A Greater Mankato Growth and Radio Mankato sponsored forum between the candidates for Minnesota State House District 19B Wednesday night addressed many issues.

Left, Minnesota House District 19B Republican challenger Joe Steck. Right, incumbent DFL Representative Jack Considine.

Incumbent Democrat Jack Considine and GOP challenger Joe Steck squared off in a debate that was mostly issues-focused, with only one contentious exchange. Steck accused Considine of participating in partisan politics and said, “He’s blaming Republicans all the time, and that’s not concession – that’s not working with people, that’s putting a blame.”

Considine quickly pointed out that 40 of the 114 bills he co-authored in the last session came from the other side of the aisle and, “If you are doing an accurate assessment of what’s going on that’s not blaming, that’s an accurate assessment.

Still, Steck pushed the issue a bit further, and said, “That’s your opinion, that’s not an accurate assessment.”

Steck named the top issue that needs to be addressed as health care reform, and, in particular, the Veterans Affairs health care system. The U.S. Air Force veteran said that a lengthy illness nearly left him living on the street and, “Our government failed me miserably.”

Considine said better pay for home health care aides, more available and affordable childcare, and safer prisons are top three on his list. The former security counselor at the Minnesota Security Hospital in St. Peter is running for his third term and said the deaths of two guards at state prisons this summer demonstrates a clear need for increased staffing.

The two each stated that overburdensome state regulations are a problem when it comes to child care providers. The forum also touched on topics that included transportation, diversity, and their vision for the region’s future.

Radio Mankato News Director Annette Weston and Greater Mankato Growth Vice President Patrick Baker co-moderated the forum.