Q&A with Senate District 53 incumbent Susan Kent
City of residence: Woodbury
Years lived in district: 12
Education: Bachelor’s, communications, The University of Texas at Austin
Occupation: Minnesota State Senator and homemaker
Past: Marketing, media and communications
Notable community and civic involvement: Volunteer child abuse prevention; volunteer pre-natal educator for high-risk women; chapter chairwoman, Mothers & More, advocacy and support group for mothers; PTSO president; member, district committees and working groups, South Washington County Schools
Contact: Susan Kent, firstname.lastname@example.org; 651-248-4472
Why are you running for this office?
Four years ago, I introduced myself to our community as a mother and former small business owner who believed we could do better. I was troubled by the direction our state was headed, and I was particularly alarmed that Minnesota was risking our future — and our kids’ futures — by backing away from our longstanding commitment to excellence in education.
My experience in the private sector and as a local volunteer and advocate, in addition to thousands of conversations throughout our community, has helped me understand that Minnesota is strong today because past generations were committed to building for the future. I know that we must make the same commitment to our kids.
We’ve made significant progress during the past four years, but there is more work to be done. We must build a 21st-century transportation system, make higher education more affordable, and continue to ensure Minnesotans are healthy and safe. I remain committed to always seek common ground and focus on our shared visions to create solutions that will make our community a great place to live, work and raise a family.
And that gets at the heart of why I am running for re-election. I’ve gained experience during my first term, passed more than 30 pieces of legislation, and have a bipartisan track record of focusing on solutions. I have been an active member of the Purple Caucus, a bipartisan group of senators who work together to support issues that unite us, and I’m proud that I’ll step into the DFL leadership role for the Purple Caucus next session. With this experience in my next term, I will be a more effective legislator, with an even stronger understanding and relationships on the issues that matter to the people of my community.
What are the biggest issues in the district you're running for?
Senate District 53 includes Woodbury, Landfall and parts of Maplewood and Oakdale. We are blessed to live in strong communities with tremendous resources, but we have challenges locally, as well as larger forces that may affect us into the future. It is well documented that the east metro needs to maintain momentum economically and in availability of high-quality jobs. Strong schools and access to an efficient transportation system are key to attracting employers and residents. I am proud of my work in recommitting to education and in fighting for a comprehensive transportation plan that will wisely invest resources for the coming years. I will continue to be a strong voice for a strong economy that supports jobs and workers, now and into the future.
What are your thoughts on proposed transit and transportation projects in the east metro?
Improving our connection to the rest of the metro is one of our most urgent challenges. We are already struggling in the east metro, and that’s before the addition of 100,000 people — a 42 percent increase — in Washington County during the next 25 years. Building an efficient metro-wide transit system, including the Gateway/Gold Line bus-rapid transit (BRT), will bring many benefits to our community: access to education, jobs and healthcare; ease congestion growth; attract employers, well-paying jobs and younger residents as our population ages; and more. In addition, the state’s roads are aging and deteriorating, and our current funding system cannot adequately maintain them, never mind make badly needed improvements, including our 94/494/694 interchange. A balanced, comprehensive and sustainable transportation plan has been — and will continue to be — one of my highest priorities. It is critical that we act now to be prepared for the future.
What distinguishes you from the other candidate?
What sets me apart in this election is my track record of results, working with people from across the aisle and across the state toward real solutions.
In my first term, I've helped make great strides in positioning Minnesota for a strong future, including here in the east metro. We have recommitted to education in significant ways, including paying back our schools, providing all-day kindergarten and expanding access to high-quality early education for young learners. Maintaining our state commitment to school funding is critical to an excellent education for all students and our state’s highly skilled workforce, plus it keeps local property taxes down.
In particular, I'm proud of my work to get long-needed funding for school counselors and to expand student access to Reading Corps, a proven, cost-efficient program that helps struggling learners read and saves districts money over time.
I've also learned that experience in the legislature matters. I want to put my experience to work to directly benefit my constituents through my demonstrated effectiveness in finding solutions that will keep Minnesota strong today and into the future.