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Poston, Litts meet in amiable televised debate

Discovery Woods Montessori Director Meg Litts and Lake Shore Mayor John Poston met again Thursday for a mostly congenial debate. Unlike previous community-forum style events earlier in the week where the two candidates weren't given time to speci...

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Discovery Woods Montessori Director Meg Litts and Lake Shore Mayor John Poston met again Thursday for a mostly congenial debate.

Unlike previous community-forum style events earlier in the week where the two candidates weren't given time to specifically respond to each other's answers, the Lakeland televised debate gave them a chance to directly rebut one another. However, the tone remained friendly and the two spent much of their rebuttal time agreeing with each other.

The first debate question, delivered by Heidi Holtan of KAXE radio, asked what concerns the candidates had heard from the woman voters they met, and how they would encourage opportunities for women.

Poston said although he had been in very few conversations about the subject, it was an area that deserved attention.

"It's important that we have opportunities for women to grow within companies or organizations here in Minnesota," he said. "If it has been out of balance, that needs to change."

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Litts said many women don't lead by titles, but rather by influence. Women's' salaries are not competitive compared to men's, she added, an issue that deserved further consideration. She mentioned efforts in schools to get more girls interested in the STEM fields, or Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.

Poston agreed with Litts that there should be equality between men and women, "both in position and in pay."

In response to a question that asked them which presidential candidate they supported and why, both said they would vote for their party's nominee-Litts named Hillary Clinton and Poston, Donald Trump. They also both refrained from saying anything negative directly about the opposing presidential candidate-a feat Clinton and Trump themselves don't normally pull off. Litts said she had been a Clinton supporter "for quite a long time."

"At least she brings to the table a great deal of experience and expertise," she said. "She really understands what this job is going to entail. I feel really confident voting for her."

Poston didn't initially support Trump in the primary, he said, but came to support him over time.

"I don't like some of the things that we've heard and seen in the press, some of the things that he's said, I certainly don't agree with," Poston said. "I wish he hadn't said them. There are things he wished he hadn't said, and that he's apologized for. I hate to see this campaign come down to that kind of a battle: he did this, she did that. It's gotta be more substantive, and it's gotta be more about ... things that need to change in America."

Asked by Lakeland News Director Dennis Weimann on transportation and whether they would support a gas tax, Poston said he didn't support the gas tax idea, adding transportation revenue should instead come from taxes on auto parts. Litts said she was hesitant to impose new taxes generally, and the state should look to other funding sources on transportation.

On the topic of aquatic invasive species and whether public access to lakes should be closed to prevent their spread, Litts said closing a particular lake was one viable option.

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Litts said she lived for five years on Lake Onamia, and she compared a potential AIS closure to suspending the walleye fishing season on nearby Mille Lacs Lake recently. The early walleye closure, although unpleasant, was "necessary in order to help restore that lake, and that population," she said.

The quality of Minnesota's lakes are the reason for tourism and why some live here permanently, Poston said. On Gull Lake near where Poston lives, off-duty police officers work for the local lake association to monitor accesses, a practice he said has been impactful in stopping AIS. There should be more of such monitoring on the big lakes, he said.

Asked how policing should be reformed in light of the death of black men like Philando Castile and Jamar Clark in police encounters, Litts said ethics and morality are factors "and you can't legislate morality."

Aside from legislation, Litts said one way to approach the issue is to continue to discuss "what we're creating with our gun laws, and ... the fear we're creating between law enforcement and all citizens."

"I don't believe this is just about black lives, but I absolutely believe black lives matter," she said.

Poston said he agreed with Litts in that "it's not really about black lives matter, although they do."

He said police must receive more education and training.

Poston and Litts are running to replace retiring Rep. Mark Anderson, R-Lake Shore.

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Related Topics: ELECTION 2016
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