Senate District 59 voter’s guide: State Sen. Bobby Joe Champion challenged by Paul Anderson

The Southwest Journal’s voter’s guide includes stories on the three competitive races for the Minneapolis School Board and questionnaires with candidates running for the U.S. House and the state House and Senate. We also include a rundown of everything you’ll see on your ballot, including an explanation of the city’s two referendums. You can read our full 2020 voter’s guide here.

In a district that includes part of Bryn Mawr neighborhood, most of Downtown and all of North Minneapolis, incumbent Bobby Joe Champion is looking for a third term.

Champion, an attorney, handily defeated Suleiman Isse in a primary challenge in August. His opponent is businessman Paul Anderson.

District 59

Bobby Joe Champion
Bobby Joe Champion

DFL: Bobby Joe Champion (incumbent)

Occupation: Attorney

Endorsements: Gov. Tim Walz, AFSCME Council 5, Minnesota AFL-CIO

Money raised/cash on hand: $43,934 (Jan. 1, 2017-July 20, 2020)/$20,560 (as of July 20)

Accomplishments and top priorities: I was the proud chief author of Ban the Box, which allows individuals looking for employment to be judged from their skills and qualifications and not from their past. I was the chief author of the new expungement law that gives individuals the opportunity to petition the court to seal their record. Since 2016, I have chief authored the equity bills which provide resources for women, people of color, veterans and small businesses to get the training and investments needed to improve their quality of life. To date, the equity bill has yielded over $90 million of investments across the state of Minnesota.

My priorities will continue to be affordable housing, education, criminal justice reform, gun violence prevention, combating climate change, Restore the Vote and driver’s licenses for all, just to name a few.

Police reform and public safety: I will continue to build on the police reform measures that were adopted during the special session. I believe there should be a balanced approach by making sure that we transform our police departments so that they work for all Minnesotans while simultaneously providing the police with the training and insight they need to do the job. Additionally, I would build on the policies adopted by the Legislature during the special session to modify the use-of-force standard, ban chokeholds, address the arbitration system, explore the impact of the residency requirements, provide additional resources for training and expand resources for community-based partners.

Affordable housing and homelessness: The homeless crisis is a layered and complex challenge and we must dig deep and address the homelessness crisis on every layer that it presents. On the state level we need to invest more money in affordable housing, to create more opportunities for people to make a livable wage, provide and expand mental health services and create additional opportunities for individuals to address drug addiction and chemical dependency as well as expand shelter beds. I believe that we must ensure Minnesotans are stable and safe.

Systemic racial inequalities: There are a number of systemic racial inequities that people of color face on a daily basis. I believe we must look deeply with a racial-equity lens into every industry to address the systemic racial inequities. This requires courage and a commitment to look at the root causes of these inequities and develop policies to remove the barriers to foster fairness and inclusion. We have to tackle the inequities in education, housing, the criminal justice system, higher education, fighting for environmental justice, healthcare, banking and combating redlining promoted by financial institutions, jobs and equity, just to name a few. So that it truly works for all Minnesotans.

Paul Anderson
Paul Anderson

GOP: Paul Anderson

Occupation: Corporate information-services director

Money raised/ cash on hand: No data available

Qualifications and top priorities: My career has given me a businessperson’s perspective on solving problems, setting and meeting goals and providing level-headed leadership in difficult situations. These skills and experience are needed now more than ever in our government, so that we, as a nation, and as a state, reunite with common goals for our society.

The violent riots on Lake Street, Broadway, and Nicollet have destroyed small businesses and damaged Minneapolis’s reputation for the next decade. Setting a new course and restoring our reputation as a safe and attractive city is my priority. Close behind that is economic security based on good jobs, affordable health insurance options for everyone, and school choice and excellence.

Police reform and public safety: We must defend, not defund, the police, first and foremost. That said, there are duties, such as responding to 911 calls where the situation involves someone with a mental illness, that require a different approach than apprehending a criminal. Accountability for the actions of the few bad cops is critical and restoring faith and respect in our police officers is needed immediately.

Affordable housing and homelessness: We should grow and improve our capacity for homeless shelters and get our homeless into these shelters where there are appropriate facilities and care. Affordable housing is a difficult challenge, but we must ensure acceptable zoning and densification within each city and neighborhood.

Systemic racial inequalities: Wherever there is written law that “systemically” institutes racial inequality, it should be examined and if necessary revised through the process of legislation, not riots or “anti-racism.” Everyone I know feels that equality means just that, equal treatment and opportunity based on our constitution, existing law and civil conduct.