Welcome to WCCO.com’s 2020 political guide!

We reached out to all Minnesota candidates running for U.S Senate and U.S Congress this fall. Candidates were asked to provide a two-minute video discussing their platform as well as answer a set of our viewers’ questions.

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

Responses from Quinn Nystrom, Democratic candidate for the 8th District:

Do you believe racial disparities exist in Minnesota and across the country? If so, what policy changes would you propose to combat this?

Yes. Racial disparities have been a part of our country for hundreds of years. They impact all parts of our society, from education to health care to policing. They’ve often been reinforced explicitly by government policies, like red lining or Jim Crow. They’re often reinforced implicitly as well, whether by funding discrepancies or laws like voter ID laws that may not mention race, but dramatically impact one race more than the other. And these disparities are reinforced by society and cultural standards. Changing racial inequality will take a lifetime of work, but we can start by lifting up the voices of those impacted and doing what they think is most needed. I would start with real police reform, re-evaluating education and housing funding, and making it easier for people to vote.

Do you believe the federal government’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic has been adequate? If not, what could have been done differently? Do you believe there should be a national mask mandate?

No. We need universal, easy to access, one day or immediate testing. We need more PPE for our frontline healthcare workers. We still need a coherent plan from the federal government on what should be closed when. We desperately need a vaccine that is proven to work. Masks have been shown to be effective at slowing the spread and there are certainly areas of the country where they should be mandated. A national standard, science based standard would be far more effective than the piecemeal approach we have now.

What policy changes would you propose to jump-start the economy in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic? Should the federal government pass an additional stimulus bill? If so, what should it include?

The first step towards improving our economy is to make sure we can actually get through the COVID-19 pandemic. Right now there’s no clear end in sight. The federal government should be focused on getting assistance to the unemployed and furloughed workers and doing everything they can to combat the pandemic. Once through then yes, there is place for additional economic stimulus. I favor a national infrastructure package to fix our roads and bridges, expand rural broadband, and build new renewable energy resources.

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What do you think is the root cause of the civil unrest in our community and across the country?

The country is fed up and tired of seeing Black people shot to death and their perpetrators walk free. The civil rights generation saw Emmit Till’s murder. The 90s saw Rodney King’s beating. We saw George Floyd’s murder. Civil unrest after racial violence is not a new phenomenon in America, nor will it end until Black people are treated as equals in our society.

Do you believe that funding for police departments should change, and if so, how should those funds be redirected? Should the federal government implement national police standards?

I don’t support defunding the police. As a Baxter City Councilor I had a strong working relationship with our police department. Together we cracked down on sex trafficking and made a huge difference for public safety and these women’s lives. That being said, it’s common sense that we shouldn’t be sending someone with a gun to every disturbance. We need more funding for mental health professionals in particular. There should certainly be national standards banning chokeholds and no knock warrants and requiring police departments to change.

Do you believe the government should subsidize broadband internet access for rural areas? Should public school districts reimburse families for the cost of distance learning?

Absolutely. The government should build out new broadband infrastructure. You can’t be part of the 21st century without access to the internet. Doing this will be a huge win for our economy. In certain cases, I do think school districts should be reimbursing families for the costs of distance learning. However, their funding is already dangerously low in many areas and the federal government needs to provide help.

Do you think the current Minnesota gun laws are adequate? If not, what changes would you make?

We have a proud history of hunting and sporting in Greater Minnesota. My husband is in the Army and we have firearms at home. But allowing law abiding citizens their second amendment rights doesn’t mean we have to accept an epidemic of gun violence. The true problem isn’t on the state level, it’s that our federal laws lack common sense. There are clear loopholes that need to be closed, like being able to buy a gun at a gun show with very little documentation. We should ensure that everyone who buys a gun has to undergo a background check. And we should make sure that those with a history of domestic violence aren’t allowed to have a firearm in the home, as they are more likely to use that firearm on their partner than in self defense. Without those loopholes being closed on the federal level, it’s hard for any state to do enough to end gun violence as guns can be trafficked in from other areas.

Do you support legalizing the recreational use of marijuana?

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I support decriminalizing marijuana. There is no data that shows that marijuanna is a gateway drug. Instead, the reality is that medical marijuanna reduces opioid overdoses. Furthermore, the reality is that in Minnesota, Black Americans are arrested on marijuanna charges at almost eight times higher rates than Whites, and this has become a real issue of racial justice.