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Meet David Suby - DFL Candidate for House District 2B in Clearwater, Becker and Mahnomen Counties

*We are continuing our Meet the Candidates conversations for the November 3rd, 2020 elections.  We recently talked withDavid Suby (DFL) running for MN House District 2b against incumbent Representative Steve Green (R).  Representative Green declined our invitation for an interview.

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*KAXE/KBXE News and Public Affairs Director Heidi Holtan recently spoke with David Suby.  The following transcript has been edited for clarity.  The audio of this interview is available at the top of this page.

Q:  (Heidi) David Suby is the DFL candidate for Minnesota House District 2B. This Northwestern Minnesota district includes Mahnomen, Clearwater and Becker counties and towns like Callaway, Fosston as well as the edges of Park Rapids and Detroit Lakes. David Suby thanks for being with us today. Thanks for your time.

A:  (David) My pleasure.

Q:  So the big question, why are you running for office?

A:   You know, I've answered that a lot of times…. We decided to run for this position mostly because we didn't want Steve Green to go unopposed.   I don't think that's the democratic way - democracy should be won.  But you know, the more I've traveled around this district, which is such a huge district, as you mentioned, and we put on a lot of miles going up to every corner and area  - especially when I've seen that the reservation -  the White Earth Indian reservation is totally within the district and it encompasses 45% of the district. And we have seen the needs that are just so unique on the reservation.  Those needs really need immediate attention. And so more and more, I've just gotten away from saying we were running because Steve Green needs to be opposed. We've become so much more enlightened by the needs of the district. And so we're glad we're doing it. We just think that there are needs that are not being attended to here.

Q:  That leads to my next question. So if I had to limit you to two, what would you say the priorities are that you would work on at the state Capitol for your constituents?

A:  My main priority is and has been the living wage. I ran a concrete contracting business for 43 years, and I really found that to have loyal and hardworking employees, you absolutely have to pay them a living wage… it all comes back to you. I found that by paying a living wage, workers work harder. They felt more respected. They felt like they were valued members of a team. And, you know, I watched over all those years, and I watched a lot of my employees get married, have children and have families and buy houses and they became active members of their communities.  And really that’s what life is all about. And so that's earning living wages. It's just one of the priorities. And it's something that establishes important bonds in our community, I believe. I think another priority has been health care. I had to limit to two. But I'd have to choose between health care and child care and education. I know they're all absolutely intricately intertwined even with the living wage.

Q:  That's what I was going to say. Childcare is a huge part of a living wage in the economy of places in greater Minnesota.

A:  Absolutely. It's really very simple. No childcare, no worker, no childcare, no workers, no economic recovery. It really is not that hard to figure out.  But no matter how qualified you are for a job, you can't take it if you  don't feel secure in leaving your children in a safe environment. And it's so true that the person that has to give up their job is just about always the woman in the family. And that's just really so hard. That's so unfair. Once you've gotten out of the  workforce, it's hard to get back. So it just really is not fair to women.

Q:  And I think it's also unfair to the workplaces of Northern Minnesota, that there are less women in those workplaces as well.

A:  Absolutely. You know, it's a trickle up theory instead of that trickle-down theory. I think it's just giving the living wage everything starts to move up…the communities thrive. Everybody does better when everybody's getting a better standard of living.

Q:  We're talking with David Suby. He is the DFL candidate for Minnesota House District 2B. So we are still in the midst of a pandemic. What are your thoughts on how the State of Minnesota has handled this and how do you think the economy and local businesses will recover?

A:  Boy, isn't that the question of the day? I think that, I truly believe that Governor Walz is doing the very best he can. I know there's this big debate over his powers during this thing. And I don't, I really wish the legislature wasn't being held up because of that for finishing their bonding issues and their general fund issues.The cases I believe are slowing down. It's because of mandates for things like masks. And I just believe that Governor Walz is following the science. You know, I attended the U niversity of Minnesota and I graduated with a degree in chemistry. So I really feel strongly about science. And in my mind, it's always that you have to follow the science in this. You can't follow your heart. I wish you could, but you can't in a in a pandemic.

Q:  You know, over the years, as I've talked to legislators in greater Minnesota (I suppose greater Minnesota is what they call us...we don't necessarily use that term), one of the big things is going to St Paul and getting across rural issues that are going on. How would you approach this if you are elected?

A:  That's a great question too. I know that they have trouble getting money out here, but if it was possible, I would really like to convince the more metropolitan legislators that they just have to come out to an area like this district to see what's going on. Every Saturday we go on what we call a whistle stop campaign, where we drive through the eastern half of eastern Park Rapids. Its is what I call the eastern part of the district. And we go up and down the streets of Park Rapids pulling a trailer with my signs. And then we head back and meet up with some people on the west side. And that go up to Calloway and Ogema and Waubun through Mahnomen. And we go over to the Rice Lake Community and through Naytahwaush and through White Earth. And I think if those Legislators from the cities could come up and see what's going on....the needs are so incredible in some of those areas. I think that might make a difference to have them actually see it in person.

Q:  Before we go. What would you say are the biggest economic drivers in House District 2B? 

A: Well, of course farming is a huge economic driver. But just small businesses, I think, are the lifeblood really of the country. I consider myself a small business, but you know, 85% of businesses in the United States have fewer than 10 employees. And so those are the ones that need help. I think there's lots of legislative things that we could do to help those small businesses raise minimum wage. If it was through tax credits or some other kind of legislation. I think there's things that would help do that. We could teach people in the district with better education. I think that with pre-K and childcare we could help people. The benefits from from the investment in pre-K and childcare are so incredible where you have children with less trouble, a higher graduation rates and more students going on to higher education.

I think that would all help improve a community. I know they're doing it. I've talked to so many principals and superintendents and they're trying to get more tech subjects in the, into the high school so that they're being trained for the jobs that are needed here. There's a lot of businesses that need people that have the training of the craft. I consider myself a craftsman so I know how important those things are. If we had better broadband in our district we would have more technological advances. There's just so many issues. It's just incredible.

*please creditKAXE/KBXE  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.

Heidi Holtan is KAXE's Director of Content and Public Affairs where she manages producers and is the local host of Morning Edition from NPR. Heidi is a regional correspondent for WDSE/WRPT's Duluth Public Television’s Almanac North.