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Ruud and Stenglein state their case in debate

From healthcare and renewable energy to which presidential candidate they support--incumbent Sen. Carrie Ruud R-Breezy Point and her DFL challenger Tiffany Stenglein of northeast Brainerd Friday stated their views on various issues in a televised...

From healthcare and renewable energy to which presidential candidate they support-incumbent Sen. Carrie Ruud R-Breezy Point and her DFL challenger Tiffany Stenglein of northeast Brainerd Friday stated their views on various issues in a televised debate at Lakeland Public Television in Brainerd.

The debate between the Senate District 10A candidates was sponsored by Lakeland News and was moderated by Heidi Holtan of KAXE radio-Northern Community Radio; Zach Kayser, Brainerd Dispatch staff writer; and Dennis Weimann, Lakeland Public Television.

The debate was an hour long and each candidate had two minutes to answer each question and one minute to offer a rebuttal or a statement they may have missed.

In their opening statements, Ruud said she has been honored to serve Senate District 10 for the past four years. She said she is pro-life, she supports the second amendment, veterans, the outdoors-environment and natural resources-and is proud of her work with National Foundation for Women Legislators, a non-partisan group for women.

Stenglein said she supports early childhood family education and border-to-border broadband. She said District 10, which consists of Crow Wing and Aitkin counties, has the highest median age of an aging population and "we are not ready" to handle it. She said the state doesn't have enough facilities or professional staff to take care of the elderly.

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Presidential nominee support

The candidates were asked which presidential candidate they support and why. Ruud said she supports Donald Trump and Stenglein said she supports Hillary Clinton. Ruud said Trump's beliefs align with her own, when it comes to pro-life, second amendment rights, the military and law enforcement. Ruud said Clinton is for abortion and wants to expand abortion rights in the United States and this "is a very serious issue."

Stenglein said she shares Clinton's values, as she respects women and children and their rights, and supports those who are less fortunate. Ruud rebutted Stenglein's comments and said "Hillary Clinton does not support the rights of children, she supports abortion ... and that is not supporting our children. So I really differ in that ... I don't think she supports women at all. She wants them to be second class ... I don't see her as a role model for women."

Stenglein then said she was not going to try to defend another person's actions.

"I cannot support someone who treats women as objects," Stenglein said.

Renewable energy

Stenglein said the state eventually needs to move to renewable energy, as fossil fuels run out. Stenglein said the state needs to address the issue and move forward. Ruud talked about how the state just had a ruling on where Xcel Energy will close two of the state's biggest coal burning units and develop a large portfolio of renewable energy-one being Sherco, the Sherburne County Generating Station. She said this is a big step and Minnesota is a leader in renewable energy.

Aging population

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Ruud said she just took the journey with her parents, who both passed away at age 97, through the system. She said Minnesota has a wide variety of options, and the state has to support the services. Ruud said the state is making progress where nursing home attendants and providers received a 5 percent raise, but said "We can always get better." She said the state needs to listen to the providers and work with them.

Stenglein said the state has to work with the paid and non-paid caregivers. She said the biggest concern she has moving forward is the reimbursement rate of nursing home care. She said if people don't have money or insurance to pay for nursing home care, the state has to pick up the bill and this will create a burden on the state.

Social issues

The candidates were asked what their most important social issue is. Stenglein said poverty and income/wealth inequality. Stenglein said her faith tells her that people need to take care of those who are less fortunate. She said the state is in a position where it can help, such as expanding family credit and reducing burden on the less fortunate. She said she sees income and wealth inequality differently than poverty.

Ruud said her biggest issue is that she is pro-life. She said she worked hard for a long time and has seen the state's abortion rates go down, as well as teen pregnancies. She said the state is doing a good job with educating the public.

Health Insurance/MNsure

Stenglein said the problem with health insurance is the cost and all individual and group plans are rising. She said technology has improved to help people live longer and to treat them, but the cost is a problem. She said the state has to address the financial cost of insurance, the drivers of care and the cost of care.

Stenglein said the Affordable Care Act had a few victories, but it didn't do much to make insurance more affordable. She also said any action taken in any upcoming special legislative session she believes will be "panic driven." Stenglein said she supports the Minnesota Health Plan.

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Ruud said she was shocked when she heard Gov. Mark Dayton state that MNsure is a failure and is one of his biggest disappointments. Ruud said the legislators told him it was failing. She said open enrollment will be starting in four weeks and the state does not have a solution. She said even if it did have a solution, it would not be able to be implemented in time for open enrollment.

"We have already paid for the federal exchange and have already wasted $400 million on MNsure," Ruud said. "Along with that, it costs us $49 million a year to keep MNsure. So when we get back into session we will want to talk about it."

Legalizing marijuana

Ruud said she does not believe in legalized/medical marijuana. Stenglein said she would be concerned about what regulations would be in place if the drug was legalized. She said she would not support legalizing it.

Sunday liquor

Ruud said Senate District 10 does not want to have liquor establishments open on Sundays and as long as that is what her constituents want, she will honor that. She said she has talked to a lot of cities and business owners and they are not in favor of Sunday liquor.

Stenglein said she didn't know why there are restrictions on liquor stores being open on Sundays, as other businesses do not have these restrictions, except car dealerships.

"I don't have any deep personal feelings but I think in general you need to have a reason to make something illegal and I don't see one," she said.

Ruud rebutted and said "I don't think we should put car dealerships in the same category as the liquor stores. They have a lot of financial issues, such as banks are not open. It's a whole different scenario."

Related Topics: BRAINERD DISPATCH
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