2020 Voter Guide: House District 19A

(Source: KEYC)
(Source: KEYC)(KEYC)
Published: Nov. 2, 2020 at 5:25 PM CST
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Rep. Jeff Brand is seeking a second consecutive term in the Minnesota House of Representatives, but faces opposition from Republican candidate Susan Akland.

Susan Akland (Republican Party) is a candidate for Minnesota House District 19A in the 2020...
Susan Akland (Republican Party) is a candidate for Minnesota House District 19A in the 2020 general election.(Susan Akland)

Hometown: Born and raised in Oklahoma. I moved to St Peter with my husband and son in 1987.

Previous role(s) as an elected official: N/A

Previous and/or current occupation(s) before running for elected office: Registered nurse

SA: Growing up, my father was politically active and helped with both local and presidential campaigns. In high school, my government class required that we write a “bill” to present to the class. My father helped me write it, and my topic was “regulations on roadside signage.” Other than these vague, distant memories of “politics,” I never gave one thought to being in public office. Of note, however, Samuel Salyer (1813-1890), my distant grandfather, served in the Kentucky House of Representatives and a county seat carries his name, Salyersville.

SA: After retirement from a 40-year nursing career, I was praying that I would find a purposeful opportunity for this next stage of my life. There were several opportunities for volunteering, but those did not move me to action. I wanted something that I was really passionate about. One evening, around our kitchen table with a group of eight friends, the topic turned to politics. I expressed a growing concern with the direction that our country was taking, frustration over the divisiveness in our legislature, dismay over the disrespect and lack of civil discourse that was becoming ingrained in our society, and the degradation of the value of human life through the passage of later-term abortion laws. In the course of the conversation that evening, someone said, “Susie, you should run for office.” It was at that moment that I knew I had found the purpose that I had been seeking.

SA: I am a socially conservative, fiscally conservative, patriotic, God-fearing woman who feels that I am required to act justly and to love mercy and who feels that just as my father, brothers, and son served our country, now is my time to serve — not in the military, but in the Minnesota House of Representatives.

SA: My personal approach is as follows with three “Cs”

  • Be cautious. Wear a mask and social distance when indicated as has been recommended by various agencies (like the CDC, WHO, Department of Health, etc.);
  • Be considerate. If a mask is required, wear it. We do not want to put businesses or restaurants at risk for fines or closing. We want to be respectful of others—especially those at high risk such as the elderly;
  • Use common sense. This is where I get criticized for “not following the science.” I understand “viral load,” and there are many, daily situations that a mask is not indicated. Some instances of this would be driving in your car, or walking with your family in the neighborhood, or going out to get the mail. If you should have a chance encounter with someone while outside, maintain your distance and enjoy the fresh air!

SA: When considering legislation, I will use the following tests in my decisions:

  • Does the bill before me agree with the Constitution?
  • Does the bill reflect the principles of moral and ethical excellence?
  • How does the bill affect my constituents? Will it help them? Will it harm them?

I have no allegiances to anyone or any organization other than the constituents of 19A. Legislation must be for the benefit of my fellow citizens right here in Nicollet, Blue Earth, and Le Sueur county. If legislation is potentially harmful to them, I will oppose.

SA: I feel that one of my strengths is the ability to listen, evaluate, and act/recommend/promote. Understanding and respect are the primary tools needed to bring opposing views into a civil conversation that can lead to agreement. I hope to be a bridge in the Legislature that will work with both parties to get opposing sides to an agreement.

SA: Remote learning disrupts the communities and relationships in our lives. Teachers, friends, coaches and teams are the very connections that children need to cope with stress and feel safe. So, it will be important in a distance learning environment that some one-on-one attention is given to each student to build a relationship and provide personal support. It would also be helpful to connect with the student’s family on a regular basis to gain insight into how the family perceives the child is coping. These suggestions are rather straightforward, but the key would be training the teachers in techniques for eliciting the information that they want and then have resources available to deal with potential problems or issues in an individual student.

SA: As in other small businesses, the myriad regulations, fees, licensing requirements, etc. have been burdensome to the child care industry. The result has been extremely high costs and lack of sufficient services. The child care shortage crisis is much worse now than it was before the pandemic. We need adequate child care facilities to successfully get out citizens back to work and recover the economy. We need to advocate for additional Peacetime Emergency Child Care Grants to provide funds to stimulate the opening of child care programs. A serious look at onerous regulations and unnecessarily harsh penalties will be needed to keep current child care facilities open and stimulate the opening of new facilities.

SA: My key issues are:

  • Lower health care costs. High health care costs are forcing Minnesotans into making choices that are contrary to their health and well-being. We need to find solutions that work to reduce premiums and increase health care access;
  • Control taxes and spending. Minnesotans are already some of the most highly taxed citizens in the United States. We need to correct the deficit and get Minnesota moving again by providing incentives for business growth, holding agencies accountable for their misuse of funds, and making sure that our tax dollars are being used wisely;
  • District 19A deserves a representative that has the needs and concerns of this area at heart. We need a voice in St. Paul that will speak for our farmers, fight for small businesses and industry, and protect our hardworking families;
  • In the headlines today are the issues surrounding law enforcement. From the beginning, I have stood with our police officers and will continue to do so. I oppose dismantling and or defunding police departments. In fact, I would support applying more resources to these men and women so that they can do their job fully staffed and well-trained.

SA: My husband and I have lived and worked in this community for over 30 years. As a nurse, many of you trusted me with your life, and now I am asking you to trust me to represent you in St Paul. I feel that I am exactly what our forefathers envisioned for a state representative. I am one of the common citizens who knows and understands the values of our area and is willing to represent my fellow friends, neighbors, co-workers and acquaintances in the Minnesota House of Representatives. We need to restore honor, respect, honesty and transparency to our government, and I plan to do that. I plan to be a stateswoman — not a politician.

Jeff Brand (Democratic–Farmer–Labor Party) represents House District 19A in the Minnesota House...
Jeff Brand (Democratic–Farmer–Labor Party) represents House District 19A in the Minnesota House of Representatives.(Minnesota House of Representatives)

Hometown: St. Peter

Previous role(s) as an elected official: Elected to the Minnesota House of Representatives in 2018

Previous and/or current occupation(s) before running for elected office: Business owner, ecological services

The Brand campaign did not respond to KEYC’s request for comment.

More information about the candidates is available on their website and social media pages, which you can navigate to by clicking the links in the table below.

KEYC News Now will be tracking election results as they come in on Election Day, both on-air and online.

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