Green Party member and University of Minnesota alumnus Dan Craigie announced his bid in the state representative race for District 59B on Friday evening at the Oak Street Theatre.
Craigie, who graduated from the University in the fall of 2009 with a master’s degree in public policy, will be running against longtime DFL Rep. Phyllis Kahn as well as Republican candidate and fellow University graduate Ole Hovde.
A key focal point throughout Craigie’s campaign will be regular engagement of the community’s leaders and small businesses, something he said he sees as lacking within the district.
“My world experience is mine and mine alone,” Craigie said, “and that’s not a good representative. You need to have the community telling you.”
According to Craigie, who has worked as a special education assistant in Minneapolis public schools, education reform will be a primary focus of his campaign as well.
“Teaching is pretty much the most important job anyone will ever have,” he said, “so it’s important to fund these programs.”
As a recent University graduate attempting to serve a community comprised largely of students, the 28-year-old Craigie may have youthfulness on his side in the election. However, it is a factor that does not seem to worry Kahn.
“I run on my record, and I also run on my experience,” she said.
Kahn was the chief author of a small but significant bill this year that allows bicyclists to ride through red lights where riders are not able to trigger the traffic signal sensors.
“One of the reasons why you might argue against an older person is that their ideas might be old,” Kahn said, “I think that I have consistently more creative legislative issues.”
Transportation has been a significant point of Craigie’s platform as well. He has supported the development of a more robust light-rail system in the area.
“Taking people out of their cars and putting them into mass transit is important,” Craigie said, “but you need to do it in collaboration with local neighborhoods.”
A win for Craigie would allow for collaboration with the district’s city councilman and Green Party member Cam Gordon, who supports his fellow party member’s campaign.
“I would be very excited to see the state Legislature open enough so that the Green Party person could be there to represent our platform,” Gordon said.
However, Kahn has demonstrated a significant staying power within the district. She has held the state representative seat since she was first elected in 1972.
While odds of victory may be against Craigie, Gordon still seems interested in the dialogue that the campaign will stir.
“It will encourage Phyllis to work harder in looking at the issues that he brings up,” Gordon said.
Elections will take place Nov. 2.
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