The 3rd Congressional District offered new and more diverse boundaries in 2012 when 58 percent of voters elected Republican Erik Paulsen. Although the district is considered one of the most affluent in Minnesota because of its inclusion of Edina, Eden Prairie, Maple Grove and Wayzata, it also offers a blue collar work ethic from cities like Brooklyn Park, Coon Rapids and Bloomington, and a more rural perspective from places like Minnetrista, Maple Plain and Victoria.
Representing this district poses its own set of challenges, but one we feel is best suited to the skills displayed by incumbent Paulsen.
His DFL challenger, biologist and chemist Sharon Sund certainly has plenty to offer, most notably her intellect and a quiet inner drive to effect change in some way. She’s a strong believer in renewable energy, hard work and education investment in children starting at a young age. Her platform issue seems to be renewable energy, which is important as the nation seeks to reduce its dependence on oil.
What Paulsen brings is experience. He currently sits on the important Ways and Means Committee, which helps develop the nation’s economic, health care and trade policy. He also co-chairs the medical technology caucus and is a member of the Joint Economic Committee, which seeks ways to improve economic policy.
His climb in seniority — he has been in office since 2009 — has helped land him in a pivotal place for key decisions and policy formation. He is following in the storied footsteps of two leaders from the same district, Bill Frenzel, who held the office from 1971-91 and Jim Ramstad, 1991-2009.
His recognition of needed tax reform to help keep the country headed in a growth pattern and to prevent the middle class from crumbling are signs that he is in tune with issues important to the district and nation. In addition, he plans to seek a high standards trade agreement in places like Asia, which would help the agriculture industry and manufacturers here open new markets for the future. He also has his sights set on customs and regulatory enhancements through his important co-chair position on the bipartisan Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership caucus.
For the last 18 months he has worked on preventing the growing sex trade and human trafficking issues that have infiltrated the 3rd District and other parts of Minnesota. He has also gained a broader understanding of the challenges that corporate taxes pose for Minnesota companies and how that potentially can threaten a company’s viability to remain here.
On the education front he believes the federal government’s role is to provide resources and follow federal mandates that have been passed, but that states and local districts will always have a better sense of how to educate children.
Sund has stated that more attention needs to be given to reaching kids in need between the ages of 1 and 6. And she supports reaching out to those families to help develop a strong foundation for life-long learning. That is a message that has also recently been trumpeted by R.T. Rybak and his Generation Next group.
Regarding the Affordable Care Act, Paulsen recognizes that energies would be wasted to simply oppose it, but that there are pieces of it that will need to be revised over time. Sund was an ardent supporter of the ACA and agrees that there will be ways to improve it as well.
With respect to immigration, Paulsen believes the system is broken, it’s hurting the economy and it’s locking out the next generation of innovators. He supports the use of border agents to prevent illegal immigrants from crossing into the U.S. and the use of the National Guard as needed, but that we also need to work with the countries where most of the illegal immigrants are coming from so those families are not being separated to begin with. Sund does not view a military reaction to protecting the borders as a solution. She’d rather see a task force created to find long-term solutions.
Paulsen has demonstrated steady improvement as a legislator, understands the issues of importance to the 3rd and has the potential to play a key role in shaping U.S. policy. Sund’s greatest weakness is her lack of experience. She has never held elected office, but some may also consider that her greatest strength, since she would communicate a fresh perspective.
We believe Paulsen has been on a steady path of service that has served 3rd District voters well. We hope Sund continues to share her scientific intelligence in ways that make the district and country stronger.
For all the reasons stated, we endorse Paulsen as the candidate of choice for the 3rd District.
– An opinion from the ECM Editorial Board