Incumbent state Rep. Drew Christensen, R-Savage, and Democratic candidate Hunter Cantrell are facing-off to represent Minnesotans in House District 56A, which covers Savage and parts of Burnsville.

Christensen, 25, is running to serve a third consecutive two-year term after winning the seat in the 2014 and 2016 general elections. There are no term limits for the Minnesota House of Representatives. Cantrell, 2, won the DFL party endorsement over challenger Renita Fisher in March.

Both Candidates responded to questions from the Savage Pacer. Responses are edited for clarity and length.

Drew Christensen (R)

Drew Christensen

Drew Christensen

Q: Tell us a little bit about your life, educational background and qualifications.

I was born in Burnsville, went to school in Savage and graduated from the University of Minnesota. I grew up here, and now my wife, Kayla, and I are choosing to raise our growing family in Savage, where I work as a Realtor.

I’m running to be our representative in the legislature because this community has given so much to me and I want to make sure we keep it great for our kids. I’m active in the Savage Rotary, teach Sunday School at Illumination Church in Burnsville, and work as an educator in the Minneapolis School District.

I have the experience and I’ve achieved actual results for our community. When I heard from folks in our community about the shortage of resources to address the mental health crisis, I worked with both parties to secure funding to build a mental health crisis center right here in Savage. I’m asking for your vote so I can continue to listen to you and deliver for Savage.

Q: If elected, what issues would be your top priority for the 2019 Legislature?

My top priority if re-elected will be to continue our work to make health care more affordable. We made great progress on this during the last biennium. We stopped the double-digit increases those shopping in the individual market were facing and ended surprise medical billing practices. I hope to continue this work by increasing price transparency and providing more competition in the market.

In addition to reducing health care costs, my top priorities are investing in our roads and bridges, making sure our schools remain strong and building off our historic tax relief from 2017 to simplify taxes through federal conformity.

Q: Is the K-12 system adequately funded? If not, how would you pay for more funding?

As a substitute teacher and vice chair of the higher education committee, I have taken a special interest in education during my time in the legislature. I co-authored the 2 percent per-pupil increase for K-12 schools that was the number one request by our school districts and am very proud we were able to get that increased funding.

I am committed to continuing to make our K-12 schools a priority during my time in the legislature. We need to do this by not only providing funding but also making sure that our schools are keeping the best teachers in the classroom and that the funding goes to help students and teachers, not to extra bureaucracy.

Q: Does being a young candidate in the political landscape impact your perspective on issues?

As a two-term state representative, and now a husband and father, I bring a unique perspective to the legislature.

I have lived in the Savage-Burnsville area my entire life and take that knowledge of our community to the legislature. I know we need to have an effective and efficient government that allows families to keep more of their hard-earned money while also looking for ways to reduce health care costs and provide world-class schools for our children.

Hunter Cantrell (D)

Hunter Cantrell

Rep. Hunter Cantrell

Q: Tell us a little bit about your life, educational background and qualifications.

I grew up in Savage and attended Hidden Valley Elementary School, Eagle Ridge Middle School (where I now work) and Burnsville High School. I started my career as a home care aide in 2012, and I have spent my life working with adults and children who have developmental disabilities. I attended Inver Hills Community College and studied physiology and integrative biology at the University of Minnesota, where I also worked in a genetic research lab.

I was planning on attending medical school, but life chose a different path for me when I was diagnosed with stage 2 Hodgkin lymphoma in 2017, for which I underwent several months of chemotherapy. I have always been passionate about service; I have participated in a couple hurricane/flooding relief efforts in Texas and Louisiana, and I currently volunteer as a hospice companion.

Q: If elected, what issues would be your top priority for the 2019 Legislature?

My top priorities are to work effectively to reduce the cost of health care and pharmaceuticals, ensure that education in our community is fully funded and work to achieve a fair tax structure for working and retired people.

Q: Is the K-12 system adequately funded? If not, how would you pay for more funding?

The K-12 system is not adequately funded. Potential funding sources may be sales tax revenue from remote sellers that Minnesota is able to collect after the Wayfair v. South Dakota decision and tax revenue from closing corporate tax loopholes. Prioritization of state spending on K-12 education has to be a priority, which is why our state must change its current course and reinstate adjustments for inflation into education funding budget forecasts.

Q: Does being a young candidate in the political landscape impact your perspective on issues?

As a result of my age, I approach politics through a lens of open-mindedness and innovation. My perspective is determined solely by the intersection of the legal structure of the constitution and the voices and ideas of people in our community — not by the special interest groups who are pouring money into our local elections.

I believe in the spirit of our republic and what our republic can be if we set aside our politics and work to build a future for our state that is genuinely reflective of our values.

Christine Schuster is a reporter for the Savage Pacer.

Events

Recommended for you