Nov 3, 2022 | By: Mary Balstad

Key Talking Points in MN House 5A Race Include Education, Elections, Crime Rates

The latest redistricting changes in Minnesota left some House and Senate districts without an incumbent for the upcoming 2022 midterm elections.

For House District 5A, which now includes portions of Cass, Wadena, Hubbard, and Becker counties, two candidates are looking to fill that vacant seat. Republican Krista Knudsen of Lake Shore and DFL candidate Brian Hobson of Park Rapids both aim to represent the people of 5A and address main concerns in the district such as education, crime rates, voter security, and a state budget surplus of over $9 billion.

A comparison of the previous House District 5A boundaries (top), which includes Beltrami, Itasca, and Cass counties, and the new district boundaries (bottom), which includes Hubbard, Becker, Cass, and Wadena counties.

These are just some of the issues voters will be thinking about when casting their ballots either before or on November 8th. Education is a big issue for some voters this year, particularly in what standards are set and how much parents are involved. Krista Knudsen (R), mother of four and Mayor of Lake Shore, states her children are the main reason for her to run.

“I think that we need more parent involvement. Now, more than ever, we see parents going to school board meetings, signing up for volunteer positions, running for school board, just wanting to be involved,” said Knudsen when asked about what the legislature’s role should be in setting standards and curricula in the state. “When your child comes home from school and they’re telling you some of the things that are being discussed…it’s alarming. I think a lot of parents what to put that into perspective and understand more about exactly what’s going on.”

Her opponent Brian Hobson (DFL), a third grade teacher in Laporte, stated his support for the current system and how the standards in Minnesota are set by subject area experts, legislatures, teachers, and parents.

[Those who set the standards] do a really nice job making some high standards for Minnesota…and that is who should determine standards for our students. Teachers, school boards and school administrators at the local level should determine the curriculum,” said Hobson.

Another issues both candidates were questioned on was the reported rise in crime within the state. Knudsen voiced her support for local law enforcement.

“Some of the best ways to correct that is supporting our police officers. Here in Greater Minnesota, we do that,” Knudsen said while also mentioning the rise in law enforcement retirements in recent years. “[Officers are] retiring at record rates; they’re leaving the profession. We need to incentivize people to go back into policing, to law enforcement.”

Hobson, however, shared his thoughts on the rise in crime, stating he disputes those numbers and that a solution toward this issue is to help, rather than hinder, those in need.

“The reason why it might seem that way is that folks are really struggling right now. And, the way to help is to help, not to blame,” Hobson said, adding how a way to possibly alleviate this problem is by offering supportive housing or similar programs. “We can’t blame poor folks for being poor. We have to help poor folks be less poor so they don’t have to steal from their neighbors in order to survive. That’s a way we make everybody better off.”

With a reported $9.25 billion surplus, these programs could be a possibility. But a top priority for the current educator is putting those funds toward public schools and programs that would support both students and staff in the hallways.

“My primary focus is…public education…early childhood education and childcare in general,” Hobson explained, furthering his thoughts even into tax reform efforts outside of the school district. “Of course I’m interested in property tax reform for folks in the middle, because that is a hardship. And, I’m also interested in making sure that our seniors and older folks who receive social security benefits aren’t necessarily paying taxes on [those benefits].”

Knudsen shared a similar agenda toward what the exponential surplus could go toward.

“I think the number one priority for me would be eliminating the tax on social security benefits once and for all,” she said before also mentioning the recent price hikes due to inflation. “Clearly we have this huge budget surplus. We’re overtaxing the hard-working people of Minnesota. That money belongs back in their pockets. With inflation and gas prices…people need that money.”

For some people, a specific issue up to the voting booth is election and voter security. Knudsen advocates for a voter I.D. system, which seven U.S. states have strict photo requirements. Hobson, however, emphasizes the trust he has in the way elections are handled locally.

Whatever reason or issue leads a person to the voting booth or ballot box, those in House District 5A will have a chance to voice their opinion on who they believe to best represent them come November 8th.

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