8th Congressional District Candidates Participate In First Joint Debate

The midterm election is Nov. 6 and this just like other topics will be fresh on the voters minds.

DULUTH, Minn. – Election Day is getting closer and there’s no clear front runner in the race for the 8th Congressional District.

On Wednesday, for the first time, the three remaining candidates squared off in a debate at the Duluth Playhouse.

The forum was meant for the public to learn where the candidates stand on some issues, but at times, it turned into a heated debate.

The forum began by tackling the elephants in the room.

DFL endorsed Joe Radinovich cleared the air on his traffic offenses and court fines, telling the crowd it happened when he was young and those tickets have now been paid.

“I believe everybody deserves to have a second chance to make good on their life and that’s what I’ve been given,” said Radinovich.

Then it was Republican Pete Stauber’s turn to address allegations that he used county resources to campaign and how St. Louis County handled it.

“They determined there was no wrongdoing and cleared the matter,” said Stauber.

Once candidates got that out of the way they turned their attention to bigger issues like mining, health care and immigration reform.

Radinovich laid out parts of his agenda.

“First retirement security, that means social security, Medicare, pension and the union that fought for him to work building infrastructure more child care, healthcare and education more affordable for every working family,” said Radinovich.

Independent Candidate Ray “Skip” Sandman feels strongly about immigration reform.

“It’s a waste of time and it’s a waste of our natural resources to try to stop a person that has different color skin from coming here,” said Sandman. “They’re coming here for the same reasons your ancestors did.”

Pete Stauber is focused on supporting copper nickel mining and the potential economic impact.

“Over $505 million dollars a year, that’s like bringing the super bowl to the iron range. It’s going to be a boom,” said Stauber. “It’s going to be good paying jobs and we can do it safely. If they don’t meet the regulations and don’t meet the environmental standards they won’t be able to do it.”

Michael Koppy was in the audience and wanted to hear more.

“It was only slightly touched on and I just think it should’ve had a little more airtime,” said Koppy. “They could’ve gone into a little more depth.”

Healthcare was one of the most hotly debated topics.

“For you to sit here and say that we need universal health care,” Stauber told Radinovich. “We’re not… We can’t afford to give you the cases of the nation.”

“There’s all these details that need to be worked out with that,” said Sandman. “I know it’s not going to happen overnight, but that’s what I’ll be pushing for.”

“There are farmers paying $40,000 for healthcare on the invisible market,” said Radinovich. “There are people bargaining markets, steelworkers on the Iron Range who are being asked for concessions right now because healthcare costs are rising.”

Brian Muhs says he already knew who he was going to vote for and the forum gave that reassurance.

“When you have a forum like this you always want to have the candidate’s difference flushed out and I think that’s not always done, but I think today,” said Muhs.

The midterm election is Nov. 6 and this just like other topics will be fresh on the voters minds.

According to the New York Times, a recent poll has the race between Radinovich and Stauber as too close to call.

Both Radinovich and Stauber revealed personal information from their background at the forum.

Radinovich’s mother was shot and killed by a family member in a violent crime.

Stauber was shot in the head while off-duty when he worked as a police officer.

Sandman worked as a Northeast Regional Corrections Officer for 25 years.

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