Kimmel gathers input on issues

Staff photo by Clay Schuldt Mindy Kimmel, right, a DFL candidate for state representative, listens to people share about issues important to them at the Backerei Thursday morning.

NEW ULM — Candidate for State House representative Mindy Kimmel visited the Backerei Thursday morning as part of her series of Common Ground meetup events.

Kimmel is seeking the DFL endorsement to run for the Minnesota House Seat 16B, which is currently held by GOP incumbent Paul Torkelson.

Kimmel is holding these meetings to greet voters and hear about their concerns on issues.

The meeting was primarily a listening session for Kimmel. She made few comments to allow others a chance to speak.

The top issue discussed was health care. Kimmel has cited health insurance as a top campaign issue, and it continued being a talking point at the Backerei. Some of the patrons of the Minnesota Street bakery were concerned about small rural providers being unable to stay in business next to larger giants like the Mayo Clinic in Rochester. The rural clinics and hospitals are often the first place people in medical need go to. If these providers vanish, people may need to travel long distances for medical care, which increases inconsistency and possibly increases the cost.

Kimmel said she had concerns about hospitals operating for profit.

“In the long run, we need a system that takes care of everyone,” Kimmel said. She is a supporter of a single-payer healthcare system that provides equal access to care regardless of income levels or ability to pay.

Some of the audience agreed, but questioned how a single-payer system would be covered.

Kimmel argued costs could be cut by eliminating the bureaucracy in negotiating medical costs.

The question of well water testing was discussed. Recently the Brown County commissioners opted not to take part in a free nitrate and nitrogen testing program offered by the Minnesota Department of Health. In general, the audience agreed well water testing was good, but had concerns about how that information would be used. There were concerns it would lead to further government regulations like the buffer bills placed on ditches.

Kimmel informed them a special meeting on the well water issue was scheduled for next week and would be attended by Commissioners Dave Borchert and Scott Windschitl. The meeting starts at 7 p.m. Monday, Jan. 29, at the Grand Center for Arts, 210 N. Minnesota. St.

Transportation was another issued discussed. One individual asked about possible bus transportation from New Ulm to Mankato. There had previously been a bus route between the communities, but it has been defunct for years. In recent years, busing has become a necessity for seniors and people with disabilities.

Highway 14 expansion and improvements to the interchange were also noted.

Kimmel’s next Common Ground meetup will be held at the Broken Spoke Saloon in Morgan, at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 3.

She will also hold a meeting on Saturday, Feb. 17. The first will be held at 7 a.m. at the Hardee’s in Sleepy Eye. The second will be at 9 a.m. at the Springfield Public Library.

Many of those attending the meeting at the Backerei informed Kimmel upfront that they were Republican, but Kimmel still sought their opinions.

“It is important to meet and talk with people, even with different political leanings,” she said.

The purpose of her meetings is to show that even though people have different beliefs, they still have a lot in common and want to solve the same issue.

“The only way to do that is to work together,” Kimmel said.

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