Minnesota House 16A candidates: Doria Drost
Why are you running for state representative?
I’m running to represent our district in St. Paul because I’ve seen the rural perspective get overlooked continually in the legislature. I believe it is important to represent folks from Greater Minnesota and their needs instead of allowing metropolitan interests to steamroll the conversation. I hope to inspire other women and young folks to get involved with politics as well so we can have a more cohesive dialogue when it comes to policy reform.
From your perspective, what is the role of a state representative?
To me, the role of a state representative is to take feedback from their constituents and use it to drive policy-making, while also actively listening to industry experts and people affected by these decisions. These are actions I do not feel have been taken by my opponent this past decade, which is why I am running so folks can have their voices truly heard and advocated for.
What will be your approach to balancing the next two-year state budget in terms of reducing spending and/or raising taxes and fees?
Our state is facing a budget crisis due to the pandemic, which is unfortunate as we had entered into this past session with a projected surplus. Instead of turning to taxes as the solution, I’d like to find ways to cut costs for the state and maximize on efficiencies. For example, we can reduce spending on winter road maintenance by switching to an eco-friendly alternative for road salt that was studied up in Duluth which would lower reapplication needs and cut costs. Similarly, if we contract with Minnesota-based companies for construction projects to keep that funding moving through our local economies. We need to focus on being more efficient as a state instead of putting the pressure back into Minnesotans.
How would you work to collaborate with local units of government?
Local units of government are critical in forming policies. I would utilize local officials in creating policy proposals to bring to the state level. Asking for feedback and ideas from them on the issues they’re seeing in their communities and then brainstorming solutions is a critical way to create the reform the people want and need.
How as a state representative would you work to promote economic development?
Economic development is critical. I would work to expand this by focusing on supporting critical industries here in Minnesota including biodiesel production and agriculture. We need to create ample supports for farmers and agricultural workers in order to amplify our economic output as a state. Supporting the trades is also crucial to do for Minnesota’s prosperity, so I would like to promote trade and technical programs to get younger generations involved, as well as putting a specific focus on efforts of retaining folks in rural communities so we can grow our towns here in Southwest Minnesota. We must also provide greater support to our local and small businesses so tax dollars are staying local instead of going to big corporate interests.
If you are elected, what would your top priority be for the 2021 state legislative session?
My top priority would be addressing the state budget crisis due to COVID-19 and lowering barriers for Minnesotans to gain access to quality affordable healthcare, especially here in Greater Minnesota where we lack resources and funding. We must reform insurance and big pharma regulations to avoid price gouging on coverage premiums and prescription medication needed to ensure everyone has equal access to a healthy life. Healthcare is a human right.
How do you grade the state government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic?
I am disappointed with the state’s response to the pandemic. We should have been able to accomplish a response plan within the House and Senate proactively instead of relying on the Governor’s office – but unfortunately our two bodies were more concerned with a partisan political agenda than getting things done for Minnesotans, which led to a long-term extension of emergency powers in order to have any form of state response to the pandemic. If we had been more proactive in the response, it would have helped flatten the curve sooner so businesses, schools, and events could’ve reopened sooner safely. For these reasons, I would grade the response at a C-.
Other than the topics already addressed, what, from your perspective, is the biggest issue facing the State of Minnesota, and how would you work to resolve it?
Education is a major issue facing our state. A large percentage of our children enter into Kindergarten without the correct level of reading and math skills, and our overall education funding for rural school districts is being hemorrhaged. My opponent suggested a large cut to public education funding in a town hall this spring, which would be detrimental to our students and our educators. I would like to provide adequate funding for our public schools, expand our state’s early education programs and mental health resources for students, and shift districts towards a multi-tiered system of support for students so that we can look at each child as an individual when growing their development. I’d also like to focus on expansions of specific education programs like special education and agricultural education in public schools as they are often overlooked.
Why should people vote for you?
I am the right candidate for our district because I’m not afraid to take proactive action to address the issues our people are facing. I’ve been to every community in our district to get feedback from folks on what issues they want addressed by the state because I care about accurately representing their needs. I understand people in our district, because I come from a low-income farm family. I’ve had similar struggles to many of the folks here in our communities and I have real ideas on how we can solve our problems at the state level. I don’t want our district to keep settling for complacency, I want our people to be able to expect more from their representatives.
Please provide a brief bio of yourself.
I grew up on a farm outside of Worthington, Minnesota and came to Marshall for college. I earned my B.S in marketing and political science from Southwest Minnesota State University and I’ll be graduating again this spring with my Masters in Business Administration. Back home, I helped my father develop his trucking company and also helped manage a small embroidery business. I now work in student success services at the college, contract servicing for solar contracts through GreatAmerica, and as a theatre director at Tracy Area High School. I also volunteer with the American Red Cross each year to host blood drives and I advocate for rural issues at local, state and national levels for agriculture, women’s rights, education and healthcare.