ST. CLOUD (WJON News) -- Two women are running for an open seat in House District 14A. The seat is currently held by Republican Tama Theis who is running this year for a Senate seat. Republican Bernie Perryman is up against Democrat Tami Calhoun.

Perryman is running for office for the first time.

BUDGET SURPLUS/CRIME RATE
Perryman says when it comes to the state's budget surplus she'd like to eliminate the tax on social security. She also wants to put more money into public safety, which would help to lower the rising crime rate.

Take money to give them the tools to start going out and hiring again.  I think in St. Cloud, at least the last time I talked to Chief Anderson, they were down eight to 10 policemen and when they do open it up for applications instead of getting 300 applicants like they used to they only get like 15 or 20.

Calhoun says she would also like to use some of the state's budget surplus to invest in public safety. However, she says when it comes to crime the perception of rising crime doesn't match the reality.

Nationally violent crime really is going down, it just doesn't feel like it from what we're hearing in the news, but in actuality, statistics show it's going down.

WORKFORCE SHORTAGE
Perryman says when it comes to addressing the workforce shortage, we need to identify who the workforce is.

I'm on the St. Cloud Workforce Board, I'm their chair, and we're discussing many things like a classroom at St. Cloud Tech for construction.  We need to get ahold of our children at an early age and tell them being a policeman is good, and construction is good.

Calhoun says the workforce shortage we are experiencing today was predicted years ago.

Actually, about 15 years ago we knew this was going to happen we could see the baby boomers were going to be retiring, and there weren't the people being born to replace them.  We saw that but the pandemic exasperated that much more quickly than anticipated.

Calhoun says education will be the key to filling open jobs in the future.

EDUCATION FUNDING
Perryman says when it comes to education funding, the money should follow the child.

Each school gets their amount of money, and I appreciate that, but when a child decides not to go to 742 but maybe go to a private school the money doesn't follow them so the parents have to put the money out.

Calhoun says the cross-subsidy for special education needs to be fully funded by the state.

We have great special education in St. Cloud, particularly where we bring in people from other districts, but that needs to be fully funded.  Once that is fully funded, then about $12 million gets freed up in the St. Cloud school system that can be used for general education and that would help tremendously.

RECREATIONAL MARIJUANA
Both women believe that recreational marijuana will eventually be legal in Minnesota, but they both want to make sure there is a way to test for police to test for it.

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ABORTION
On the abortion issue, Calhoun says a woman needs to have that private conversation with her doctor. Perryman says right now abortion is legal in Minnesota and only the State Supreme Court or a Constitution Amendment could change that.

Calhoun ran for this same seat two years ago and lost to Theis by less than 1,800 votes.

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