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2020 Election Profiles: Deb Kiel, District 1B

Jess Bengtson
Crookston Times

Tell us about yourself, your family, education, career and political experience.  

    I spent my early years helping on the Perry family farm.  Before joining the Kiel family farm, I worked at Riverview as a nurse aide.  My life has included many “parent volunteer activities” such as Jr High group, subbing for Knowledge bowl, leading music for Our Saviors Luth School, Sunday School teacher…  I served on the Crookston School Board for 7 years and now 5 terms as a State Legislator.  

    Lonn and I have been blessed with 4 children who have provided us with 19 wonderful grandchildren.  

What policy area would you consider your specialty? Explain.

    I have worked extensively on health and human services issues, including a focus on long-term care, throughout my years as a legislator. I served as chair of the Subcommittee on Aging and Long-Term Care during the 2017-2018 sessions and fought hard to reform policies around long-term care and improve the lives of our seniors.

How many different state subcommittees are you on and what are some recent things those committees have moved forward?

    I am the Republican Lead member on the Health and Human Services Policy Committee, and I also serve on committees involving agriculture policy and finance, health and human services finance, long-term care, state government finance, and ethics.  I am proud of the fact that we have worked with many different entities to come to an agreement providing better safety and clear expectations for those who are in congregate health care housing.  

Regarding the handling of the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic, name one thing you agree with that Governor Walz has done for the state of Minnesota. Explain why.

    When COVID-19 was still an emerging problem in Minnesota, Governor Walz took quick action to respond using the information available to him at the time. I appreciate that he did what he believed was most effective to protect Minnesotans from the virus. Unfortunately, I believe he took this too far, relying solely on his emergency powers and cutting the Legislature out of the conversation over how we can best respond to COVID-19. I remain hopeful that the Governor will end his emergency powers soon and bring more voices and ideas into how best to help the state recover from COVID-19 and the resulting economic downturn.

Regarding the handling of the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic, name one thing you disagree with that Governor Walz has done for the state of Minnesota. Explain why.

    The policies surrounding our COVID-19 and long-term care have been extremely detrimental to our seniors. The overwhelming majority of deaths due to COVID-19 in Minnesota have been in our senior population, and that can be at least partially attributed to policies such as housing contagious COVID-19 patients in long-term care facilities.

If you had $1 million at your disposal to give to one area in the state right now, whether that be to education, small businesses, healthcare, etc., where would you give the money and why?

    Our small businesses are facing a very harsh economic situation right now. I have heard from many in our area that are concerned about having to close their doors for good because of capacity limits and other mandates put in place in response to COVID-19. If I had $1 million to be spent, I would give out small business grants to those in need who are having trouble paying employees and making ends meet. Small businesses are incredibly important to our community, and we need to do what we can to help them through this economic crisis.

What is your proudest accomplishment since you began representing District 1B?

     The smiles and elation when my team is successful in helping someone solve an issue that they are dealing with. Bringing opportunity to District 1B helping us to thrive and enjoy life here in Minnesota.  

Why are you the best person to represent District 1B in St. Paul?

    As of one of only 4 legislators in the business of Agriculture, it is important to bring that background to St Paul.  I have worked to bring an understanding of how we can work together as we provide much of the product in greater MN that provides jobs in the 7 county Metro area.  

What do you like to do outside politics?

    I spend time with my family, church, and sometimes do a little sewing.

What is your favorite restaurant and where is it located?

    Depends on what I am in the mood for. You can find me at almost any restaurant, I might have to accommodate my dinner partner 😊

Deb Kiel