UNDATED -- In Minnesota's House District 14B Democrat Dan Wolgamott is looking to keep his seat as he faces a challenge from current St. Cloud City Council member Republican Paul Brandmire.

Wolgamott is finishing up his first term in St. Paul. He says, despite a lot of talk about voter fraud this election, he has full faith in Minnesota's election system.

I know there's a lot of people making a lot of noise at the national level, but here in Minnesota there's a reason why we time in and time out lead the nation in voter turnout, it's because our election system is sound, we have an excellent process.

Brandmire says he's running because it's important that Republicans take back the house. He says there's a difference between absentee ballots and mail-in voting. He thinks absentee ballots are just fine, it's the automatic mail-in voting that concerns him.

The city, county, state whatever just arbitrarily sends out ballots citywide or statewide what have you and unfortunately what's been happening is that ballots are being sent to pets, and dead people, and people who have moved or are no longer eligible to vote, and that is where the concern is.

Stearns County has 32 precincts, mostly in the smaller more rural areas, that will be voting by mail-in ballot only this year.

Paul Brandmire, photo by WJON.com's Alex Svejkovsky

Wolgamott and his fellow Democrats who have the majority in the State House have been signing-off on the Governor extending his executive powers during COVID-19, which Wolgamott says is necessary for the state to respond quickly when needed.

Things such as have a moratorium on evictions, make it so the National Guard can do COVID-19 testing at longterm care facilities, it has an accelerated process for PPE rather than a lengthy bidding process we can get our frontline workers PPE.

Brandmire says he actually supported the Governor having the executive powers early on in the pandemic, but he says now it's time for the legislative branch to be more involved in the decision making process.

The problem is now its not a criticality of time where one man needs to make a decision because of the immediacy of the need, so if something needs to be done and the science says this is what needs to be done to curtail the COVID, there's plenty of time for the legislature to say yes that makes sense let's get it done.

The Governor has to call the legislature into a special session every 30 days in order to extend his executive powers.

In the wake of the death of George Floyd and the rioting and protests that have followed, there has been a lot of talk of police reform, and even defunding the Minneapolis police department. Wolgamott says that would not be a good idea.

I think defunding the police is absolutely the worst idea I have ever heard, and I don't know anyone in the legislature or anywhere that supports that.  There's been a fringe that's been saying that but that's not what I'm hearing statewide or here in St. Cloud by any means.

Brandmire says if other cities want a good example of how police can work with the community they don't have to look any further than here in St. Cloud.

Right now most of the proposals that are in front of the legislative body and down in Minneapolis is the stuff that we're already doing here, the COP House for instance, and community outreach, and the social workers and so forth, those people are already embedded in various agencies within the St. Cloud Police Department.

St. Cloud did have three nights of unrest back in June which did lead to some looting and damage.

Absentee voting begins Friday (9/18). Election Day is Tuesday, November 3rd.

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