MN CD-8 Candidates Respond to MN Duluth Members Questions on Key Small Business Issues

Main Street Alliance Minnesota Members Meet with CD-8 Candidate Joe Radinovich and receive questionnaire responses from Pete Stauber.

Minnesota’s 8th Congressional District is up for grabs between candidates Joe Radinovich and Pete Stauber. The race has drawn national interest, with money pouring in from outside groups, which have spent $7.3 million in the district, including $2.9 milion from Trump’s PAC, America First Action. Duluth residents and business owners are inundated with attack ads and misinformation.  

That’s why, MSA-MN invited candidates to meet to discuss the issues of concern to business owners this election, ranging from healthcare and mining to paid family leave and childcare.

This week Candidate Joe Radinovich sat down with small business owners in Duluth, MN.  Pete Stauber declined our invitation to meet, but did send his written responses to our questions.  Both candidates' responses to each issue are below.

Main Street Alliance members asked these questions to help small business owners in Duluth to better understand how candidates for Minnesota’s 8th Congressional District will work in conjunction with small business leaders from the community to maintain and strengthen the local economy.

All questions that both candidates were asked are included below with their responses.

Small business owners (from left to right) Emily & Joel Vikre, of Vikre Distillery, Laura Mullen of Bent Paddle, Abigail Mlinar of FEMN and Elizabeth Spehar, owner of Snooty Fox Tea Shoppe, and Candidate Joe Radinovich


On Health Care:


What is your vision for a health care system that provides affordable, quality health care that works for small businesses, their owners and employees, as well as the communities that sustain small business?

Do you support Medicare for All or another form of universal health care?



I am a supporter of Medicare for all, I would however not be limited to that as the only means to single payer.

Steps along the way…I support Medicare buy-in….and a phase in Medicare for all staggered over a set of a number of years to protect jobs in the healthcare industry.

I do think healthcare is the biggest barrier to small businesses.

If you want to go out on your own and open a business -- especially pre-ACA -- your options are insufficient coverage or unaffordable coverage.

See the full health care conversation here.


I support a patient-driven and physician-guided health care system where no Washington bureaucrat comes into between a patient and their doctor. I believe we need to focus on things we can agree on like covering pre-existing conditions, associate health plans for small businesses and keeping our children on their parents health plans until they are 26.

No, I do not support Medicare for All.


On Immigration:


Immigrants have played a crucial role in all aspects of the small business economy throughout the history of our country. The MN Demographer has stated that immigration is a critical factor to our state and region’s economic well-being  Do they recognize the importance of immigrants in our economy?  If so, what will you do to help District 8 communities be welcoming?



I believe we need to have a responsible path to citizenship…These steps will bring people out of the shadows. I don’t support a border wall on the Southern or Northern borders… I’ve also supported access to drivers licenses.

As America is a story of immigrants, continuing to tell a story of our own immigrant roots and standing with immigrants is critical. It’s our values because this nation was founded by immigrants, and its the right thing to do.

See the full immigration conversation here.


Immigrants have enriched our country since its inception. I support legal immigration where the immigrant wants to come into our country legally and live the American dream. H2-B visas are crucial to the economy of our district and I want to ensure that our businesses are able to use them.


On Paid Leave:


Two federal bills have been introduced in Congress to address our paid leave crisis, the Economic Security for New Parents Act, sponsored by Senator Rubio and the FAMILY Act, sponsored by Senator Gillibrand. Do you support either of these bills, and if so, why do you think it is the best approach to help small businesses provide paid leave?



I believe in paid leave.

A social insurance model is a workable way to share the burden of the cost across employers so that people can draw on the benefits in a way that doesn't impact one employer, like unemployment insurance, where everyone pays in over time, when you need access, there is a trust fund at the state or federal level that anyone can access.

See the full paid leave conversation here.


No response


On Childcare:


Child care affects small businesses, small business owners, our employees and our children. Do you support the Child Care for Working Families Act? Why or why not?



I support access to high quality pre-K programs that are publicly funded.

In MN, I was co-author on the first Early Childhood Scholarships...which directed what little money we had to low income families with limited access to childcare. A universal approach is a better program for us going forward.

We are the wealthiest and most productive country in the world, we have the means to pay for these things, it’s just that we’re not willing to do so, and we should be.

See the full childcare conversation here.


Studies have shown that a child will greatly benefit from staying with a parent in the first stages of life. I believe we need to have a real hard look at how to ensure this happens, how to fund this and how to ensure employers don’t discriminate women during child-bearing years.


On Taxes:


The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act passed last year was touted by the President and others largely as a boon to small business. A second round of tax cuts is now being proposed to make the “pass-through” reduction permanent. Do you support these pieces of legislation and why?



No I do not.

The future of this country comes down to are we going to give away the tax cut to the wealthiest people in this country. I think that middle class people could have a tax cut, that would be a good thing. But we have an overall tax burden. Simple cutting taxes does not mean that it is less expensive to fund the schools, it just means it’s going to come down local property taxes and that’s a more regressive means of taxation.

The tax policy I think is best, is to have a progressive income tax where we ask the people who have the most money to pay a higher rate. I subscribe to the belief that Main Street health is derived from local demand. So when people are making 50-70K a year and  we give them a little extra money, they are going to spend it all, and will probably spend it all locally…But when someone who makes a million dollars gets a tax cut, very often the financial benefit will not end up in Main Street coffers.

See the full taxes conversation here.



I support the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. On average a family in the 8th district will save $2500 and I believe hardworking Minnesotans deserve to keep more of their hard earned money, not the government.


On Mining:


Mining is an important industry in our region - but also one that impacts our land and water. Can you explain whether you think the current evaluation and approval process is to strict, too loose or just right. Can you describe any changes you propose and how they will ensure that mining would not damage our land and water?



Number one: we shouldn’t be weakening our state or federal regulations. We can’t be moving the goal post in favor of multinational companies. I have supported any project that meets or exceeds the federal standards.

I do have deep concerns about the environment, especially the proximity of one of these mines in particular to the boundary waters. The question for me is how do we make sure we have a Congress that has the investigatory ability to hold agencies like the EPA and the Forestry Service accountable to the voters and taxpayers in this country. And how do we make sure the state agencies are in the same position.

We have to make progress together, we have to be able to tackle these things together.

See the full mining conversation here.


I believe that any mining project that can meet or exceed state and federal environmental regulations should go through. These are good paying jobs that will allow our economy to flourish. We can do both: mine and keep our environment clean.


For further information and the Main Street Alliance MN policy platform, see the 2018 MN Small Business Election Guide.  



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