The Caledonia Argus asks MN State Senate District 28B candidates (Greg Davids (R) and Jordan Fontenello (D)) a range of questions, including one on broadband…
How will you help small businesses in this district respond to the pandemic?
Davids: So long as the House majority allows Governor Walz to keep his emergency powers – now more than 6 months after he initially used them – our hands are basically tied. I have voted several times to allow the Legislature to get back in the legislating business and end the one-person rule that is currently taking place in the governor’s office, but the DFL-led House continues to support this nonsense.
We need to do all we can to get every small business open at full capacity. We need to shop locally and do everything to support our community business owners. Many stores across the state have already closed for good. We can’t afford to let that happen in southeastern Minnesota.
Fontenello: I will help small businesses adapt and respond to the difficulties imposed by COVID19 through cooperation and communication. I will be a conduit for information moving between citizens and government, and a facilitator of policies, programs, and answers for owners and employees by working with other members of the Legislature and the Governor’s office to provide people with the information and resources they need in order to safety navigate the swirling rapids that this virus has placed in our way.
Creation of an easy-to-use website that provides information and links to all services offered by and through the many government agencies — local, state, and federal; ensure it is accessible through smartphones. Offer no-interest loans and offer loan forgiveness for others. Rent/lease payment deferral. Connect small business owners together with each other in order to confer and share ideas and innovate new ways of safely supplying their customers with the products they need. Ensure broadband access is available to everyone. Speak to as many business-owners as possible to hear first-hand what their primary difficulties are. Use all of that information in conjunction with the work others are doing so that rapid, effective, definitive solutions can be implemented.
With schools experimenting with distance learning and the need for rural broadband internet rising, how can you help bring internet to underserved areas?
Davids: Over the years I have voted for numerous laws that have brought tens of millions of dollars to rural Minnesota for the specific purpose of expanding broadband. We had another broadband investment planned for this year, but Democrats stopped this project, which was extremely disappointing to all of us who understand how critical broadband is to our residents and business owners. I will continue to support rural broadband for as long as I have the honor of serving this area’s interests.
Fontenello: Ensuring that locations where the internet is not readily available are dealt with first when it comes to installation of services. Internet & broadband wireless networks should be offered as a public utility the same as gas, water, electricity, etc. This particular issue, along with much of the rest of the nation’s need for serious infrastructure renewal, could be tackled by creating ambitious projects similar to those that worked so well in moving us out of the Great Depression. Pairing government with private businesses in the construction of the lines, networks, and towers necessary to put this utility in everyone’s home, farm, and business regardless of location would help to employ many individuals, both new hires and those who lost jobs due to the pandemic.