Crookston Republican along with Rep. Fabian of Roseau said board doesn’t include anyone north of Highway 10 or west of Highway 71

    The office of DFL Minnesota Gov.-elect Tim Walz has responded to concerns voiced last week by District 1B State Rep. Deb Kiel, a rural Crookston Republican, that Walz’s “One Minnesota” transition advisory board doesn’t include any representatives of northwest Minnesota, and has also reached out to Kiel since the Times published Kiel’s concerns on Nov. 21. (State Rep. Dan Fabian, a Republican from Roseau, joined Kiel in pointing to the lack of northwest Minnesota voices on Walz’s transition advisory board.)

    Kayla Castaneda, communications director for the Walz-Flanagan Administration, tells the Times that Lt. Gov.-elect Flanagan reached out to both Kiel and Fabian the day the story ran in the Times “in the hopes of hearing more about their concerns and any specific suggestions they have.”

    Castaneda notes that Fergus Falls Mayor Ben Schierer is on the transition advisory board and “proudly considers himself a leader in northwest Minnesota,” as is the president of the Minnesota Corn Growers Association. She says the board is made up of Minnesotans from all geographic backgrounds, and many are leaders of statewide organizations “who are giving a voice to thousands of their members, from farmers to sportsmen to teachers living in every corner of Minnesota, including the northwest.”

    Castaneda goes onto say that the transition advisory board is “only the very first step in ensuring Minnesotans have a seat at the table” and that Walz and Flanagan will be traveling the state, “meeting with people in their communities and working with them hand-in-hand to make ‘One Minnesota’ a reality.”

    In addition to noting that the Corn Growers Association represents 24,000 corn farmers, including many in northwest Minnesota, Castaneda says other statewide organizations represented on the transition advisory board represent many interests in northwest Minnesota, including Education MN, Conservation MN, and the Minnesota Coalition for the Homeless.

    Castaneda also notes that Flanagan, chair of the transition advisory board, is an enrolled member of the White Earth Band of Ojibwe.

    Kiel and Fabian, in voicing their complaint, noted that the transition advisory board appeared to include no one residing north of Highway 10 or west of Highway 71.