This past Saturday, Democratic Congressional candidate Quinn Nystrom and supporters gathered next to the Premier Theatre in Cloquet for a rally. Nystrom is taking on Pete Stauber, who currently represents the Minnesota’s 8th Congressional District which stretches from Chisago County near the Twin Cities northwest to Grand Portage, west to Koochiching County and southwest to Wadena County. Afterwards, I sat down with Nystrom for an interview on her candidacy and platform.

Nystrom was born and raised in Baxter, MN, a fourth generation resident of Crow Wing County.

She’s married to an Iron Ranger from Hibbing and is mother of two stepdaughters. A small business owner, she makes her living speaking to medical professionals and caregivers on how to communicate with chronic illness and diabetes patients. In 2014, she published a book entitled: If I kiss you, will I get diabetes?

Quinn began state and federal health care policy work at age 16. She’s been engaged in advocacy for more federal funding for the CDC and for a cure for diabetes. In recent years, as insulin prices have soared, she has organized three Caravans to Canada, where insulin is 10 to 12 times cheaper, available as an over-the-counter medicine. “Health insurance companies’ policies are dictating how much you can have, and lots of people are paying the list price. They’re a posterchild for our broken health care system.”

Nystrom began her work in politics by running for the Baxter City Council. “We had an all-man Council, and all men running for Council. My Mom encouraged me: ‘you have to get yourself out there.’ So I ran and won.”

Quinn decided to run for the 8th District seat after meeting with incumbent Pete Stauber in Washington during an insulin advocacy effort. She explained the insulin problem to him and asked him to hold a roundtable on the issue in the 8th District. Representative Stauber promised to be an advocate and hold the roundtable, but did not follow through.

Nystrom’s priorities include legislating consistent and fair funding for public education, better pay for teachers, raising the minimum wage, and getting money out of politics. She advocates for giving Natives a seat at the table. She supports combatting climate change through policies such as public funding for weatherization and renewal energy such as solar and ground source heating that will also create lots of good-paying jobs. Because educational employment disparities are increasing, especially between urban and rural, she advocates for ensuring internet access to all. “Farmers are selling online. Many of us are working at home. Students are studying at home. We have an obligation to provide all of our citizens with the same opportunities.”

Ann Markusen

Red Clover Township, Carlton County

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