UNDATED -- In Minnesota House District 14A Republican incumbent Tama Theis is facing a challenge from Democrat Tami Calhoun.

Theis has been in office since 2013 and is running for her 5th term down in St. Paul.

Calhoun is a retired music teacher in the St. Cloud public schools. She has spent the past few years lobbying to get the Northstar Commuter Rail extended to St. Cloud.

Theis is a member of the Government Operations Committee in the House, which works on elections. She says the committee heard some concerning testimony about mail-in voting.

Hearing from someone who said that they received a mail in ballot for their dad who lived with them before he passed away is kind of concerning when you hear things like that.  He's been gone four years and he's still getting a mail in ballot.

Calhoun says she has talked to local elections officials who have assured her that they are ready to have a fair and efficient election process.

I have confidence in our postal service and I know that we can also go in early to vote and then there aren't the lines, so you can still go in, vote in person, but go early and you don't have to worry about the lines.

Mail-in voting is different than absentee voting in that precincts that have mail-in voting automatically send a ballot to all registered voters. Stearns County has 32 precincts with mail-in voting only. For absentee voting, you have to request to have a ballot sent to you.

Tami Calhoun, photo by WJON.com's Alex Svejkovsky

Theis says it's time to end the Governor's executive powers and let the legislature be a part of the decision making process when it comes to the COVID-19 response.

We're in the maintenance part of it, it's not an emergency anymore.  So I think the time came, he did a great job right away he did what he needed to do, but now I feel like we need to get back to the way we normally do business.  If I'm the voice of the people and I don't get a chance to speak then that just feels like we're missing out on the process.

Calhoun says we have to continue to let science dictate the decisions regarding the coronavirus, but she does agree that we have to maintain our balance of power.

I do understand the balance of powers and that's very important to our democracy to have the balance of power, so I understand that concern.  I do believe that all sides need to be at the table when those decisions are made.

Calhoun has spent several years working on the St. Cloud Community Policing Agreement and is currently working on the Stearns County Sheriff's Agreement. She says the calls for police reform down in Minneapolis are very similar to the work she's already been involved with here in St. Cloud.

It's really reimagining public safety and that's what I think we've done with that agreement.  The St. Cloud Police Department has already partnered with the mental health professionals and if they know they are going on a mental health call they'll call and partner with them.

Theis says mental health issues are very important to her and it goes hand in hand with working with our police departments.

I really think that the folks from St. Paul and Minneapolis should come here to St. Cloud because most of the reforms that they are talking about we already do.  We are so fortunate to have such wonderful police forces in our area and that includes the sheriff's department.  They work together and are doing the things that everybody says they want.

Absentee voting for this year's election begins Friday (9/18). Election day is Tuesday, November 3rd.

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