House District 6B: Boos says district deserves active representation
Boos, a wife and mother of two children who said she’s long been active in Crow Wing County’s DFL Party, looked for someone to challenge Heintzeman in the district before encouragement from others prompted her to take on the race herself.
BRAINERD — Sally Boos said she believes the Brainerd lakes area is underrepresented in St. Paul by its current legislator, and she would seek to change that dynamic if elected.
The retired Brainerd High School teacher who lives in Baxter is the DFL-endorsed candidate in House District 6B, squaring off with incumbent Rep. Josh Heintzeman, R-Nisswa. Boos, a wife and mother of two children who said she’s long been active in Crow Wing County’s DFL Party, looked for someone to challenge Heintzeman in the district before encouragement from others prompted her to take on the race herself.
“He (Heintzeman) is very inaccessible. He doesn’t answer emails. If he has town meetings, we don’t hear about them until after they’ve occurred,” Boos said. “He’s often seen out with his children and if anybody talks to him, he says, ‘I can’t, I’m with the kids.’ So that’s one reason.”
Boos said her frustrations with Heintzeman’s actions in the Legislature center more on what he chooses to address rather than what’s left unaddressed. He was the chief author of 24 bills during the most recent session and none made it to the House floor, she said. His focus in legislation appears to be restricting the rights of women to make their own reproductive choices and of transgender individuals, along with failing to show support for public education, Boos said. She noted his work on local bonding projects has been beneficial but represents the bare minimum in her view.
“If he’s not working for us, it seems to me he’s working against us,” Boos said. “There’s so much that we need done. … He’s just an obstructionist. You know, I just don’t understand why he isn’t out in the public talking to people, seeing what their needs are.”
Boos’ priorities should she be elected include fully funding public schools, expanding access to health care, addressing gun safety and supporting women’s rights.
Her experience as a teacher before her retirement in 2008 shows her the impact of decreasing financial support for public schools, Boos said. At one time, the Brainerd School District had a farm, an auto shop, a restaurant and a greenhouse program, all of which were designed to help kids stay in school and get skills to move into the workforce. All of those programs are now gone — here and other places — to the detriment of Minnesotans, she said.
In the wake of the upheaval in the school system during the pandemic, Boos said she’d like to see more funding available to schools to hire mental health professionals as well as investments to ensure classroom sizes are reduced and more support staff are available for after-school and summer programs.
“We’ve got the money. Let’s use it, because it’s going to take a long time to recover from this,” Boos said. “I mean, we’re still recovering from No Child Left Behind.”
Boos said she sees opportunities to update MNsure to make it available to more people who don’t currently qualify based on their incomes, but yet cannot afford coverage from a private insurer.
“I’ve talked to several people who say as adults, they don’t have insurance, but they can get insurance for the kids. But they make too much money for them to qualify for MNsure,” Boos said. “ … So we definitely need to do that.”
Boos said she believes there aren’t enough measures in place to prevent gun violence in the state, and as a legislator, she would seek to place stricter age limits on who is able to buy an assault-style weapon. Such a move would save lives, she said. And she would be a strong proponent of women’s reproductive rights, which she noted is a significant contrast between herself and her opponent.
“That should not come up in front of the Legislature. It’s in the Minnesota Constitution,” Boos said. “There’s absolutely no reason any bill concerning abortion or reproductive health care should come unless it's to fully fund them.”
Boos said while Heintzeman often touts his work on environmental issues, a deeper look shows he consistently votes against the environment in her view.
“I would be a real advocate for the environment. I know people get all upset about green energy, but we need to switch to that. We need to switch to solar power,” Boos said. “There’s no such thing as clean natural gas or clean coal.”
Boos said she’d support relief in the form of eliminating the tax on Social Security benefits as well as helping to lower property taxes through increases to local government aid. Asking Minnesotans who earn more than $500,000 to pay a little bit more would make a difference for the many more residents who are low- to middle-income, she added.
“The purpose of government is to provide for the common welfare, so let's do as much good as we can for as many people as we can,” she said. “And we've got the money. I mean, I just think, $9 billion — what can we do with $9 billion (in surplus money)? That's amazing.”
Much can be done with the state’s surplus, she said, including some of the priorities she believes matter to people of rural Minnesota. This includes child care, which she described as in crisis given a significant deficit compared to the need.
“Companies want to locate here and they want to hire workers, but the workers can't find child care or housing. Those problems can be solved if we put our heads together,” Boos said. “ … I had one small business owner in downtown Brainerd telling me that she doesn’t understand why we’re not welcoming immigrants here, that we need workers. And I said, ‘Well, I agree with you.’ … But we’ll have to solve the housing and the child care piece. But we have the money and we have the brains. We can figure this out.”
In an area represented by Republicans for nearly a decade, Boos said she believes her campaign is resonating with people who no longer feel represented by extreme views and nasty rhetoric, both of which have become more prevalent since the election of former President Donald Trump.
“I talked to so many people who thanked me for running and (were) saying, you know, ‘It’s time for us to step forward, that we've been hiding too long. It's time to take back our state,” Boos said. “ … They’re tired of the anger coming from the Republicans, they're tired of the division and the uncivil behavior. And they strongly believe in the Democratic platform. They want public schools fully funded, they want health care, they want women’s rights. I’m hearing just positive things all the time. So I’m feeling very good about my campaign.”
Boos said when voters head to the booth to cast their ballot, she hopes people remember the biggest differences between herself and Heintzeman as she sees it.
“I listen well and I know how to cooperate, collaborate and compromise when necessary. I listened to learn things and not just to respond. And I feel like he’s hiding, that he’s not available to his constituents,” Boos said. “ … At the (Crow Wing County) Fair, people came by the booth and said they tried to talk to him, and he told them to go away. And I just, you know, I don't think that's right. They're all his constituents. He needs to listen, even if he disagrees.”
CHELSEY PERKINS, community editor, may be reached at 218-855-5874 or email@example.com . Follow on Twitter at twitter.com/DispatchChelsey .