Northwest Minnesota incumbent representatives face challengers
Two Republican incumbents who represent northwest Minnesota in the state Legislature will face challenges from two Democrats.
In the District 1A House race, incumbent Dan Fabian, R-Roseau, is running against Stephen Moeller, a Democratic Thief River Falls attorney. The district includes Roseau, Kittson and Marshall counties and part of Pennington County.
Fabian is seeking his fifth consecutive term in the House, while Moeller is launching his first bid to represent the district at the state level.
In the House race in District 1B, incumbent Debra Kiel, R-Crookston, is running against Democrat Brent Lindstrom of East Grand Forks.
Kiel, who also is seeking her fifth consecutive term in the House, is a farmer and homemaker.
Lindstrom, who is retired from the U.S. Air Force and is employed as a factory worker, is a first-time candidate for political office.
District 1B includes Polk and Red Lake counties, as well as most of Pennington County.
In the Minnesota House of Representatives, Republicans have a 77-56 majority heading into next month's elections. All 134 House seats are up for election Nov. 6.
Minnesota state senators, who run for four-year terms, are not up for election until 2020.
Districts 1A and 1B House candidates mentioned health care, agriculture, infrastructure and school funding as issues that matter most to their constituents.
Reducing the cost of health care and providing residents with choices in insurance coverage are "high priorities," said Fabian, one of the assistant majority leaders in the House.
"We need to continue to support the four 'critical access hospitals'" in Roseau, Hallock, Warren and Thief River Falls, he said.
Fabian, a former high school teacher and head track coach, said he is committed to supporting businesses in rural Minnesota.
His challenger, Moeller, said he is running because of "a sense that I got that, especially as it concerns local politicians, the inclination is focused on winning elections as opposed to focusing on what the district needed."
Moeller cited health care costs and infrastructure as important issues.
"The fact that parts of our district don't have access to broadband is mind-blowing," he said.
Moeller said he also is concerned about "attracting workers to come to this area and getting them to stay."
Kiel said affordable health care, housing—especially for those working in the manufacturing industry, and aging and long-term care issues are high priorities. She also put an emphasis on "tax conformity," which would align federal and state tax filings.
She's focused on relieving state regulations that prospective day care providers find "too complicated," she said.
"I think that's partly why we've lost child care (services)," she said.
The regulations were meant to "make sure children were safe," she said, but "sometimes in government, in trying to fix something, we go from one end of the spectrum to the other, and that becomes a problem."
Kiel's opponent, Lindstrom, said in an email he decided to run based on a belief citizens should participate in their government, noting the last mayoral and four city council races were uncontested in East Grand Forks.
"Citizens deserve a choice, an opportunity for meaningful debate, and an opportunity to exercise democracy," he said. "When there's no choice but to stick with the status quo, or when there's no one who represents my beliefs in a representative government, that's not democracy."
A retired military member, Lindstrom has been a volunteer for community events and organizations.