Lt. Gov. candidate Tina Smith makes rounds at U

by Roy Aker

With the legislative session wrapping up, Gov. Mark Dayton’s running mate, Tina Smith is getting a head start on the campaign trail.

Smith toured the University of Minnesota Tuesday, making stops to visit President Eric Kaler, Board of Regents members and researchers at the Lillehei Heart Institute and Veterinary Diagnostics Lab.

“I really wanted to talk today about the work that’s happening at the University to build innovation and turn that into economic opportunity for the state,” she said.

The day also included a question and answer session with about 15 students in Dinkytown, organized by the College Democrats at the University of Minnesota student group.

Smith spoke on some of the efforts DFLers have made this session, including raising the minimum wage and signing a tax break bill ­– all issues Smith said affects students directly.

Students raised questions on the statewide achievement gap and her thoughts on frac sand mining in southeastern Minnesota.

“Young voters are, rightly so, really focused on environmental issues,” she said, noting that students offer a unique perspective on social issues.

“It’s just really great and refreshing to see that openness that young voters have,” she said.

If elected, Smith told students she’ll be working with Dayton in 2015 to help invest more in education and transportation.

Preparing herself for the November elections, Smith said she’s ready to join Dayton on the campaign trail after he finishes his legislative duties this session, which ends May 19.

“I know that he’s so eager to get out talking to Minnesotans,” she said. “We have a lot challenges ahead of us.”