Health care and education focus of District 52 race


Matt Klein

Mark Misukanis

Several state legislative seats are open this year, including Senate District 52, which was held by the late Jim Metzen of South St. Paul. 

Two Mendota Heights residents are campaigning this fall for the seat that Metzen occupied for almost 30 years prior to his death from cancer in July.

Senate District 52 includes parts or all of Eagan, Inver Grove Heights, Lilydale, Mendota, Mendota Heights, Sunfish Lake, South St. Paul and West St. Paul.

The Review asked the two candidates what skills and experiences they think they’d bring to the Legislature, what they think are the top challenges facing the district, and what issue or project they’d prioritize if elected. They answered via email. 

 

Matt Klein, 48, is the DFL-endorsed candidate running for the seat. He is an internal medicine physician/hospitalist at Hennepin County Medial Center and a member of the West St. Paul-Mendota Heights-Eagan Area School Board. 

He lives in Mendota Heights with his wife Kristine. Klein attended Mayo Medical School in Rochester.

Klein said he hopes to use his experience in the health care field to provide information and help guide the work on health care issues in the Legislature. He added that as a District 197 school board member, he is a strong supporter of public education.

Klein said working men and women in the district are still trying to catch up after the Great Recession.

“Ensuring livable wages and a balance between home life and work life is something I hear at almost every door,” Klein said.

While door-knocking, he said he also is hearing people’s concerns about the state of schools, and students’ struggles to pay for college. Another issue that comes up is the rising cost of health insurance premiums and deductibles. 

Klein said he would work to defend workers’ rights, as well as support schools and colleges so “that a full education is attainable.”

If elected, Klein said he would continue the work being done to decrease the number of uninsured and underinsured families.

“Our current medical system often rewards providers for production, and rewards illness; I believe we can align health care incentives to promote wellness, follow best practices, and eliminate waste,” Klein said.

 

Mark Misukanis, 61, resides in Mendota Heights with his wife Jan and is the Republican-endorsed District 52 candidate. 

He is a faculty member at Metropolitan State University and a senior consultant with New Pharos Consulting. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota. 

Misukanis served as non-partisan staff in the Minnesota Senate for 20 years, eight as the budget director and eight in the K-12 committee. 

He said this background provides deep knowledge of policy issues facing the state. “It provides the personal relationships across party lines needed to overcome partisan divide to actually get laws enacted and solve public problems.” 

Misukanis said there are four major challenges facing District 52 and the state: eliminating the achievement gap in education; assuring children are educated at rigorous levels; stemming increasing health care costs, and improving state infrastructure.

“A senator who effectively advocates for his district cannot focus on any single issue. Voters expect state legislators to enact policies that work and solve problems across all policy areas,” Misukanis said.

An example he provided of this not being the case is that for the last 12 years, the state spent several billion dollars of compensatory revenue “intended to help low income children succeed, but the achievement gap remains”.

Misukanis said he is running because he is “weary of ineffective policies” that spend billions but do not solve problems.

 

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

Hannah Burlingame can be reached at 651-748-7824 or hburlingame@lillienews.com.

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