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Minnesota governor candidates face off in first debate at Farmfest

By Ben Ernhart
Delano Herald Journal Editor
There was no shortage of contentious moments during the first debate between Minnesota Governor Tim Walz and Republican challenger Dr. Scott Jensen. The two gubernatorial candidates went toe-to-toe for the first time during the Minnesota Governor Candidate Forum at Farmfest 2022 Aug. 3.


While agricultural issues were the forum’s focus, Jensen took advantage of having more supporters at the event to attack Walz on other issues. Each speaker was given 90 seconds to answer questions from the forum’s panel and WCCO moderator Blois Olson. Jensen frequently used his time to pivot away from those questions and used his experiences as a family doctor to criticize Walz for his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Walz, who was making his 17th appearance at Farmfest, touted that Minnesota had some of the lowest numbers of COVID-19 deaths in the country. Still, Jensen referred to Walz’s response to COVID-19 as copycat measures similar to the ones taken by the states of California and New York.
“There is nothing about our response to COVID, in regards to our seniors, our frail, our elderly, our assisted living, or our nursing homes that would be a model for the United States,” said Jensen responding to a question about helping nursing homes find workers.
“When you look at what happened with them being locked in, that’s not a whole lot different from the students being locked up. It’s not a whole lot different from businesses being locked down,” Jensen continued. “This whole concept of locking down Minnesota just because you think you can, it’s absolutely an abomination of government overreach.”
Many of the panel’s questions focused on the development of rural communities, agricultural regulations, and the relationship between small and corporate farms.
For example, Minnesota Farm Bureau President Dan Glessing of Waverly asked the candidates what steps they would take to support and encourage development in rural communities.
Both candidates acknowledged that expanding broadband connectivity was crucial to developing rural areas, but the debate got particularly heated when Walz responded to an earlier criticism Jensen made about COVID-19 lockdowns.
Before Glessing’s question, Jensen criticized Walz for lockdown measures that incentivized people to not work and “sit on the couch and watch TV.”
Walz gave a passionate response: “what you’ll never hear from your governor is that Minnesotans are lazy.” He would later say in his response, “If you truly believe in the people, invest in our children, invest in our teachers, and don’t you dare call us lazy.”
Jensen said that Walz’s campaign mantra of ‘One Minnesota’ has become “far less a reality and almost an antonym of what we’ve seen.”
Walz responded by referencing the state’s historically low unemployment rate and historically high labor force participation rate. He also pointed to his track record of working across the aisle and compromising on bipartisan issues.
“Compromise is a virtue and not a vise,” said Walz. “Finding workable solutions to move the state forward is what ‘One Minnesota’ means. It doesn’t mean we all agree. It means we work across differences to live the lives that are best for our family.”
Early on, Olson asked the candidates how they would ease the tension between small and large farms and preserve the family farm.
Walz stated that investing in innovation, new products, and creating new export opportunities will ensure that there are opportunities for farms of all sizes, calling it a false argument that it’s family farms versus larger operations.
“We in Minnesota are proving that there’s room for everyone and that the market is going to drive where we go in those solutions,” said Walz.
Jensen responded, “I reject Governor Walz’s comment that this is a false argument between family farms … Over my dead body, will Minnesota ever sell farmland to foreign corporations.”
In general, Jensen argued that government regulation was impeding economic and population growth in rural communities.
“Let farmers farm, let miners mine, let teachers teach, and let the government get the hell out of the way,” said Jensen.
Minnesota FFA Vice President Natalie Beckendorf asked the candidates what steps they would take to support career and technical education to address the labor shortages.
Jensen said he supports more options for students and encourages more emphasis on trade programs, saying that “too many kids are being forced to go to college.” He also mentioned that something should be done about college tuition costs and even suggested capping tuition at the University of Minnesota at $10,000. However, Jensen also made clear that he does not support student loan forgiveness, claiming that it’s unfair to people who pay off their debt.
“We need to be responsible and remember whatever you incentivize, you’ll get more of,” Jensen said.
Walz advocated for investment in the public school system throughout the debate and called for a funding formula that wasn’t as reliant on property taxes. He also emphasized the need for livable wages, as well as health care and child care accessibility and affordability, as ways to encourage workforce participation.
“We work with the trades to show that there are numerous paths to a middle-class education, but one of the things we need to make sure is that we’re paying a living wage,” said Walz.
On the issue of child care, Jensen called for less government regulation, asserting that families want to solve their own problems without the help of the government.
“Honestly, don’t you think the government has enough access to our kids?” Jensen asked the crowd. “I mean, they got K through 12, and now they want universal preschools. I think the government is a big part of the problem when it comes to indoctrinating our kids.”
Beckendorf later asked the candidates if they supported additional funding to hire mental health specialists in Minnesota schools.
Sharing his own experience regarding his brother Bruce’s suicide, Jensen acknowledged that mental health is a serious issue young Minnesotans are facing, calling on policymakers and medical professionals to do a better job. However, Jensen did not say if he supported funding for schools to hire mental health specialists.
Drawing on his experience as a teacher, Walz highlighted that mental health programs at schools like Minneapolis Edison have shown positive outcomes and reiterated the importance of investing in public education.
“This is when we tell our children they matter,” said Walz. “This is why when you hear you’re going to cut funding to schools, you’re cutting money to mental health services, and you’re undermining our students. That’s why we need to fund the programs that are working.”
At several points during the debate, Walz referenced the state’s $9.25 billion budget surplus and $4 billion tax cut plan that wasn’t passed at the end of the last legislative session. Walz expressed his desire to give some of that surplus money back to Minnesotans as a way to combat inflation in the short term. Walz also criticized Jensen, saying that he encouraged Republican legislators to step away from the tax cut deal.
“That’s what is broken about government,” said Walz. “Senate Republicans signed and went in front of the press and agreed to this. All they need to do is pass it, and I’ll sign it today. That’s how this is supposed to work, and there are solutions here.”
Public safety was also briefly touched on at the end of the debate. Jensen opened his closing statement by saying, “We need more cops on the street …There is a poison of lawlessness, and it’s bleeding out all across Minnesota,” he continued.
Jensen criticized Walz’s response to the protests and riots in the Twin Cities after the murder of George Floyd and claimed that the National Guard would have been on the streets sooner if he had been governor at the time.
Standing for the first time in the debate, Walz responded to Jensen’s criticism saying, “Having served 24 years in the National Guard, that’s a lot more experience than watching ‘Top Gun: Maverick’ and second-guessing our men and women putting themselves at risk.”
The debate wasn’t completely contentious. Both candidates acknowledged that they had worked together and compromised on issues in the past while Jensen was in the state Senate.
The last question was also fairly lighthearted as Olson asked the candidates their predictions for the upcoming Minnesota Vikings season. Walz said the Vikings would win the division, split the season series with the Packers, and make it to the NFC championship game but would not go further. Jensen predicted that the Vikings would finish second in the division while also referencing that his running mate, Matt Birk, was unable to win a Super Bowl during his career with the Vikings but ultimately won one with the Baltimore Ravens.
As of now, further debates between Walz and Jensen have not been scheduled yet.

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Wright County Deputies fatally shoot man in Otsego

A man was shot dead by deputies in Otsego during an incident in the early hours of Sunday, Aug. 7.

The Wright County Sheriff’s Office confirmed in a press release that a man had died after two of its deputies opened fire in the 12000 block of 72nd Court NE.

According to the sheriff’s office, police had been called at 12:52 a.m. to a report that the man “was having mental health challenges and had threatened physical harm to his family and himself.”

Police reportedly spoke with the man when they arrived, and he agreed to go to hospital for an evaluation.

But as they waited for the ambulance, police say “the man ran into the kitchen and grabbed a knife,” fleeing the home and “ran into the neighborhood,” prompting police to set up a perimeter.

Per the Wright County Sheriff’s Office:

“A short time later, the man confronted deputies in a neighboring backyard. Two deputies attempted to TASE the subject but it was not successful. While in close proximity to the deputies, he physically threatened them with the knife. Two deputies discharged their firearms, striking the subject.”

The man died at North Memorial Hospital a short time after arriving.

The deputies who shot him have been placed on administrative leave, with the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension now investigating.

UPDATE: FREE Scheduled Walking Tours at the Wall That Heals Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Winsted

SPONSORED POST – UPDATE: Due to popular demand of the free guided walking tours at the Wall That Heals, coordinators have added additional times and dates to the schedule (see below).

The public of all ages are invited to attend FREE scheduled walking tours at the Wall That Heals Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Winsted at the Winstock Festival Grounds. Guided walking tours will take place with no reservations needed at the following scheduled dates/times:

Thursday, July 28 – 1p, 5p, & 7p
Friday, July 29 – 9a, 10a, 12p, 1:30p, 3p, 5:30p & 7p
Saturday, – 10:30a, 12p, 1:30p, 3p, 5:30p, & 7p
Sunday, – 9:30a & 11a

Contact Marv Ebensperger at (612) 203-3665 with questions or to schedule a group tour.

The Wall That Heals, a 3/4 scale version of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, arrives at the Winstock festival grounds on Tuesday, July 26, with construction and volunteer meeting on Wednesday, July 27, and opens with free admission 24/7 from 2pm Wednesday July 27 through 2 pm Sunday, July 31.

CLICK HERE for complete information.

Buffalo man in custody after his father found fatally shot

A Buffalo man is in custody in connection to the shooting death of his father, who was found dead inside his northern Minnesota cabin.
According to the Aitkin County Sheriff’s Office, the 62-year-old father, also from Buffalo, was reported missing July 26 after he hadn’t been heard from in three days.
The father and his 24-year-old son had gone up to their cabin in Aitkin County July 22.
The father’s other son went to the cabin after making “numerous unanswered calls” and found no vehicles around and the cabin’s main door padlocked.
Deputies were called in to search around the cabin and soon saw a dead man inside through a window.
After a search warrant was granted, investigators went inside and confirmed the victim was the father, who had “a single gunshot wound to the back of the head.”
The 24-year-old son is awaiting criminal charges in the Aitkin County Jail.

The Wall That Heals arrives today

The Wall That Heals is slated to arrive in Winsted today, Tuesday, July 26. Winsted Police Chief Justin Heldt and Howard Lake Police Chief Dave Thompson are coordinating an arrival escort of motorcyclists, law enforcement vehicles, first-responders, and others.
The will see the escort beginning at Dura Supreme in Howard Lake, moving up Hwy. 12, to CSAH 6 and onto the Winstock grounds. The escort should arrive at approximately 2:15 p.m.

Volunteers Needed for the Wall That Heals Vietnam Memorial in Winsted

SPONSORED POST – The Wall That Heals, a 3/4 scale version of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, arrives at the Winstock festival grounds on Tuesday, July 26, with construction and volunteer meeting on Wednesday, July 27, and opens with free admission 24/7 from midnight Thursday July 28 through 2 pm Sunday, July 31.

Go to for more and for volunteer opportunities!


Winsted American Legion Commander Jeff Sterner reported that there are still a significant number of volunteer opportunities available.

Right now, the biggest area of need is on the weekend, for 10 p.m. to 2 a.m., and 2 to 6 a.m. shifts. Ideally, these shifts would be covered by veterans.

Representatives said that those time frames are typically when veterans who have suffered trauma make visits to the wall.

Signing up for any of the volunteer shifts is easy – just visit the City of Winsted’s website at, and click on the The Wall That Heals tab. Alternatively, people may register by contacting Jeff Sterner at: or 612-719-6296.

Representatives note that it is easiest to register for volunteer shifts using a computer or tablet.

There are also volunteer shifts available for people who need to sit rather than stand and/or walk. People may make a note on their volunteer registration that they would like that option.

Anyone wishing to volunteer should plan to attend a volunteer meeting and training at 6 p.m. Wednesday, July 27, at the exhibit site.

Volunteers will be scheduled in four-hour shifts, and may be assigned to the entry point, education center, or wall attendant positions. People may sign up to volunteer for more than one shift.