*We are continuing our Meet the Candidates conversations for the November 3rd 2020 elections. We recently talked with Representative Josh Heintzeman from MN House in District 10A who is running for reelection. You can see his facebook page here.
It is our goal to give you information so you can fill out your ballot or go to the polls ready to vote.
ARE YOU REGISTERED TO VOTE? Find out who will be on your ballot at mnvotes.org.
*KAXE/KBXE News and Public Affairs Director Heidi Holtan recently spoke with Rep. Josh Heintzeman. The following transcript has been edited for clarity. The audio of this interview is available at the top of this page.
(Heidi Holtan) Q: Josh Heintzeman is the Republican incumbent representative for Minnesota House District 10A. It includes Crow Wing County and towns like Brainerd, Baxter, Nisswa, and Pine River. Representative Heintzeman, good to talk to you today. Thanks for being here.
(Josh Heintzeman) A: Glad to be here. It's kind of a joke between Representative Lueck and myself. He says I have the metro side of the district. He has all of Aitkin County and two-thirds of Crow Wing.
Q: So, why are you running for reelection?
A: It's been six years since I ran previously. I ran against John Ward in 2014. And a lot of the issues I cared about most then are certainly still relevant today. A lot of conversations still happening, obviously, about family and values. And I certainly want to continue to have those conversations in St. Paul for the people of my district.
Q: Well, let's talk about some of the biggest priorities for District 10A. What are some of the things you're hearing the most from voters?
A: I think people are really worried [about] what's happening, as the governor has continued his executive powers and what the impact is going to be. They're certainly concerned about COVID, just like anybody, but at the same time, our response is causing - the governor's response is causing - very significant impact to local businesses, to families, to schools.
I just don't think he is recognizing the differences between, say, for example, the Minneapolis-St. Paul area and greater Minnesota. And unfortunately that's bankrupting a lot of my industry and specifically the 75% of my district that's service-based. So that's a huge concern that I hear about locally, and what that impact might be compared to states like, for example, South Dakota. [Their Governor] Kristi Noem was just here this last week, and they're actually seeing not deficits, but surpluses. And we're going to look at, according to all predictions, approximately $5-6 billion deficit here in Minnesota. So, COVID is one thing. Minnesota's economy could be devastated under this leadership in St. Paul.
Q: Well, let's talk a little bit more about that. What do you think the role should be of Minnesota government when we're living through this historic pandemic, where numbers are not slacking off? Just over the last weekend, we had the largest day rate in the state and that's including places outside of the Twin Cities area. But in your mind, what's the right way to handle a pandemic then?
A: I heard the debate on the floor yesterday. It's very interesting. [Minnesota Representative] Kristin Robbins pointed out that, I think, 57 counties across the state have seen fewer than 500 cases. Obviously, that's more rural areas. And this one size fits all approach is not working for greater Minnesota. The governor has decided that we all abide by his rules, and that's the beginning and the end of it. That's really unfortunate. And the truth is, trying to handle this all by himself, as he has, has really been unworkable. So there's got to be some middle ground. And I would like to believe that the governor wants to allow the legislative process to work to the advantage of the people in Minnesota, but he must be under some kind of pressure. I don't understand why it's so hard not to see that there are great opportunities to work to overcome COVID and make sure that vulnerable populations are in as best case scenario as possible to get care, to avoid infection in the first place. While at the same time recognizing that there are communities specific to age and potential preexisting conditions that we can target and protect while keeping Minnesota's young people, for example, in school, in sports, and mitigating any kind of infection as it may arise.
Q: We're talking to Representative Josh Heintzeman. He is running for reelection. He's a Republican from Minnesota House District 10A. When the plan for this fall, for schools, was created, that's more based on what is going on in each of these school districts. I wonder if we can kind of move into education. You probably saw a recent survey from Education Minnesota. They found that 29% of teachers are considering quitting their jobs. And we're certainly putting them under so much stress. How could things be better? How could a representative - the legislature - assist teachers at this really difficult time?
A: So a number of experts have weighed in on this, and I think that there's definitely an opportunity to listen to their advice. They've provided that, at a number of levels, and more often than not, I'm hearing things like there's a way to keep kids in school safely. There are those voices that would prefer that we have no classes, that we have no sports, and that we lock down. Not just our state, but the entire country. We are not talking about Ebola. We're talking about a disease that is by no means a hoax, cause there's some people out there saying it's a hoax, but it certainly doesn't have the capacity to hurt people like some other more serious diseases than in our country's almost recent history.
The swine flu was basically shrugged off by the administration previous to Mr. Trump. So, I think that there's some parallels to be drawn there and people can make up their minds as to what they think may be at play. I would argue that there's certainly, to some extent, some politics in play. So does that extend into decisions relative to education? I'd leave that up to your listeners to decide.
Q: Let's talk about the future of House District 10A, where you live. We're in a very unusual time right now, but when you look at that district, where's the potential for growth? What are some of the positive things you're seeing there?
A: Oh my goodness. There's all kinds of stuff that could potentially be happening here. And previous to the governor's lockdown we were seeing growth. We were seeing more visitors. We were seeing significantly more people up here looking at real estate and buying businesses, creating businesses. Manufacturing was improving and on the rise, with a number of large businesses seeing increased orders, from Clow Stamping to Pequot Tool, and so many others. Lots of great companies doing work here in the area. Unfortunately, as a lot of other communities have seen - here, again, picking on the governor - but it has had a severe impact across my entire district.
So that's part of the reason I'm a little ramped up, and I am talking about some of this in a very negative context in terms of the response, but only because I look around to our neighbors, and I'm seeing a completely different response, and a lower per capita death rate. So if the response here in Minnesota truly has been in the very best interests of the people in Minnesota, I don't see the numbers to actually indicate that, when I see Wisconsin with a lower per capita death rate, Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota... states that do not have some of the mandates and the lockdowns and that continued shutdown of capacity in restaurants and bars. There again, hopefully our listeners could draw their own conclusions.
Q: Well, I sure appreciate your time today. If folks want more information on your campaign, they can go to joshheintzeman.com. Also, at the Minnesota legislative website, you can also see a background on his record in the House of Representatives. Thanks so much. We appreciate your time.
A: You bet. Thank you. Take care.