Concerned about election influences

As we move into major elections, I am concerned about outside influence on Minnesota elections.

Massive spending from outside legislative districts to influence local and statewide elections has become commonplace all over the country and in Minnesota, as various individuals and interest groups seek to steer elections to their advantage. Statistics show that a record amount of outside money was used to influence Minnesota’s 2018 midterm elections, more than was raised within our state. 

The outside money phenomenon is one result of the 2010 Citizens United decision by the U.S. Supreme Court which opened the door to unlimited campaign spending. That decision also gave rise to what are known today as super PACs, and to hundreds of millions of dark money — untraceable dollars used to support campaigns. Since the Citizens United decision, both the amount of money needed to run a successful campaign has risen sharply, as has the percentage of total campaign donations supplied by a small number of elite donors from all across the political spectrum.

Recent history shows that the candidate supported by the most campaign spending wins most of the time. Money talks. So, one effect of removing campaign spending limits has been to make it possible for a select few to have a major influence on election outcomes. It is a significant problem, and one that threatens the premise that ours is a government that is of, by, and for the people.

Because the Supreme Court decision was based on interpretation of the Constitution, a Constitutional Amendment is needed to establish reasonable and enforceable limits to campaign contributions and expenditures. Twenty states have passed resolutions in support of such an amendment. In many of those states, resolutions at the city and county level brought about action at the state level. 

Minnesota’s Legislature has not yet acted on this issue. One way that you can help is to sign the petition, now circulating in North Oaks, urging our City Council to pass a resolution endorsing a Constitutional Amendment regarding campaign finance reform. You have the power to influence decision-makers, and your help is needed now.

Carolyn Folke

North Oaks



Education and county services work together

We have an election for Ramsey County commissioner coming up. Positive outcomes for county residents and business — like a skilled workforce, safer communities and higher household income — relies a lot on education. Our public schools prepare our youngest residents for the future. Kids who have quality K-12 experiences make for quality workers who can earn a livable wage and contribute to the well-being of our communities. While our public schools are not under the jurisdiction of the county board, the success of our K-12 schools is critical to the success of Ramsey County. That is why Nicole Frethem is supportive of the upcoming referenda in the Mounds View and White Bear Lake school districts. At a recent candidate forum, I heard her speak on her plans to integrate the work of the family service and mental health collaboratives, the school district and the county to provide more comprehensive supports to young children. Nicole and her brothers grew up in the Mounds View and White Bear Lake school districts and she moved back here permanently with her own family because she knows the value that our schools bring to our properties and communities. I’m supporting Nicole Frethem for Ramsey County commissioner on Nov. 5 and I invite you to support her as well.

Judy Rohde




Support Frethem for commissioner

We can all see that our nation’s political positions are far too contentious. Our national leaders can hardly even meet without accusing each other of some wrongdoing. Neighbors and family can barely speak to each other about politics. Trust has broken down at almost every level. It would be understandable that voters don’t have a lot of faith in elections.

Minnesotans, however, should not be disengaging from politics and government. We can start at the local level, where we know our votes make a difference. We must demand and support better candidates who can think critically, are willing to listen to all points of view, and then do something that places us in a better situation than where we have been.

I am supporting Nicole Frethem for Ramsey County commissioner because she is that candidate. While she has not served in office, she has served the public through her work with low-income families in need of child care assistance. During her campaign, she has knocked on thousands of doors in our community and has heard what is on your minds — including TCAAP, flooding, issues with services delivery as well as the challenges facing people living with disabilities. Some people seem to run for office because they want to sit in the official chair — and that’s it. They have plenty of gripes but don’t want to help solve our problems. Nicole is always looking for solutions. She is going to get things done. Please join me in supporting Nicole Frethem for county commissioner on Nov. 5.

Al Cleland

Mounds View



Leadership wanted at county

The Ramsey County Commissioner race in our area has typically been a sleepy affair. We often don’t think about all the things that the county board does. Since June, when our previous commissioner resigned from scandal, we are realizing just how important the role is. The county taxes us and in turn uses those dollars for roads, bridges, parks, trails, corrections, public safety, human services and more. All those departments need leadership from the board to better integrate their activities to get results and the biggest bang for the buck. That means someone elected to the board must immerse themselves in the subject matter, make connections between programs, push people in the right direction and expect accountability. Nicole Frethem is the right candidate for the job. She has worked in human services for the state, so she knows how things work and, in some cases, how they don’t work in government. In fact, she’s got some ideas as a practitioner on how to fix the stuff that doesn’t work. She is also not a person who just reacts to things and has no solution — a trait that her opponent Randy Jessup seems to display. Nicole is going to get things done. Please join me in supporting Nicole Frethem for Ramsey County commissioner on Nov. 5.

Charles Saxton

Arden Hills



Voting for nonpartisan candidate

Recently I received campaign information from the two candidates running for Ramsey County Commissioner. One candidate prominently promotes the Minnesota DFL on her literature. The other candidate, Randy Jessup, has communicated he is running as a nonpartisan candidate and has Republicans, Democrats and Independents supporting his campaign. In this nationally toxic political environment, we don’t need partisan politics infesting our county and city governments. We need a commissioner that represents our interests, not those of a political party or agenda. I applaud Randy Jessup for his decision to focus on us and represent our community. I also appreciate his leadership and collaborative skills and experience as a small-business owner and former legislator. We need leaders who can work with others for our best interests. Please join me and vote Randy Jessup for Ramsey County commissioner on Tuesday, Nov. 5.

William Damberg



Paid letter:

Energy and conviction for job

We have a special election for County Commissioner District 1 in Ramsey County on Nov. 5 to fill the term vacated by Blake Huffman. There are two candidates: Nicole Frethem and Randy Jessup.

Frethem is my candidate. She has the energy and conviction needed to do the job. In talking to Nicole, I found that she has the skill of listening to someone’s viewpoint and acknowledging it. If it turns out that she and disagrees with your point she will be clear about her position but let you know that she heard you. That is not my experience with her opponent. I never really know what his position is on issues. He is not being clear, even his statements about Rice Creek Commons, which seems to be his only issue. Voters need more than that. Go to the web site and compare. What about issues facing the county like housing, transportation, growth, protection of families, and the environment. Frethem’s site states her philosophy and positions on all of those things. Check those sites out and your choice will be clear: vote Nicole Frethem.

Josey Warren

Mounds View



Pleased Jessup wants to increase board transparency

Have you been to a Ramsey County Board meeting before? Do you even know when they meet? I don’t know about you, but on Tuesdays at 9 a.m., I’m about two hours into my workday. In the middle of the workweek is when the Ramsey County Board gets started with their meeting at the Ramsey County Courthouse. This poses a problem for the average working resident who wants to participate in their local government, but cannot afford to miss 6-10 hours of work every month to do so.

I was pleased to see that Ramsey County Commissioner candidate Randy Jessup highlighted this issue. When I spoke to him, he stated he’s advocating for moving the board meetings to evenings during the week, when more residents are able to participate. He’s also advocating for having the board hold listening sessions around the county for residents who may have a hard time getting to Downtown St. Paul.

When we are facing another round of huge property tax increases, aggressive population targets from the Met Council, and a board embattled in a lawsuit with one of its cities, I think providing residents every opportunity to participate is a crucial step towards transparency. I appreciate that Randy Jessup wants to provide citizens more access to the Ramsey County Board.

Laurie Fisk




Vote for Jessup for commissioner

In a few days, residents of Ramsey County’s northern suburbs will be asked to hire a new District Commissioner for the non-partisan County Board to fill a 13-month term.  Wisdom would dictate we choose a highly experienced candidate who will work in behalf of all residents, businesses, non-profits and other local governmental partners in District 1.

We have two candidates who offer a stark contrast in professional experience and views.  One is running a well-funded but highly partisan campaign, has virtually no prior public service and voiced little support in honoring a signed Joint Powers Agreement between the County and the City of Arden Hills.  She has also remained largely silent on addressing the corruption issues with her own DHS state agency but is now asking us to promote her to the County Board.

The other candidate actually has significant executive and legislative experience, has chosen to reach out to a bipartisan group of supporters and has strongly condemned the County’s lawsuit to break the existing Joint Powers Agreement with Arden Hills.  County Commissioners will engage in many future Joint Powers agreements but they will be worthless if allowed to simply tear them up when conflicts arise.

I am just one of several DFL supporters and local elected officials who has opted to look beyond party labels and am enthusiastically supporting Randy Jessup for County Commissioner.  We need a strong, experienced leader who will advocate for our residents, businesses and is willing to hold the County Board fully accountable after investing tens of millions of taxpayer dollars on large, risky real estate redevelopment projects which other developers determined were too risky for private capital.

Experience and leadership matters.  Vote for Jessup on Nov. 5.

Steve Scott

Arden Hills


(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.