Candidates want to see more jobs for the East Side


Foung Hawj

Krysia Weidell

State Senate District 67

Voters for state Senate District 67 are seeing some familiar faces this election cycle. Candidates this year include DFL-endorsed incumbent Foung Hawj and Republican-endorsed Krysia Weidell. Weidell ran for the seat back in 2010 on the Republican ticket. Hawj ran that same year, but lost to retired police chief John Harrington in the DFL primary. In 2012 he successfully ran against Republican Mike Capistrant. The Review asked the candidates, via email, what skills and experiences they would bring to office, what top challenges they see facing the district and state, and what issue or project they would prioritize if elected.

Foung Hawj, 51, lives in the East Phalen neighborhood with his wife Anna. He has a bachelor's degree in media arts from the University of Kansas and a master's degree in applied science and technology from the Rochester Institute of Technology. Hawj works part time running his own business as a marketing and multimedia consultant. He has been involved in community activities on the East Side for years, which led him to run for public office in 2010. He credits his ability to work with all people and the "strength of diversity" for his success. As a member of the Senate Subcommittee on Equity, Hawj said he has had a lot of experience creating and passing initiatives that benefit the East Side, including funding for Metropolitan State University's Science and Education Center, youth summer jobs, and the East Side Enterprise Center. The top challenges Hawj sees facing District 67 and the state in the upcoming years include: building more affordable housing for working-class families and more senior care facilities; bringing new businesses to the East Side; creating more jobs that provide livable wages, and continuing efforts to fund education programs. "On the East Side, we celebrate our diversity and our education programs must reflect the needs of diverse" students and adults, he said. If re-elected, Hawj said he would prioritize finding "solutions to economic and education disparities in diverse communities." He added he would also prioritize funding bonding projects for the East Side, such as the East Side Freedom Library, the Wakan Tipi Center, Battle Creek Recreation Center and repairs to the Kellogg-Third Street Bridge, and transportation infrastructure in general.

Krysia Weidell, 38, lives on the East Side with her husband Cliff. She currently works as the operations manager for the LabOps division at Pace Analytical in Minneapolis. She has an MBA and a master's degree in clinical psychology from Cardinal Stritch and Argosy universities. "I have a passion for the city of St. Paul, specifically the 67th District having lived here for almost 15 years," Weidell said. She said her business experience and background in psychology would be an asset in the Legislature, as it would give her the ability to see issues in a practical light and she would have the empathy and interpersonal skills to work with her colleagues across the aisle. She said the top challenges she sees facing the district and the state include a shrinking middle class, a lack of job opportunities, and excessive healthcare costs. If elected, Weidell said she would prioritize job creation. "We need to boost the median income of our hard-working families and get people working again," Weidell said. "Additionally, I want my children to have the same opportunities I did to develop valuable life and occupational skills. This means we need to have more jobs available for our youth."

Election Day is Nov. 8. To find your polling place visit http://pollfinder.sos.state.mn.us.

Marjorie Otto can be reached at 651-748-7816 or at eastside@lillienews.com. Follow her on Twitter at @EastSideM_Otto.

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