Campaigning to represent District 17A are incumbent Rep. Tim Miller and rookie candidate Ben Dolan. In 17B, the race is between incumbent Rep. Dave Baker and college student Logan Kortgard.
Despite the differences in parties, the candidates had similar priorities for the next two years. Top priorities included health care, education and broadband. All of the candidates agreed that expansion of broadband or high-speed internet service is needed in the surrounding areas.
And here is what each said…
- Kortgard: “Broadband is a necessity in the modern economy,” Kortgard said, who supports the state working with community-led cooperatives and organizations to make expansion happen. “By investing in them specifically, we can facilitate the gap of internet coverage and make sure greater Minnesota has access to quality, affordable broadband they deserve. This is not going to get better without help from the state.”
- Baker: Baker is also a supporter of broadband expansion, though he wants to see private industry take the lead in those projects, especially since the state is facing a multibillion-dollar deficit due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“We’re going to have a struggle this year,” Baker said.
- Dolan: The lack of competition in the rural areas is one of the reasons Dolan thinks the region lacks the internet infrastructure of the metro areas.
“We need more public money to go to building our broadband out in greater Minnesota,” Dolan said, adding he will fight to get more funding for rural projects.
- Miller: Miller believes broadband expansion is a wise investment even though he has concerns about a one-size-fits-all mentality for internet technology. He would like to see more hybrid projects of fiber-optic and wireless technology be eligible for funding programs.
“We need to do it wisely, smartly and we need to do it in a way that applies to each given area in our state, not just one size fits all,” Miller said.