(credit: CBS)

Welcome to WCCO.com’s 2018 political guide!

We reached out to all Minnesota candidates running for U.S Senate, Governor, U.S Congress, Attorney General, Secretary of State and State Auditor this fall. Candidates were asked to provide a two-minute video discussing their platform as well as answer a set of our viewer’s questions.

Above is the video and below the answers Kirsten Kennedy provided. This is not a paid advertisement nor does WCCO endorse any candidate.

Responses from Kirsten Kennedy Democratic candidate for the 8th District:

Do you support changing the law to release non-violent drug offenders currently serving federal prison terms?

Yes. The vast majority of federal drug offenders are nonviolent, as evidenced by the data provided by the US Department of Justice. These figures reveal that 76 percent of federal drug defendants did not possess a weapon. Of those who did possess weapons, 25 percent proved that the weapon played no role in the offense. Only 18 percent of federal drug defendants were found to possess a weapon that could possibly have had any connection with the underlying drug offense, and fewer yet involved the actual use of a gun or other weapon.

We also know that these laws disproportionately affect people of color, and we also know that a lot of non-violent drug offenders are sentenced to life sentences based on mandatory minimums, which means that we have an increasingly elderly prison population without the infrastructure to support them.

We need to reform the federal prison system – not to parcel it out to for-profit prisons, whose only interest is in keeping the inmates profits. We must invest in reentry and retraining programs. Currently, there is a waiting list of 16000 inmates for basic literacy skills. 16000 people who want to learn to read but can’t even get that basic need met. Women in prisons can’t get access to feminine hygiene products when needed. We need to work on recidivism reduction programs. We have an aging prison population in a setting that is not designed to provide care for elderly inmates, who present a wide variety of problems as they age. We must change our system now.

But first and foremost, we must look at this from a public health model point of view – the first step in dealing with an epidemic in public health is prevention. It is the fastest, safest, cheapest way of dealing with epidemics on any scale.

Should Congress appropriate $25 billion to build a security wall along the U.S.-Mexico border?

Absolutely, unequivocally no.

Should children brought to the United States with their parents illegally be given a path to U.S. citizenship, or should they be deported to their native countries?

First, we must stop the abhorrent practice of separating children from their families at the border. Second, we must make a path forward for our DREAMers and our undocumented immigrants. If we were to offer the 11 million undocumented immigrants in our country a pathway to citizenship, we’d add $1.5 trillion to our GDP. Further, we would accrue $5 billion in additional tax revenue in over just 3 years. Providing citizenship for them not only makes economic sense, it makes humanitarian sense as well.

Do you think North Korea will “denuclearize,” as President Trump says it will?

No, I do not, and there has been no evidence produced to the contrary, despite President Trump’s claims. In fact, they’ve increased their nuclear activity. President Trump’s meeting with Kim Jong II only served to fuel that country’s nuclear ambition and give them legitimacy on a
world stage.

Do you believe in climate change, and should the U.S. rejoin the Paris climate accords?

Yes, I believe in climate change. For those who do not, you may be entitled to your own opinion on whether or not climate change exists, but you aren’t entitled to your own facts. Scientists and experts in so many different fields of study from all over the world agree that climate change is
real. We are seeing the global effects of allowing fossil fuel buildup to go virtually unchecked
since its discovery.

We must rejoin the Paris climate accords, and we must make alternative energy accessible and affordable to the working family now. We must look at phasing out fossil fuel cars by 2030 and moving to 100% renewable energy by 2035 and redeveloping and reinvesting in our infrastructure to support this, which has the added benefit of creating jobs and economic development throughout our nation.

Canada is retaliating for the U.S. tariffs by imposing tariffs of its own on Minnesota products. Among the Minnesota products: grain, aluminum, boats and boat accessories, packaged dairy products, ATVs, and much more. China imposed retaliatory tariffs on Minnesota soybeans and pork products. Do you believe it will hurt Minnesota producers?

Absolutely, this will hurt Minnesota producers. Canada is our largest trading partner – soybeans and pork one of our largest exports. We cannot throw a boulder into an ocean and think that there won’t be ripple effects and that these ripple effects won’t hurt our economy.