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Minnesota House, District 3A: Rob Ecklund and Thomas Manninen.

  1. Name, age, address. Summarize your personal background and experiences.
  2. Why are you the best candidate for this office?
  3. What do you see as the biggest issue(s) facing the district and how would you address it?
  4. How would you work to spur economic growth in the district?
  5. Do you have specific legislation you plan to propose? If so, what does it involve?

Rob Ecklund

1.Rob Ecklund, Age 62, 4647 Hwy 11, International Falls, MN 56649

Joan and I have been married for 36 years. We have three children, Nick, Jared and Cory. I was employed for most of my working career by Boise Paper/PCA, and President of USW Local 159 for 9 years. I was a Koochiching County Commissioner for 5 years prior to being elected to the legislature.

2. Our region needs a voice at the Capitol with experience, commitment to our values, and demonstrated ability to deliver for our communities. Since 2015, I’ve been proud to serve as that voice for the people of District 3A in the Minnesota House and humbly ask for the opportunity to continue in this role. Our families, employers, schools, and health care providers are facing unparalleled challenges, and at this critical point in time, we must work together to ensure all Minnesotans have the fair opportunity to succeed. I believe that our response to this crisis will determine our pathway for the next decade, and I feel my track record at the Capitol shows I’m best equipped to meet this moment.

3. The lack of good-paying job opportunities is an immediate threat to the prosperity of northern Minnesota residents. As we rely on strong mining, forestry, and tourism industries, the economic downturn continues to pose immediate difficulties, and because this is on a global scale, we can’t be sure when things will turn around. Right now, we can create good-paying jobs in the construction trades by passing a sizable capital investment package in public infrastructure, along with allowing new mining opportunities and pipeline construction to proceed.

4. In addition to short term investments to create jobs, we need a comprehensive strategy to attract and retain families and businesses. The biggest barrier to this is a lack of dependable high-speed broadband internet across Greater Minnesota. The COVID-19 pandemic has only compounded these challenges. I’ve successfully carried legislation to invest $40 million in the state’s Border-to-Border Broadband Grant Program, but major coverage gaps remain. If students can’t get online to do homework, or businesses can’t get online to bring their products to the global marketplace, people will move to where they can get this access. Regions like ours can’t afford to lose out on the opportunities presented by internet access, which in the year 2020 should be a basic necessity rather than a luxury for rural families.

5. In addition to continuing to champion funding for broadband, I remain committed to investments in regional infrastructure including roads and bridges, clean water, parks, campgrounds, ATV trails, and the Falls International Airport. As Chair of the House Veterans and Military Affairs Committee, I’ll also continue to work on solutions to help veterans and their families have a brighter future, including expanded veterans’ courts, access to health care services (especially mental health and chemical dependency), housing, and job opportunities. I’ll work to protect our outdoor heritage through funding for habitat and measures to prevent the spread of Chronic Wasting Disease.

Thomas Manninen

1. Thomas Manninen 23 820 5th Ave. Littlefork, Minnesota. Former warehouse worker at Coca Cola High Country. Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science and Criminal Justice. Juris Doctor candidate at Mitchell Hamline School of Law.

2. We need what we haven’t had for far too long: A representative that can push back against the Twin Cities DFL agenda. Politics as usual has left the northland behind. I am in the best position to fight against the harmful twin cities first agenda.

3. Right now we have a government that doesn’t care about greater Minnesota. They oppose Enbridge Line 3, Polymet, Twin Metals, and other projects that will bring good paying jobs to the great people of this district. The Twin Cities DFL has adopted a radical agenda that only caters to the interests of political insiders and the twin cities. Our current representation fervently supports this radical and destructive agenda. I will fight back against this and restore a government that truly advocates for all of us.

4. Minnesota is one of the highest taxed states in the nation. Behind the guise of safety, the Walz administration has launched a war on jobs in greater Minnesota. He is using taxpayer money to shut down the Enbridge Line 3 project and will likely do the same for the Twin Metals and Polymet projects. First and foremost, I will support projects that will bring good paying jobs to this district. It’s sad that our elected leaders have refused to fight for something so essential to our prosperity. I will also work to lower your taxes and will oppose any new tax increases that the Twin Cities DFL tries to raise on you. During this pandemic, the Twin Cities DFL, along with our representation, opposed federal aid to be used in greater Minnesota until they received 150 million dollars for Minneapolis and St. Paul. This district isn’t a bargaining chip for Twin Cities’ interests. I will fight to reduce our state’s income and corporate taxes. This will allow all of us to keep more of our money, and aid in job creation. I will also advocate for small business owners who, because of the Metro agenda, struggle to survive in this hostile business climate. The American dream should be open to all of Minnesota, not just those who support the Twin Cities DFL.

5. One of the things I will fight to accomplish if elected is to repeal the tax on Social Security benefits. Our seniors spent their lives paying into the Social Security system. The Twin Cities DFL decided they could take money from seniors to pay for projects like light rail. The burden of paying for light rail shouldn’t fall on the backs of our hardworking people up here. If the people of Hennepin and Ramsey counties want more of these useless public projects, let them foot the bill. It’s heartbreaking to see our current representation side with those who wish to pass the bill on to all of us up here.