Health care, sustainability, gun control distinguish between 44B candidates at forum
September 27, 2018 Link to story
PLYMOUTH — What drew clear distinction between the two House District 44B candidates were their stances on health care, gun control and sustainability at a Sept. 20 League of Women Voters forum.
Patty Acomb, DFL-Minnetonka, is a Minnetonka City Council member in her third-term in office. She has a background in natural resources.
Gary Porter, R-Plymouth, served as chair of the North Dakota Republican Party from 1995 to 1999. His background is in business administration.
Incumbent Jon Applebaum is not running for re-election. District 44B spans northern Minnetonka, a southwest part of Plymouth and Woodland.
The Wayzata-Plymouth area League of Women Voters, the National Council for Jewish Women, Jewish Community Action and the Northwest Islamic Community Center hosted the forum.
The candidates were asked to talk about their plan for insurance premiums being out of reach for some Minnesotans.
Porter answered first and said health insurance mandates should be looked at and said there should be a “cafeteria” of plans to meet people’s needs. Mandates from private interest groups cause premiums to go up, he said.
Acomb said she would seek expanding MinnesotaCare and opening the program to others as an alternative care.
“I hear from way too many people who are spending way too much out of pocket in premiums and copays,” she said. “People deserve to have good quality care. I believe it’s a right we all deserve.”
Candidates were asked their stance on criminal background checks and other measures related to gun control.
Porter went first and said in each of the shootings in schools, the gun owner had a background check.
“That’s the problem with gun control today,” he said. “What I’ve seen presented so far I will oppose primarily because I don’t think they will work.”
Acomb said gun violence prevention was a catalyst in her interest for running for the 44B seat. Universal background checks, giving law enforcement the authority to remove guns from people who demonstrate a danger to others and providing more mental health services are components she supports, she said.
Sustainability and climate change
Acomb said she worked to bring community solar to the city of Minnetonka, which saves taxpayers $21 million over 25 years.
“That’s just one example of the many things we can do to suppress climate change,” she said.
Porter said he is skeptical of the science behind the standards of the Paris Agreement. He sees renewable fuels as an important step.
The candidates were asked what they would do to lower the cost of higher education.
Porter said the Minnesota Legislature needs to provide more funding to higher ed. The middle class is being priced out of a college education, he said.
Acomb said between increasing college credit opportunities in K-12, reforming student loans to lower costs and using loan forgiveness programs, there are methods to lower the cost of public and higher education institutions.
With K-12 funding, both candidates said public schools should have increased funding.
Porter said funding should be increased to pay teachers what they deserve. He also said that if it’s what the parents desire, children should be able to afford attending religious private schools.
Acomb said special education funding, closing the achievement gap and mental health resources are priorities. State funding should keep up with inflation, she said, so schools aren’t as dependent on levies.
Early childhood education was then addressed.
Acomb said early childhood programs make children ready for kindergarten and help close the achievement gap.
Porter said early childhood programs shouldn’t be covered for everyone but said subsidies should be available for parents in low-income brackets.
Acomb said she advocates for a diversity of housing types. Tax-increment financing for inclusionary financing projects have made it so a part of each multi-unit housing development includes affordable housing units, she said.
Porter said tax incentives and increasing inventory will help. He sees that affordable housing is out of reach for many, he said, but also believes heavy traffic would be bad for neighborhoods.
On many issues, the candidates held similar views. This included: That felons can earn back their right to vote; access should be increased for persons with disabilities; reproductive health care is between a woman and her doctor; the tobacco sales age should be raised to 21 statewide; and, that MinnesotaCare should be extended.