Housley takes senior care issues on campaign for US Senate seat
MARSHALL — Eight years ago, Karin Housley’s mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. The journey she started in helping her mother and family cope with the disease ignited a passion inside her which propelled her into a political quest.
That quest by the Twin Cities native started with her successful election into the Minnesota Senate as a Republican in 2012.
“I pushed to start the aging and long-term committee (as the chairwoman of the Aging and Long-Term Care Policy committee), because my mom has Alzheimer’s,” she said Tuesday while visiting Marshall.
“Going through all that with her (her mom) and now she’s in the very late stages. It was so confusing and overwhelming.”
Housley was in Marshall taking her passion to help seniors and families cope on the campaign trail for U.S. Senate. She seeks the seat that Tina Smith now possesses and will be up for re-election in November.
“We need that voice and opinion in Washington. By 2030, we will have doubled our population of 65 plus,” Housley told the Independent.
“And here’s the scary part — there will only be one working Minnesotan for every 21 adults over 65. So we got to make sure we have all the programs in place.”
Housley blames Smith for the senior care crisis that recently hit Minnesota.
“There’s a huge difference between Tina Smith and I,” she said. “She has been with the Dayton administration for eight years now. She really needs to own what that administration has done. There have been huge failures in the last four years. One is MNsure, which adds another layer of government on the health care system. That was a complete debacle.”
She pointed to the elder abuse issue at senior care centers in the state. She claims the Department of Health ignored the crisis for too long.
“They completely ignored it,” she said. “They brushed it under the rug and people are dying. We had 20,000 reports thrown into the garbage under Smith’s watch. So she’s had a lot of bad things that have happen under her watch and didn’t do anything to fix them. I’m not a person to sit on the sidelines and let those things happen.”
Housley also said she has passion for other issues facing the state and the federal government. She said those issues are being ignored while too much attention being focused on the Russian probe.
“I think that’s why Minnesotans are so frustrated,” she said. “Nothing is getting is done because we are letting politics get in the way.
“I don’t see a letter behind somebody’s name when it comes to getting the right thing done. Just take those good ideas, work hard for the people that you represent and get things done regardless of party lines. I always sort of take in pride in myself in being an independent Republican. I’m not in lock step with my leadership. It’s very important to me to make sure I hear the voices of all Minnesotans and represent everybody.”
Housley says she’s not completely in step with President Donald Trump’s trade policies when it comes to agriculture.
“I think the whole trade thing right now is very important to farmers here,” she said. “When President Trump wanted to renegotiate NAFTA, I think that’s something that is very concerning to the farmers when they got a product they want to export.”
Housley said she is sympathetic with the “Dreamers” — those stuck in the immigration debate over allowing a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants brought over by their parents as children.
“I don’t think it’s right to tell them go back to their country because this is the only country they have ever known,” Housley said. “We really need to make sure there is a path for them to remain here. I’m really hoping that will be settled by March.”
Housley realizes transportation is important to the Marshall area as well.
“I think that’s what people in Minnesota want. Make sure we got good roads and bridges and we can have a four-lane highway coming into Marshall,” she said.
As far as education, Housley said she is a “school-choice person.”
“I think we need to make sure every school in the state is independent in what they choose for their education and not have Washington telling the residents of Minnesota how they should be educating their kids and what curriculum they should be using. It should be a state-by-state issue,” she said.