Candidates meet with College Republicans

by Michelle Moriarity

With slightly more than a month to go before the Nov. 3 general election, local political candidates are campaigning to their constituencies with full force — including University students.
About 20 College Republicans listened Wednesday night as Hennepin County Attorney candidate Sheryl Ramstad Hvass and state House of Representative District 59B candidate Robert Fowler discussed local crime, education and leadership issues.
Ramstad Hvass, in particular, took a critical standpoint on existing county leadership.
“Over the course of the past 20 years, the Hennepin County Attorney’s office has been mostly a political figurehead,” Ramstad Hvass said. “It’s not drawing the people who seek it as a calling.”
During the past two decades, she said, violent crime has increased about 24 percent in Minneapolis. Criminals in St. Paul are 50 percent more likely to be prosecuted than criminals in Minneapolis, she added.
“That’s because the Hennepin County Attorney’s office hasn’t been charging them and is plea bargaining them away,” Ramstad Hvass said. “That’s wrong. We need to send a different message.”
For Ramstad Hvass, public office is a calling. After sustaining life-threatening injuries in a plane crash 19 years ago, she said, she felt her second chance in life should be dedicated to public service.
During her 25-year legal career, Ramstad Hvass served as a public defender, an assistant U.S. attorney and a Hennepin County District Court judge. She is currently a partner at the law firm of Rider, Bennett, Egan & Arundel.
Such extensive legal experience makes her the more qualified candidate for county attorney, she said.
“(DFL candidate Amy Klobuchar) has never tried a felony case,” Ramstad Hvass said. “Times don’t allow for on-the-job training for such an important position.”
While Ramstad Hvass emphasized her intention to crack down on criminal prosecution, Robert Fowler approached the students on a level closer to home: the administration’s use of University resources.
“We’re all University of Minnesota students,” Fowler said. “We need to make sure the U is using its resources wisely.”
Such projects as the University Gateway alumni facility might not be in the University’s best interest, Fowler said, when classroom facilities are badly in need of repairs.
Fowler, a University law student, is a law clerk for the Hennepin County Attorney’s office. He is running against incumbent Phyllis Kahn and independent candidate Eric Hanson for District 59B, which encompasses the majority of the Minneapolis campus.
As a state representative, Fowler said he will work to localize educational programs in public schools and colleges.
“I want to shy away from this state bureaucracy of an educational system,” Fowler said.
Meeting attendees expressed strong support for both candidates. Ramstad Hvass, they said, has the experience and strength to do the job well.
“I think that she is a very capable attorney,” said Orlando Ochoada, the Republican candidate for House District 62A. “I believe that she will win in November. She’s tough and that’s what is important.”