The forum for the 8th Congressional District DFL candidates was held last Thursday evening. All five DFL candidates vying for the congressional seat currently held by Rick Nolan were in attendance. Kirsten Kennedy, Joe Radnovich, Jason Metsa, Michelle Lee, and Soren Sorenson all spoke on a variety of issues but the topic that candidates kept returning to was the economy.
Minnesota House Representative Jason Metsa calls his plan for the district the "Northern New Deal". Metsa said, "We need to build a 21st century economy that works so that our kids can stay in this district and raise their families."
Metsa wants to improve healthcare and education along with the economy so young people are able to support themselves and stay in the district.
For North Branch Mayor Kirsten Kennedy, improving the infrastructure of Minnesota's 8th District is key to improving its economy. Kennedy's plan involves a federal infrastructure program that focuses on rail, agriculture, roads, and airports.
"We need to be serious about economic development. A budget reflects values, and the in the United States government does not reflect my values," said Kennedy.
To a majority of the candidates, education is key part of economic development. Michelle Lee believes that vocational schools need to given proper attention again. During her time spent talking to people throughout the district, Lee says that she has seen many business desperately looking for trained welders and truck drivers.
Lee said, "We don't have a shortage of jobs. We have a shortage of trained workers. Once you are trained and in those professions, you will have a job for life."
One way Lee wants to fix this issue is by changing what people consider meaningful work. Reintroducing industrial arts and home economics classes back into high schools would be a big step towards getting young adults interested in those type of careers for Lee.
Five candidates will be nocked down to one after the primary election that is being held on Aug. 14.