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Congress candidate Radinovich stops in Wadena on tour

Joe Radinovich, DFL candidate for the 8th Congressional District, made a stop in Wadena Wednesday, May 9. He's making stops across the district throughout the month of May. Michael Johnson/Pioneer Journal

Democratic-Farmer-Labor candidate for the 8th Congressional District, Joe Radinovich, made a stop in Wadena last week on a tour across the district.

Radinovich is a former District 10B state representative, former 2016 campaign manager for Rick Nolan and the former chief of staff for Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey.

Radinovich said while Wadena is on the far western edge of the district, "it feels much like home," which happens to be Crosby. While the terrain changes along the way, Radinovich noted across all counties, people are dealing with change.

"One thing that seems to be common is that people are dealing with a number of changes in the economy," he said.

Change involves work that requires fewer people and stagnant wages. He gave an example from his background in the Iron Range, noting that productivity has gone up, but jobs have gone down by 10,000, and wages are not matching the increase in productivity.

"Productivity has skyrocketed," Radinovich said of other businesses, giving the example of self checkout lanes. "But for that productivity, people are not seeing an increase in wages."

That creates another change that Radinovich highlighted, the inability to afford healthcare coverage.

Radinovich is a supporter of universal single-payer health insurance. He said the for-profit and non-profit hospitals are competing against each other, marketing for patients and many patients can't afford the cost of care. His vision is affordable healthcare coverage for all.

"Too many dollars that should be dedicated to care are going other places in our healthcare costs," Radinovich said. "They are going into advertising, for pharmaceuticals, lobbying, administration, they are going into excessive and overbuilt hospitals systems that are competing against each other for market share. The result of all that is we pay substantially more per capita than any other industrialized nation in the world for what we have, and what we have isn't even all that great for most people."

Another issue he touched on was the lack of affordable childcare. Many parents are faced with either both parents working just to pay for childcare or only one working because childcare is too expensive for mom or dad to work outside the home.

Higher education was another issue he said needs fixing. Radinovich is a big supporter of community colleges and technical colleges, noting his father graduated from the electrical program through the Wadena Tech College, now known as M State in Wadena.

"Higher education is becoming more expensive," Radinovich said. He'd like to see those colleges free or at least debt-free for students as these are nimble schools able to change quickly based on the needs of the students, he said. He used Central Lakes College's Brainerd campus as an example, saying that the college saw the need for nurses and built up the nursing program to fill a local need. He said he'd like to see an investment in those two-year colleges.

Other areas Radinovich was concerned about was the excessive spending in politics. He gave an example in the 8th District saying that Stewart Mills and Rick Nolan both put up $3 million for their campaigns, while outside groups put in $24 million. Those outside groups can diminish

Mental health is an issue that hits on a personal level for Radinovich, whose younger brother attempted suicide. His mother was also killed by a step-father that then killed himself.

He said through those situations he dealt with depression and knows the importance of a support system. Just as he said with healthcare, he feels everyone should be able to access help when dealing with mental health issues.

Radinovich got his start in politics in the eighth grade when he spoke at a school board meeting addressing an issue of school spending cuts, including cuts to the teaching staff. While cuts were still made, he got a taste for standing up for what he believed in and working to make change. He later went to work as a paraprofessional at the Crosby School and entered into politics at age 22. Ten years later he was working as the chief of staff for Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey. Shortly after Nolan announced he would be retiring, Radinovich jumped in the race and has since been endorsed by Nolan.

Radinovich was hitting 18 counties in the district in 18 days during the month of May, even while battling a cold. He was in Sebeka earlier on May 9 and planned to move on to Brainerd, Aitkin, Mora, Pine City and beyond.

The DFL Primary election is set to start at 7 a.m. Tuesday, Aug. 14. Other DFL primary candidates include Kirsten Hagen Kennedy, mayor of North Branch; Michelle Lee, former news anchor; and Jason Metsa, Minnesota state representative.