Gubernatorial race, Hennepin County attorney race

Opinion editor’s note: Star Tribune Opinion publishes letters from readers online and in print each day. To contribute, click here.

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I am amazed that the governor’s race is so close. Gov. Tim Walz has led Minnesota though some of the most challenging times this state has faced in the last 100 years. And he has done so with consideration and with both local and national support, facts and research. Scott Jensen, on the other hand, is a physician who seems to have forsaken the basic Hippocratic oath that is the foundation of his profession: First, do no harm. He happily brushes off the severity of a worldwide pandemic, preferring to let nature take its course. And he pretty much spits on Minnesota’s elevated status as a prosperous and well-educated state by proposing to eliminate income tax and turn the responsibility for a sound and well-rounded education over to whomever. Because he doesn’t believe in facts, why should anyone else have to?

All Jensen really offers is a set of illusory “quick fixes” that are really platitudes for the rich and disenchanted and offer nothing to the majority of hardworking Minnesotans who know that there are few easy choices in life, and only a candidate with true character can chart a course that, although challenging, elevates Minnesota again as a true jewel of the nation.

Kevin Kohrt, Plymouth

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Next Tuesday, Walz will get re-elected to another term, but shouldn’t be. Why? One reason: May 2020.

His decision to allow law enforcement to immediately stand down after the death of George Floyd on May 25, choosing to let protesters blow off steam, resulting in immense property damage, fires and area injuries, not to mention the poor national image of Minneapolis for days and beyond: This represents failed leadership to me.

Although the governor activated and deployed the National Guard troops, the initial result? Lots of photos and film of troops standing around vs. forcibly ending the riots, fires and destruction. Plus, nightly curfews that were established, but not enforced. And meaningless.

Sadly, the governor’s playbook of dealing with the Floyd aftermath was adopted by several governors in over 140 cities across the United States, resulting in more violent protests, violence and fires.

Is this the kind of leadership that Minnesota voters deserve?

Neil F. Anderson, Richfield

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Reviewing the unprecedented challenges Walz faced — COVID and the riots following George Floyd’s murder — the Star Tribune Editorial Board followed in its endorsement with this: “Walz had a handicap few other governors faced: He was leading one of the very few states with divided government (“Re-elect Tim Walz for steady leadership,” editorial endorsement, Oct. 30).

This is factually true — since 1990 Minnesota has had only one two-year period (2013-2014) when one party (the DFL) controlled the governor’s office and both houses of the Legislature.

But why should we see divided government as a “handicap”?

In recent election cycles, legislative majorities have come to stifle and suppress meaningful participation by the opposing party. Why? Because they can. Sadly, today’s cancel culture can be checked only by giving each side a partisan power base. Divided government can serve as a structural demand on both parties to work together.

One big reason I will vote for Walz this November is his proven ability to make divided government work. Passing compromise budgets without a government shutdown was a significant accomplishment for both Walz and the Senate Republican majority.

Letting voters make divided government an explicit priority requires ballot reform — something too complicated to discuss here.

But this election you can personally still make a deliberate choice to favor divided government. Please consider splitting your ballot in this way: If you vote for Walz, choose the Republican state Senate candidate. If you vote for Jensen, choose the DFL House candidate.

Facing an opponent in the wrestling ring is not a handicap. What I’m recommending is the best way for Minnesota to ensure both parties will have their own corner in the ring next January.

Bob “Again” Carney Jr., Minneapolis

The writer lost to Scott Jensen in the GOP primary.

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I was appalled and offended that our sitting governor refused to appear at a well-advertised, statewide broadcast debate with his opponent on Oct. 23, they are days away from the election. If our governor cannot come before voters and justify his actions while in office, while facing sharp questioning from his opponent, he simply is not fit to serve.

Mark H. Reed, Plymouth

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Everyone at one time or another has said, “If I had been in charge, I would have done things differently!” During the first two years of the pandemic, most state leaders did their best to deal with pandemic fears and COVID deaths without support from our federal government. Governors met and strove to find ways to protect their constituents — from children in nursery schools to the elderly in nursing homes. As the pandemic grew worse, our highest-level leaders realized we had no protocol, no standards to guide Americans through this crisis. In Minnesota, we had Walz leading the biggest challenge of his lifetime. He took charge: held multiple news conferences, brought in experts to address our questions and made decisions to require masks, switch to remote learning to protect children as it was too early to tell how the virus spread, close some businesses and keep open others that provided food, medicines, household products, fuel and other necessities.

Then, George Floyd died under the knee of a police officer on a Minneapolis street. His death echoed across the world as our city became the center of protests and violence, outrage and fear. Walz faced another once-in-a-lifetime event, and after some errors, got us through another crisis. His error was not calling out the National Guard soon enough. I thought so, too. However, he served in the National Guard for over 20 years. He knew the power of the Guard and may have needed a little more time before turning our city over to armed soldiers.

Many politicians are making names for themselves attacking Walz. Again, their hindsight makes them think they would have done better. I don’t think so. Thank you, Gov. Walz, for your courage and ongoing dedication to our state.

Diane L. Sater, Shoreview

HENNEPIN COUNTY ATTORNEY

We are all attorneys who worked as public defenders with Mary Moriarty. We got into that work because we care about the rights of those accused and are unhappy with the racial and social inequities in the justice system.

Nothing is easier than mouthing platitudes and buzzwords about justice, fairness, inclusivity and empowerment. But actions are the real test. Unfortunately, Moriarty’s approach was always focused on her own personal feuds with prosecutors, judges and fellow public defenders, more than the interests of her clients.

In the courtroom, this approach can have isolated consequences. As a manager, it is impossible to overcome. In our opinion, Moriarty’s ousting as chief public defender was well-deserved. Her subsequent agreement preventing her from practicing public defense for life in the state of Minnesota gives us some insight into why she would want to run for top prosecutor — a job she never showed any interest in.

The best prosecutors make tough decisions. The county attorney needs to be someone who can listen to the views and opinions of others without viewing them as the enemy. A county attorney must be direct and honest. Obsession with self makes for poor leadership.

Above all else, we need a county attorney who will value upholding the law and running an effective office. Luckily, there is a candidate, Martha Holton Dimick, who fits the bill. She was a strong trial lawyer, a good manager of attorneys and a fair judge. At a time when both public safety and public trust are near record lows, she is exactly what the office needs to rebuild both. Given Dimick’s history compared with her opponent’s, it should be no surprise that she is supported by the vast majority of county attorneys, and quite a few current and former public defenders, including us.

This letter was signed by multiple former assistant Hennepin County public defenders: Colin Nelson, Thomas Harmon, Bob Sorensen, Patrice Eddy and Imran Ali.

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