(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 are the answers they provided. This is not a paid advertisement nor does WCCO endorse any candidate.

Responses from Dean Phillips, DFL candidate for the 3rd District:

Should voting rights be restored to convicted felons?

The America I know and love is a nation that promises opportunity and equality, and I believe that members of our community who have served their time and obey the law should be allowed to vote.

Do you support legalization of the recreational use of marijuana?

Cannabis should be removed from the Federal list of Schedule I substances and its regulation, distribution and taxation should be left to the states. Thirty-one states already allow cannabis for medicinal purposes and an additional nine have legalized it for recreational use. I oppose the Administration’s change in policy that will allow the federal government to take action against these states.

Do you believe that there should be a cap on how much money a candidate can spend on campaigning? If so, how much?

Campaign finance reform and reducing big money in politics is my top priority. I’m the only candidate in the country refusing all money from PACs, special interests, federal lobbyists and even members of Congress, and I’m honored that more than 60,000 individuals have already contributed to my campaign at an average contribution of $29. As part of comprehensive campaign finance reform, I am advocating for lower contribution limits and caps on campaign spending — but those caps must be accompanied by restrictions on Super PACs and outside groups, otherwise we’d be giving them an even greater and more destructive voice in our electoral system. If I earn the honor to represent our community in Congress, I hope my first vote is for the Government By The People Act, which would return power to voters, where it rightfully belongs.

Should people convicted of non-violent drug offenses be released from prison and their records expunged?

Violent criminals should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Generally speaking, I believe drug abuse should be treated as a health issue and we should recognize the societal consequences of incarcerating hundreds of thousands of Americans for low-level, non-violent cannabis possession while an entire industry is now making billions from the same activity. Considering that incarceration costs over $30,000 per inmate annually, I believe our resources would be much better invested in education, treatment and prevention programs – saving taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars and reducing the human and societal toll of ineffective and unfair policies.

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

With an estimated 2.3 million people currently behind bars, The United States imprisons more people than China, with a population over five times larger than ours. Of those in prison, an estimated 456,000 are serving time for nonviolent drug offenses and disproportionately affects young African American men. I believe it unjust to incarcerate low level drug users while individuals, industries, and states are making billions selling the very same narcotics. Considering that incarceration costs over $30,000 per inmate, I believe our resources would be better invested in education, treatment and prevention programs – which would save taxpayers hundreds on millions of dollars and reduce the human toll of unjust legislation.

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

The United States needs secure borders, but a $25 billion wall is not the answer. Neither is forced separation of families seeking a better life in the United States. I’m an advocate for comprehensive immigration reform that recognizes the historic role our country has played in providing refuge for those who need it – including my own family many generations ago – and the economic necessity of immigrant labor.

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? 

​I believe DACA protections must be extended, we should pass The DREAM Act and stop using children as political pawns, which is exactly what the Administration and our current member of Congress are doing. ​I support a path to citizenship for otherwise law-abiding undocumented immigrants here simply to make a better life for their families and contribute to a country that is great because of its diversity, not despite it.

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

Unfortunately, there is no evidence to back up President Trump’s claims of a denuclearizing North Korea; in fact, it’s quite the contrary, as U.S. intelligence agencies have observed signs of continued construction of a nuclear research facility and no evidence of dismantlement at other sites. I support a diplomacy-first approach to these dangerous and complicated situations, but I have no faith in the current Administration’s ability to negotiate effectively or strategically – whether it’s in Pyongyang or Moscow.

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

​I believe in science. Climate change is real, and it’s a clear and present danger not just to our environment and well-being, but to our economic health and national security. The U.S. should absolutely rejoin the Paris climate accord – but that’s just a beginning. We need meaningful action on climate change, but this Congress – and our current Representative – have taken untold sums of money from the fossil fuel industry, which has made that all but impossible. That’s why I believe we need campaign finance reform – as well as a new Congress.

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?

There’s no question that this Administration’s trade and tariff policies will hurt Minnesota manufacturers and producers. It’s just another example of how this Congress has abdicated its responsibility to provide meaningful checks on the Trump Administration. From family farmers and small businesses to major businesses like Cargill, which is headquartered in my district, there is overwhelming concern about the impact of these policies on their businesses and on the US economy.