmong youth and families for many years. My wife, who is Hmong, has not been too successful in getting me to overcome my Hmong language shortcomings though!


Dick Cohen

Dick Cohen

Senate District 64

Dick Cohen, incumbent, Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party

A practicing attorney, Cohen served in the House of Representatives from 1977 to 1986 and has been in the Senate since 1987.


Priorities: The biggest priority for me is to maintain the structurally balanced budget that we have finally been able to achieve after the years of deficit. [The year] 2017 will be the general budget and tax session, so it is imperative to maintain such a budget for both this upcoming biannual budget and subsequent ones.

I have authored a variety of affordable housing bills over the last number of years, and I hope to achieve a source of ongoing revenue for affordable housing.

I want to provide adequate funding for both K-12 and higher education. Urban school districts have unique problems, which we must address, and we must re-establish support at an adequate level for the University of Minnesota, the single most important institution in the state.


People might be surprised to learn: When I was a student at Northwestern University, I brought Groucho Marx out of retirement to speak on the campus.

Ian Baird

Ian Baird

Ian Baird, Republican Party

A carpenter, this is his first time seeking public office.


Priorities: I want to attack the culture of bureaucracy in our state government. The most important aspect of this is reigning in the Metropolitan Council, a group that has pushed forward transportation projects and implemented those projects without taking into account the voices of the people they claim to be serving.

We need to seriously address the education gap in Minnesota. We can do this through expanding school choice and implementing merit-based job security for teachers. School choice has been recognized across party and ideological lines to be an effective method of addressing racial disparities.

We need to lower the cost of doing business in Minnesota. Small businesses are often unable to cope with the fourth-highest tax rate in the nation. Excessive regulation holds down our companies and the economy.


People might be surprised to learn: My sense of humor is incredible.


John Marty

John Marty

Senate District 66

John Marty, incumbent, Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party

Marty has been a member of the Minnesota State Senate since 1987. Outside of his Senate work, Marty writes about public affairs, recently publishing the book Healing Health Care, the Case for a Commonsense Universal Health System.


Priorities: I’m pushing for passage of the proposed Minnesota Health Plan, which would cover everyone, instead of the current insurance-based system.

I will continue to work aggressively toward a sustainable economy, to protect the environment and the planet for future generations. However, we also need to make sure we have a sustainable agriculture system, sustainable housing and transportation, and sustainable resource-consumption policies.

Also, we need to address our growing economic and racial disparities, with a fair economy that works for everyone. I will continue pushing my worker justice legislation that would fully fund the childcare assistance program, triple the earned income tax credit and significantly boost the minimum wage, so that all workers can afford to pay for basic necessities.


People may be surprised to learn: My wife and I keep chickens in our backyard.


Carolyn Jass

Carolyn Jass

Carolyn Jass, Republican Party

A realtor and former teacher, this is the first time she has run for public office.


Priorities: Education reformAll students are treated as if they are college-bound, even in the primary grades. I advocate the European model in which students can attend a prep school, vocational/technical school or trade school. Students graduating from these alternative schools have the opportunity to obtain good-paying jobs.

Options for the disabledCurrent laws, regarding the disabled are producing the opposite affects than intended. Due to legislation influenced by misguided advocates, who insist that the disabled have equal rights, options such as employment will be gone.

Health careMNsure is a flawed system, in policy and in practice. Some careful consideration is needed to ensure health costs and government regulations are not driving the insurance companies out of business and making insurance too costly for consumers.


People may be surprised to learn: Mel Jass, a local television icon on Channel 11 with “Mel’s Matinee” was my uncle!


Ramsey County District 2

MaryJo McGuire

Mary Jo McGuire

Mary Jo McGuire, incumbent, Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party

McGuire began her service on the county board in 2012. Prior to that, she served as a state representative from 1989 to 2002 and as a state senator in 2011 following a special election.

She was state director for Project Citizen, a civic education curriculum, and is an adjunct professor in the graduate program in Organizational Leadership at St. Catherine University.


Priorities: I will continue to enhance our infrastructure to attract businesses to Ramsey County to bring good-paying jobs and expand our tax base to strengthen our local economy.

To advocate at the state Legislature for funding of mandated services so the financial burden does not get shifted to our property taxes, and

To push to prioritize the continuum of care in our community to ensure that quality care is available to all, from our youngest residents to our seniors, including mental health and early intervention.


People might be surprised to learn: I started ice skating in our neighborhood outdoor rink at an early age and continue to play ice hockey to this day.


Sue Jeffers

Sue Jeffers

Sue Jeffers, Republican Party

Jeffers has owned a small business in Minneapolis for more than 30 years and is a consultant assisting other small businesses. She ran unsuccessfully for this office in 2012.


Priorities: As a county commissioner, I will work to maintain a safe, vibrant, thriving community. I will focus on working together to build a strong community, to ensure our county is a great place to live, work, play and raise our families.

I will focus on fair and affordable taxes, managing public resources with fiscal responsibility and effective results.

And I will work to improve communication with the people and cities in Ramsey County.


People might be surprised to learn: I am a policy nerd. I understand economics, can read a spreadsheet and know the difference between microeconomics and macroeconomics.


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