Our endorsements for the primaries

The party primaries are finally upon us. Tomorrow, for the first time in many years, the University will be in session during the primary, giving many more students the opportunity to vote and influence who will represent the parties in the general elections on Nov. 7.
Besides the U.S. Senate DFL primary (we endorsed Jerry Janezich back in June during the DFL convention), three primaries in particular should be of interest to University students: The University’s district, 59B, will witness the first DFL primary in 16 years, with incumbent Phyllis Kahn facing off against her challenger, Brian Biele; fourth Congressional district Rep. Bruce Vento’s decision not to run for another term has created a tight race for that district’s DFL nomination, with four primary candidates in all; another four-way race will determine the Independence Party candidate who will vie against the DFL, the Constitution Party and Sen. Rod Grams for the Republican senator’s U.S. Senate seat. Below, we list our endorsements for each’s party’s primary.
District 59B
The DFL primary tomorrow will give members of the 59B community a choice between two unique candidates. Despite the distinctive service that Rep. Phyllis Kahn has given for the past 28 years, the time for change and progress has arrived. Her challenger in the primary, Brian Biele, brings not only an incredible wealth of experience as a community organizer, but also the vision that will benefit the entire community and deserves the opportunity to run against Ben Bowman, another fresh face, in the general election.
Biele would focus on many issues that are immediately relevant to the people of 59B. Two committees he says he would join if elected are housing and higher education. With the skyrocketing costs and lack of housing, it is increasingly becoming a vital issue that needs to be addressed in our district. Having representation on the housing committee would be a good start. Along with this, considering that 59B encompasses the University, it is vital to have our representative sit on the higher education committee in order to be involved in the decisions that will directly affect the students that he represents.
While Rep. Kahn has had a positive impact in the Legislature, in many ways, she addresses issues that concern all Minnesota citizens, rather than those that are unique to 59B. Dealing with the practical and ethical applications of genetically modified foods, funding for displaced homemakers and prohibiting corporal punishment in public schools are all important issues, but not necessarily pressing or vital to the residents of this community. Her focus seems to be wider than what 59B is looking for.
Rep. Kahn’s extended service and wide variety of legislation shows her commitment to government; her intimate knowledge of the Legislature should not be discounted. Still, after 28 years, it is time for our continually changing district to create some change of its own. Biele will bring new ideas to the Legislature. He deserves support in the DFL primary tomorrow.
Fourth Congressional district
Of the four DFL primary candidates running for Bruce Vento’s Fourth Congressional District seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, Steve Novak has the most experience and is the most qualified candidate.
There are no surprises in Novak’s traditionally Democratic agenda. He wants to expand health care to the uninsured, work for campaign-finance reform and lower the cost of prescription drugs for consumers. His mild economic policy involves splitting the budget surplus among social spending, debt reduction and tax cuts. He believes a woman has the right to have an abortion and supports the Equal Rights Amendment.
Throughout his eight years as a state representative and 17 years as a state senator, Novak has shown incredible strength as a leader, authoring a string of landmark bills including the largest affordable-housing program in the state history.
Novak wants to increase education funding and supports tax breaks for higher-education tuition, making him a desirable candidate for a University student seeking a more affordable education.
U.S. Senate
Independence Party candidates James Gibson, Buford Johnson, Leslie Davis and Fred Askew all come from a variety of backgrounds and extrude very different agendas. The one candidate from Gov. Jesse Ventura’s party that could realistically compete against incumbent Sen. Rod Grams and the yet-to-be-decided DFL candidate is James Gibson.
Although Gibson — the officially endorsed candidate — has never been politically active, his unabashed honesty and entrepreneurial background would be a novelty in the Senate. Fifteen years ago, Gibson began peddling his own line of editing software, creating a million-dollar company from scratch.
The software developer is applying that same tenacity to his senatorial campaign. Although aware of his lack of notoriety — a Star Tribune poll estimated only 10 percent of Minnesotans actually know who he is — Gibson believes that “anything can happen in Minnesota.”
Excepting tax cuts, his economic policies follow conservative principals. He wants to privatize Social Security and use the budget surplus to repay the $5.6 trillion national debt. According to Gibson, tax cuts are irresponsible.
He calls for “intergenerational justice” — preparing the nation, economically and environmentally, for the next generation.