Tell us about yourself. Family, education, career, hobbies, etc.
I was born and raised on a family farm just south of Crookston. I am a graduate of Crookston Public Schools. My husband, Lonn and I own and operate a farm in Hammond Township, and I am the only female farmer currently serving in the Legislature. My husband and I have four children, and fifteen wonderful grandchildren. I previously served as Chair of the Crookston Public School Board, and am an active member of Our Savior’s Lutheran Church.
I have been the State Representative for our community since 2010, and it’s been an absolute privilege to serve the people and priorities of our district at the Capitol.
What have been a few of your key accomplishments as representative?
Over the past two years, we have accomplished a number of wonderful things for Northwest Minnesota.
We secured the largest middle-class tax relief package for Minnesotans in nearly twenty years, helping families, seniors, Main Street businesses, farmers and hardworking taxpayers keep more of their hard earned money.
The rising cost of health care has been a real concern for folks in our area, and meaningful reforms that significantly lowered average premiums, put an end to surprise billing, protected access to life-saving treatment, and increased access and choice for Minnesotans were signed into law. 2019 rates on the individual market are dropping on average between 7.4 and 27.7 percent. That’s a huge turn around compared to the double-digit premium increases we were seeing year after year including up to 67 percent just two years ago.
As Chair of the Aging and Long-Term Care Committee, I was proud to lead on legislation this session to protect our seniors and vulnerable adults. With aging parents, protecting our seniors and addressing elder abuse is an issue I am incredibly passionate about, and it’s something I plan to continue working on in future sessions if re-elected. Additionally, I also secured funding for North Country Food Bank which serves families in need throughout NW MN, our local colleges and universities, and local clean water projects, and also co-authored legislation to expand Digi-Key and help bring more good-paying jobs to our area.
How do you keep (rural) Greater Minnesota in the forefront in St. Paul?
As a farmer, mother, grandparent and life-long resident of Northwest Minnesota, I know our area is a wonderful place to live, work and raise a family. I want it to continue to be a wonderful place for generations to come, and it’s why I fight for our commonsense rural priorities at the Capitol.
Serving in the Legislature, I always advocate for our area first. That means fighting for meaningful, middle-class tax relief and solutions to lower health care costs for Minnesotans hurt by Obamacare. It also means supporting small city road projects, infrastructure needs, broadband expansion, workforce housing, and bonding projects for our community. But advocating for the needs of NW MN also means pushing back against funding wasteful projects like Southwest Light Rail or standing against burdensome, overregulation on our farmers.
I think we have successfully done a number of meaningful things for rural Minnesota over the past few years.
What has been the most difficult part of representing District 1B? The most rewarding?
I think the most difficult part of representing District 1B is traveling away from my family so much during the legislative session. It can be quite a trip traveling between Crookston and St. Paul every week over several months.
But even with that travel, serving our district is more than worth it. It’s an absolute privilege to work for Northwest Minnesota, and it’s incredibly rewarding when you see the work you do at the Capitol make a real and positive impact on the people you represent. Helping solve problems for constituents and working for our community is a joy.
What’s the first issue you will try to tackle if re-elected?
After the federal government passed sweeping middle-class tax reform last year, it’s critical that the Legislature and Governor address federal tax conformity when we return in January. We want to be sure taxpayers don’t face unnecessary complications when filing their 2018 tax returns, and that Minnesotans are able to take full advantage of state and federal tax relief and keep more of their hard earned money.
If you could go back in time and have the career your 6-year-old self wanted you to have, what would that be?
My six year old self wanted to be a nurse, which makes sense since I have spent much of my life taking care of family members with medical challenges. It has always been rewarding to care for others in need. I know we have many wonderful nurses, doctors, medical professionals and caretakers in Northwest Minnesota, and I am so thankful for all that they do.
Tell us something unique about yourself that not many people know. Special talents? Fun collections?
I have always enjoyed participating in music—especially singing in church. I also enjoy sewing and creating unique pieces, whether it’s for my grandchildren or my home.