We are continuing our Meet the Candidates conversations for the November 3rd 2020 elections. We recently talked with Alan Roy (DFL) running for MN Senate in District 2 against incumbent Senator Paul Utke (R). Listen to our interview with Senator Utke.
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*KAXE/KBXE News and Public Affairs Director Heidi Holtan recently spoke with Alan Roy. The following transcript has been edited for clarity. The audio of this interview is available at the top of this page.
(Heidi Holtan) Q: Alan Roy is a DFLer who is running for State Senate District 2. This district is in north central Minnesota. It is huge. It includes the White Earth Nation as well as Beltrami, Becker, Clearwater, Hubbard, Lake of the Woods, Mahnomen, Otter Tail, and Wadena counties. Allen Roy joins us now. Did I get all those counties in there right?
(Alan Roy) A: Yes, ma'am. Thank you so much. It's a very, very big district.
Q: Yeah, no kidding. Well, first of all, the question is, why are you running to be the Senator from district 2?
A: Thank you for having me on today. I can tell you a little bit about myself. I'm born and raised in the area, here in the 2nd district, and I'm an army veteran. I served overseas and I got elected to the White Earth Tribal Council back in 2018. I've worked with the White House, I've worked with Congress. I've worked with the Minnesota legislature, municipalities, counties, and everyday Minnesotans. A lot of folks had approached me, heading into to this new year here, in 2020. And they said, 'Hey Allen, you have a clear understanding of the needs of the district. We've got a lot of economic development we've gotta do. We've got some healthcare issues and you have a very strong background and support for education in Minnesota and we would love for you to run.' I sat back and I thought about it. I said, 'You know what? We can make a difference here.' And by golly, I'm going to do the best that I can to help everyone that lives here. And so back in January we made the announcement in Waubun, Minnesota, and we said that we are running for state senate, and we've been off to the races ever since.
Q: In a different kind of race since we are still in a pandemic. So it must make it tricky on how to get to people.
A: That is a challenge that all candidates are having right now. We're doing our best. We're doing the social distance and we're doing the masks. We're doing a lot of things during this pandemic, and going door to door is quite challenging. So we're reaching out to folks on the radio - we're reaching out to them, and the media, and the newspapers, on Facebook, social media, direct mail. And we're doing a lot of phone calling. I mean a lot of phone calls. And I can tell you that there is a desire for change here in Senate District 2, and in Minnesota for that matter.
I will admit I am a conservative. I am a conservative Democrat, but I am a results-focused type of person. I want to get things done. I want to help people. I'm more of a common sense kind of person. So, somewhere along the lines of kind of like a Collin Peterson type of Democrat. I don't like to use titles or labels or anything, but I want to get things done. I want to help everyone that lives here. And I think if we all just work together we can get some very good results for the folks here in Senate District 2.
Q: As a conservative, what is it about the DFL in Minnesota that appealed to you to run under that party?
A: I am a conservative Democrat, but the thing about the DFL...it's the party of the big tent. They have a lot of space for a lot of Democrats, and different types of folks can go under that umbrella. And, quite frankly, I'm a strong supporter of unions; a very strong supporter of unions. I also believe that we should do our best to have a bright relationship with tribes in Minnesota. We also need to make sure that we're spending our money in a fiscally sound way, and we're doing the best we can with the funds that we have. I'm fairly fiscally conservative. That's my track record on the tribal council. I'm a fiscal conservative. But that doesn't mean that I'm not for getting things paid for and doing the right types of projects. I just want to do the projects that are going to help the people the most.
Q: We're talking with Alan Roy today. He is running for MN State Senate District 2 in north central Minnesota. You named a couple of them so far, Alan; you said economic development, healthcare, education. But if I made you pick two of your highest priorities for your district, what would they be?
A: Well, right now I would say the economy. That'd be right up there, and also healthcare. I say that because the economy...a lot of people, I mean, a lot of people lost their jobs. A lot of people have been laid off and the unemployment is only going to last for so long. A lot of small businesses have been hurt by the economy being shut down and what's going on with the pandemic. We want to make sure that people get those jobs back and these small businesses are successful. Already in the senate district here, a lot of folks were leaving the area and they're heading to the Twin Cities, or they're heading other places in the state and across the country. We want to see if we can attract those people back to the area, because at the end of the day, I want to make sure that people are able to see their families; that they're raising their children. They're able to take care of their homes, take care of their communities. With things being shut down the way they are, or the way they were, it's made it real tough on everyone.
I also listed healthcare because of the pandemic. I was just up in Lake of the Woods two weeks ago, near Baudette. One of the folks up there I was meeting with said if she wants to have a baby, they have to go all the way to Bemidji. I was just in Mahnomen this morning. They have a little community hospital there, so there's an access issue to quality healthcare in greater Minnesota. And that's a problem. You want to make sure you have accessible healthcare, but on top of that you want to make sure you have affordable health care.
I'm talking to a lot of elders; tribal elders, regular Minnesota elders. In talking with a lot of them, they are worried about the cost of healthcare and we need to do our best to try to make sure that it's affordable and accessible. I also can tell you even for the indigenous population, (because I am a tribal member, I do serve on the tribal council) that Indian Health Service for the area - for this part of the country - these clinics are only funded at up to 40% of where they should be. That's a problem because these folks rely on those federal healthcare facilities. But if you look at the statistics, Native Americans have some of the worst health disparities; probably the worst health disparities in the entire nation.
We need to have people that understand these laws - that understand health care - but that are also going to work towards solutions. My experience working with the White House, working with the feds, working with Congress, working with our own CEO here at Indian Health Service, is going to be important to help fix these health disparities. The economy and healthcare, moving forward, are going to be long-term issues that we're gonna have to work on in Minnesota, but I really think that we can do it and we can do it together.
Q: We are still in the midst of this pandemic. How do you think the State of Minnesota has been handling it so far?
A: Well, I can tell you that a lot of folks are still worried. Like I said, I talked with a lot of elders, a lot of community members, a lot of families, parents; a lot of folks who are concerned about this pandemic. We've done the best we can with what we've got, but there's always room for improvement. At the end of the day, it's going to be a team metric. I'm still serving in the army; the army reserve as a matter of fact. We need to work together towards common sense solutions when it comes to this. Should I be elected to the state senate, I look forward to working with other state senators, the legislature, and other folks to make sure that things get better and that we actually can recover from this pandemic.
Q: That is Alan Roy. He is a DFLer, running for MN State Senate, District 2. You can find more information at his website, royforsd2.com. Thanks so much for your time today. We appreciate it.
A: Thank you.
*please credit KAXE/KBXE - independent public media in northern MN when using excerpts of this interview. Responses to our Meet the Candidates interviews can be left at 218-999-9876 or by email.