It comes as a surprise to no one that the political season is here. In fact, many would argue it has been here for quite some time, when you consider the never-ending 2016 presidential campaign that’s been underway for three years.

While the mud has been flying for what seems to be an eternity, that doesn’t mean we need to subject Minnesotans to the same dirt and grime.

That is why it’s disappointing, although not surprising, that the DFL, in its misleading art of redirection and distraction, is choosing to launch a baseless barrage of personal attacks on me and my family (“Mills’ history on social media should rule him out for office,” Aug. 3).

For those who don’t know me, I’m Stewart Mills. I live in Nisswa. I’m a happy, devoted husband with a son, 9, and daughter, 7. My wife and kids mean more to me than anything. I have two stepsons and a stepdaughter who is a single mother of three, and I am proud to support her through the numerous challenges many Minnesotans like her face.

For six generations, my family has lived and worked in Minnesota’s Eighth Congressional District. For three decades, I worked at my family’s businesses, Mills Fleet Farm and Mills Automotive Group, where I learned the meaning of hard work and what it takes to grow jobs and successfully maintain a Main Street-oriented business.

As I travel around my part of the state, I hear from Republicans, independents and, quite frankly, many Democrats who are fed up with Washington’s way of doing business. They are fed up with the petty, partisan, political attacks. They are tired of members of Congress who talk a big game, then refuse to back it up. They are weary of politicians who refuse to run on their own records, instead launching sleazy and personal attacks against each other.

State Rep. Jennifer Schultz’s Aug. 3 missive, following the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s script, expressed outrage over a Facebook post I made repudiating a tasteless joke made by someone I know. It started: “What do 500,000 battered women all have in common…???”

I assume she used the ellipses because she didn’t want your readers to know that my very next words in that sentence were: “It makes me hate him.” That’s correct: My sentence in the Facebook post Schultz references is actually of me repudiating an acquaintance’s tasteless joke.

Campaign veterans suggest that it’s politically unwise for me to hit this sleazy attack head-on. Instead, Washington experts no doubt would say I should ignore the attack and change the conversation.

I would, but I’m not a politician. This is my life, and I’ve spent many years advocating for victims of rape and domestic violence.

Just last week, I was meeting with the staff at the Mid-Minnesota Women’s Center in Brainerd, where I’ve been working with staff and survivors for 10 years. For almost that long, I have been a proud sponsor of the local Walk a Mile in Her Shoes event. For those who do not know, the annual walk is an international men’s march to end rape, sexual assault and gender violence.

In addition to sponsoring, recording public service announcements for and hosting the event, I am proud to join the other men who walk a mile in high heels in order to raise awareness. Each year our march issues a very strong statement opposing domestic violence and sexual assault that hits home with men and teenage boys in northern Minnesota.

Each night, when I tuck my 7-year-old daughter into bed, I am reminded that in 11 or so years she’ll be leaving the safety of my home and the security of my arms. When she ventures out on her own, I want to rest assured I did everything I could to ensure that she will have a safe, happy and secure life.

In this op-ed, the Washington elite would want me to include a link to my website so I could drum up support for my campaign, but I disagree. If you visit one website after reading this, please make it www.walkamileinhershoes.org and consider doing what you can to open communication about sexual violence.

Campaigns come and go, but long after I or my opponent is in office, the issue of sexual violence will still haunt women of all ages and destroy families and homes.

I’ll let my opponent’s party play political games. I’d rather use this important news space to promote a worthwhile initiative that changes lives. Please visit the Walk A Mile in Her Shoes website and consider helping.

 

Stewart Mills is a Republican candidate for Congress in Minnesota’s Eighth District.