DFLers Maria Isa Perez-Hedges and Anna Botz are running for the Minnesota House of Representatives in District 65B for the seat that is being vacated by Carlos Mariani, who is not seeking re-election after 16 terms.

District 65B includes downtown Saint Paul, the adjacent West End and Capitol areas, the West Side and the northern part of West Saint Paul (see map below).

MyVillager asked the candidates about their qualifications for the Senate and their positions on promoting safe and affordable housing, turning back the rising incidence of crime and whether or not to amend Minnesota’s abortion laws given the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe vs. Wade.

Perez-Hedges, 35, serves as the director of mentorship for the Twin Cities Mobile Jazz Project. “I’ve been a leader in the fight for affordable health care in Minnesota, advocating for the passage of the Alec Smith Insulin Affordability Act,” she said. “I’m an alumna of the Wilder Foundation Community Equity Program. For my work educating incarcerated youth in Minnesota, I received the National Hispana Leadership Institute’s Rising Latina Star award.”

As a lifelong resident of the West Side, Perez-Hedges said, “I’ve seen firsthand the damage caused by inflated housing costs. Rents are skyrocketing. We have a shortage of affordable units. And residents looking to be first-time homeowners are locked out of an unaffordable market. At the Capitol I’ll push for investments and policies to protect renters and working-class families, supporting affordable housing across all income ranges.”

Perez-Hedges said that from her work with youths and support of families, it has become clear that “we’re experiencing braided crises, including a mental health emergency, opiate epidemic and distrust in the accountability of public safety officers. We need a greater investment in resources and trust-building mechanisms for our communities, especially our young people.

“As the U.S. Supreme Court walks back fundamental human rights pro­tections, our state must safe­­guard the right to choose,” said Perez-Hedges. “Access to health care is determined largely by race, class  and zip code. We can lead as a state where the full humanity of women and LGBT+ Minnesotans is recognized under the law.”

Botz did not respond to MyVillager‘s candidate’s survey. A resident of the West Side, she is a professional photographer and small-business owner who went to work in a grocery store when her photography business dried up at the outset of the pandemic.

The winner of the District 65B DFL primary on August 9 will face Republican Kevin Fjelsted of the West End in the November 8 general election.

House Districts 65A & 65B
The map above shows the new boundaries of Senate District 65 following redistricting after the 2020 Census. The border between House Districts 65A and 65B runs south along I-35E to University Avenue, then west to Rice Street and south to John Ireland and Kellogg boulevards.

— Dale Mischke


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