Special interests have flooded Minnesota’s airwaves in an attempt to drown out the voices of democracy with dark money and buy seats across Minnesota. These ads, of course, almost always paint a misleading or incomplete picture.

As just one example, I’d like to set the record straight on a time in my life that has been twisted and manipulated into something it is not.

In 2003, I almost lost a close family member to suicide by firearm. It was only by the grace of God that I had arrived home only moments after he pulled the trigger and I was able to stabilize him and call the ambulance. During his recovery, I wondered if that was the worst thing that was ever going to happen to me.

It wasn’t.

Eleven months later, on Feb. 25, 2004, my mother was killed — murdered by gunshot in her kitchen by a family member who then took his own life.

I struggled in the wake of that. But there were key elements of my life that held me up and sustained a devastated teenager:

• I had teachers in my life who recognized that the value of public education is about making sure no student falls between the cracks.

• Because my dad had a good union job with health care, my family members and I were able to get the care we needed, when we needed it.

• The Crosby-Ironton community, like so many other communities around greater Minnesota, took care of me as one of their own.

I share this story because my struggles have made me stronger. They give me a deeper understanding of what community is about, and what’s at stake in this election.

Pete Stauber and the Washington special interests want you to believe that we should be forever defined by our lowest moments and by our struggles. Throughout the course of this campaign, I chose to address my experiences head on.

Unfortunately, my opponent cannot say that he took the same open and transparent path. Pete has gone the route of deception.

Stauber touts his support for mining, yet he is backed by anti-labor Washington politicians who seek to break up collective bargaining and worker protections on the Iron Range.

Stauber has dodged questions on the Republican health care bill and claimed his support for pre-existing conditions, when in fact his party has repeatedly sought to repeal, weaken and disparage the Affordable Care Act and its strong protections for people with pre-existing conditions. In the last week alone, the White House has sought to use federal rule-making to allow junk insurance plans onto the market that would make health care with a pre-existing condition unaffordable or impossible.

According to health care experts, there are at least 270,000 people in our district living with a pre-existing medical condition — a majority of the nonelderly population.

Stauber also supports a plan that has led to an age tax — higher health care premiums for older Americans, all while Pete accepts money from the very insurance interests that deny coverage and benefit from profit-driven health care.

Meanwhile, I have clearly stated my views on health care: It is a human right, and no senior or veteran would be kicked off of their plan when the day comes that we finally achieve universal coverage in this country.

Just last Friday in our debate, Stauber refused to acknowledge the Republican plan to cut Social Security and Medicare. This may be one of the biggest issues that the next Congress faces, as politicians scramble to pay for the huge deficit brought on by their corporate tax cuts. Pete has given no indication that he will stand up for country over party, and his only contribution to pay for the gaping deficit, other than with the cuts to Social Security and Medicare, was the suggestion that cuts to the federal SNAP program (food stamps) could fill the deficit hole caused by tax cuts for the rich.

I’ve run on a record of my accomplishments, such as historic investments in education and bringing the cost of health care down. As a member of Congress, I will be transparent with Minnesotans, working to clean up our politics so that out-of-state donors and special interests can’t flood the airwaves to mislead voters.

We need to make government for the people again, and to do so, I respectfully ask for your vote on Nov. 6.

Joe Radinovich is the Democratic candidate for the U.S. House in Minnesota’s Eighth Congressional District.