Meet the local candidates for state representative - 42B, 66A

Four candidates have filed for two seats in the Minnesota House of Representatives for districts 42B and 66A.

District 42B encompasses Little Canada, Vadnais Heights, Shoreview and part of Roseville, and is currently represented by Democrat Jason Isaacson, who will face Republican challenger Heidi Gunderson.

District 66A covers most of Roseville, Falcon Heights, Lauderdale and the St. Anthony Park and Como Park neighborhoods of St. Paul. There, incumbent Democrat Alice Hausman will face Republican hopeful Jon Heyer.

The Review asked the candidates to elaborate on their opinions regarding the MNsure health insurance exchange program, which debuted last year under the Affordable Care Act, as well as local transportation and infrastructure funding and their top priorities in office, if elected.

District 42B

Jason Isaacson

Jason Isaacson

Heidi Gunderson

Heidi Gunderson

Isaacson, 43, of Little Canada, is finishing his first term in the position. He is married to Cynthia and has a 14-month-old son, Iver. He has a bachelor's degree in political science and a master's in communications, both from North Dakota State University. He is currently working on a doctoral degree in communications from the University of Minnesota, and works full-time as an instructor at Century College in White Bear Lake.

In regards to the MNsure health insurance exchange program, Isaacson says access should be increased across the state, and businesses should be provided "competitive options" in utilizing the program.

Isaacson says his work in office helped to secure state funding for a third part-time lane on Interstate 694. He recommends that new transportation initiatives should be explored, especially in the east metro area. "We must also invest in pragmatic mass transit solutions for the eastern suburbs," he adds.

As for his priorities if he's re-elected, Isaacson says he will have three main priorities for the upcoming legislative session: increasing career and technical training in high schools, expanding a customized training program he developed for employees in the manufacturing industries and lowering property taxes for businesses and individuals.

Gunderson, 41, of Vadnais Heights, has been married to Ron for 19 years and has three children. She has an associate's degree in nursing from St. Catherine University, and is the owner and president of Woody's Rebar Company, Inc., a construction contracting business.
Gunderson says the rise in MNsure rates "has to stop," saying rates will be driven down by competition if more insurance providers are allowed to join the exchange program. Additionally, she says, getting more experts at the table, including adding an insurance representative to the MNsure board, would provide "invaluable" insights.

When asked about transportation, Gunderson says improvements to existing roads and bridges need to be the top priority. "Although I think it is valid to explore alternative methods of transit, we can't ignore the current infrastructure," she says.

Gunderson says her main priority, if elected, will be cutting state spending, adding that the current spending level is "simply unsustainable." Also, she says she will encourage businesses to stay and grow in Minnesota by "cutting red tape" and loosening regulations.


District 66A

Alice Hausman

Alice Hausman

John Heyer

John Heyer

Hausman, a St. Paul resident, is finishing her 13th term in the position. She is a former educator, and has bachelor's and master's degrees in education.

Hausman did not fill out some of the Review's questions about biographical information. She lists spouse Robert and two children on her House webpage, and she is 72.

As for MNsure, Hausman says the program will need to be monitored and improved, but overall it's good for Minnesotans. "MNsure, as a marketplace, will continue to experience an ebb and flow in available products," she says. "Most importantly, Minnesotans will be able to compete and shop for quality health insurance."

In regards to transportation, Hausman says in order for a bill to pass, it must be "comprehensive" and fund many modes of transportation, including roads, bridges, rail and bike, among others. "Equity for the east metro in transportation projects will require leadership from local elected officials so that we are not overlooked by transportation planners. I will lend my voice to that effort," she says.

Hausman plans to focus on a number of issues if re-elected, including infrastructure, education and the environment. Additionally, she says, "our return to responsible governance, breaking bad habits of the past, must continue."

Heyer, 57, of St. Paul, is married to Theresa and is a retired religious educator. He has a bachelor's degree in theology from St. Catherine University and a master's degree in psychology from the University of Minnesota.

Heyer says the MNsure program has been managed with "a high degree of ineptitude." He says the state needs to find people who have demonstrated the ability to manage health care systems to run the exchange program. "All aspects of the system ... need a higher degree of oversight by skilled experts."

Heyer says the focus for transportation should be on maintaining existing bridges and roads, instead of spending money on light rail. He believes mass transit "is an important piece of the puzzle," but the long- and short-term costs must be considered.

If elected, Heyer plans to work on several initiatives, including limiting the number of terms a legislator may serve, Sunday beer growler sales, exempting Minnesota from the Common Core Curriculum, supporting school choice options including charter schools or a voucher system and clearly defining the projects funded by the Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council, which was created by the Clean Water, Land & Legacy Amendment.

Election Day is Nov. 4. Most polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. To find your polling place, visit http://pollfinder.sos.state.mn.us.

Johanna Holub can be reached at jholub@lillienews.com or 651-748-7813. Follow her on Twitter @jholubnews.


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