Gubernatorial Candidates Focus on Greater Minnesota at Mankato Forum

August 01, 2018 09:10 AM

A gubernatorial candidate forum gave voters a chance to hear from some of those on the ballot Thursday night.

There were no heated exchanges during the 90-minute forum at the Verizon Center in Mankato. Several hundred voters gathered to hear these candidates talk specifically about issues for greater Minnesota. 


RELATED: Ask Gubernatorial Candidates Questions for KSTP's Debates before Primary Election

Tim Walz took the stage in his hometown of Mankato, joined by fellow DFL gubernatorial candidate Erin Murphy of St. Paul and Republican Jeff Johnson from Plymouth.

Invited but absent from the forum were DFLer Lori Swanson, whose mother had a medical issue, and GOP candidate Tim Pawlenty, who had a scheduling conflict.

RELATED: Swanson, Pawlenty to Miss Gubernatorial Forum in Mankato

One of the first questions asked: What will be your priorities in your first budget as governor?

"My priorities have always been, whether I'm on the county board or in the House or now as governor, will be K-12 education," Johnson said. "It will be transportation and a safety net for the most vulnerable people in our society."

"We need to make sure people have access to affordable health care and we've got to rein in costs at the same time," Murphy said. "We've got to invest in our schools across the state because we haven't caught up with 2003 and inflation. We have to invest in roads and bridges and broadband."

"It starts with education," Walz said. "But you don't do these things in pieces."

The Mankato forum was put on by several organizations that focus on greater Minnesota issues.

Three out of 10 Minnesotans live in rural areas, according to the latest data from the state. A question on what the state's role is in creating affordable child care options in the rural areas found all three candidates agreeing the state could do more to help families.

"We can use tax rebates and tax incentives to employers who are trying to do the things that we know is the best for child development and happiest employees and best productivity, put child care into the workplace," Walz said.

"We have to take care of it for our economic well-being, for the well-being of our children and for our workforce," Murphy said. "We already know we're short a workforce in manufacturing, health care and education. If we want to make sure that we're meeting the needs to build the economy of the future we got to make sure the people who want to work and can work can work."

RELATED: Candidates in Minnesota's Gubernatorial Race Prepare Addresses

"While I do believe we can do a better job with respect to the sliding scale, and with scholarships, government needs to back off a little bit so that these people can provide the services they want to provide," Johnson said.

The event also centered on other issues facing greater Minnesota including increased broadband, access to child care and protecting agriculture.

The governor's race hasn't seen many candidate forums ahead of the primary.

Plus, there has been no major polling outside of those conducted by the campaigns to show a frontrunner on either side of the ticket.

The primary is Aug. 14.


Eric Chaloux

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