*We are continuing our Meet the Candidates conversations for the November 3rd 2020 elections. We recently talked with Alex Hering (DFL) running for MN House in District 9A. You can find his social media here. He is running against incumbent Representative John Poston (R). Find information on his MN House record here.
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*KAXE/KBXE News and Public Affairs Director Heidi Holtan recently spoke with Alex Hering. The following transcript has been edited for clarity. The audio of this interview is available at the top of this page.
(Heidi Holtan) Q: Alex Hering is the DFL candidate for the Minnesota House in District 9A. That district includes Cass, Wadena, and Todd counties, including towns like Pillager and Lakeshore, Staples and Eagle Bend. Alex Hering joins us now. Thanks for taking time today. So why are you running to be the representative for 9A?
(Alex Hering) A: It's kind of one of those things. Why am I running again? In 2018, I ran for the same office and, you know, healthcare affordability, education with the student debt, and housing affordability. Those are concerns, along with broadband expansion, the environment, livable wages. And then, really, all we saw was tax breaks for the rich and the corporations, and a push for tax conformity by our representatives in this district. This year, 2020, it's really kind of put a magnifying glass on all those issues and expanded. I was doing a remodeling project in February, just wrapping up, and listening to public radio going, "What's this deal going on over in China?" And it didn't seem to be the topic, until all of a sudden it was the topic and became a crisis. It seemed like a sideline [before].
So, now we're looking at how do we protect our healthcare workers? How do we prepare our facilities? And that was something that kind of took precedent this spring, along with how do we address unemployment, for shifting over to stay-at-home type of mentality. And we learned that the $600 [unemployment] bonus that came up - actually people learned what livable wages are with a $15 an hour type of bonus for unemployment. And I think those are all things that I was looking at in February and March. How do we retain these people that their job may not return? And housing...that's obviously going to be a concern if people aren't making an income. We're going to look at foreclosures and evictions; how to protect landlords...similar to things that we all went through with the financial crisis the last time.
And now we find out that we're reliant on broadband for our telemedicine, our education with kids learning virtually, or even college students and those for training programs. And also how much more we're working from home. I think spouses were looking at each other like, "Are you hogging my broadband?" It's pretty common, but all those things are things to address. The reason why I'm running is I think I'm the one that is paying attention to that more than liability protection for people. And taxes are still an issue for my opponent that somehow thinks that protecting the wealthy and maintaining those tax breaks is more important than maybe some of these other things on the list.
Q: You reminded me of how things have changed so drastically, both very quickly and very slowly. I mean, it's hard to kind of put words to what has happened in our society. You talked about corporations, and you have something on your website: "keep big money out." Can you tell us a little bit more about that? I think that plays along with what you're saying about taxes as well.
A: Yeah, that ties in with the 28th amendment and the move to amend work that's gone forward to try and get big money out of politics. The same move to amend organization. They support universal health care. And keeping big money out of politics is really where we look at turning politics back over to people; where we've seen that corporations are controlling everything going on. And we see that in our state legislation, we see that in our national legislation, or things get passed to help people and those bills get blocked. And the reason they're blocked is that perhaps corporations don't want unions expanding protection for their workers, or I guess the liveable wage thing is one of the first things that comes to mind. Are you trying to stand against people being able to make a living without working three jobs and not having any health benefits attached to that? So, there's a difference in mentality, and it's kind of an obvious choice, where really it should be a nonpartisan issue. And I think that that's a different direction, going that way.
Q: We're talking with Alex Hering. He is the DFL candidate in the Minnesota House District 9a race. Well, differences have really shown up at the Minnesota legislature since the pandemic hit. There's been a lot of divisiveness between Democrats and Republicans. How do you think the state has handled the pandemic?
A: I think one of the first things I did was I got one of my Walz/Flanagan campaign signs from 2018, and put it up in my window. I think that was something that the leadership - not just Governor Walz, but really the whole cabinet - and everybody that stepped forward to address the planning that we needed to do. How do we take care of all these parts that have been stopped? I mean, the production of our food was stopped. And when I looked at the grocery stores and wondered how come there's no corn beef hash, or why no pork chops, or in some cases it was the drastic thing where even a miscalculation of labeling the pork chops in the cooler. When I was shopping one day, I had to call the lady over, because now I don't think this package [that says] $15 is any different than the one that you labeled at $600, but it highlighted how big a concern that is that we rely on a steady stream of things to be there available for us.
And when we found out that we can't do the things we're used to doing, and we saw the supply chains break...I think we're actually much better off by what happened, because nobody knew what was coming and the frustration or the blame really has to be...you have to set that aside almost and say, "You know, we made some drastic decisions that we had no answers for, and now we're learning more, but possibly we could have done more if more people cooperated." And we might not be in a situation where we're scared of closing schools if everybody had cooperated. I think that was the biggest challenge of seeing armed vigilantes going into the Michigan legislative house, and the same time our Chamber of Commerce is saying, "Open up! Liberate us!" I think we've all been through a lot of stress. The communication now is to try and get together and plan on how to proceed, when we've all been at an edge.
Q: I know the Republicans are especially unhappy with the executive powers that the governor still holds, when 49 of the other states in the nation have governors with executive powers because of the pandemic, and the President still holds them. If you're elected, how are you going to face this kind of divisiveness when you get down [to St. Paul]?
A: I don't believe that they're looking at the Governor being exclusively the decision maker. And that's where they're cutting off their own ability to participate in the planning; the important things that have to be done. But the decision making - and we saw this in our legislature, in the house of representatives - my opponent was one of the first people to be promoting the resolution to end the Governor's executive powers. And those are the very things that protected people that were going to be facing eviction. It affected a whole afternoon of legislative session, if you look at it, because they had a couple hours' business they did, and then the House minority leaders said, "Hey, let's do this resolution to end the executive powers," and that wiped out the rest of the afternoon of anything getting done productively for the people of Minnesota. And that's one of the things I hold my opponent personally responsible for, being involved in that. That's where our local government assistance...I think it's distributed to the cities and the townships. And so the governor did that, and you think he had enough on his plate? I think Governor Walz had plenty of things to do besides my opponent's job or any other GOP legislators that totally defunded the police in their own city. I mean, when you look at that, that's how twisted their messaging has become. Whether you're accusing the Governor of manipulating every decision, when they chose not to participate. And they stymied any kind of decisions. So, I know that's my take on it.
Q: That's Alex Hering. You can find a lot more information at his website: hering4mn9a.com. I appreciate your time today, Alex.
A: Thank you so much, Heidi.