Opinion editor’s note: The Star Tribune Editorial Board operates separately from the newsroom, and no news editors or reporters were involved in the endorsement process.

In her 20 years in Congress, Rep. Betty McCollum been a hardworking, relatively low-profile legislator representing Minnesota’s overwhelmingly Democratic Fourth Congressional District.

Since 2002, during election cycles when the Star Tribune Editorial Board has endorsed in the Fourth District, McCollum has earned our endorsement while seldom facing serious competition. That’s the case again this year.

Early in her long tenure, McCollum quietly mastered a range of complex issues ranging from free trade to foreign policy, and she’s a strong voice on immigration and school funding.

McCollum serves as chair of the Appropriations Subcommittee on the Environment, Interior and Related Agencies, where she leads work on the annual $36.8 billion Interior-Environment funding bill.

The measure includes funding to protect and preserve public lands and natural resources and to ensure clean drinking water and air quality. It also increases spending for services and education in Indian Country and for the Mississippi River and the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCA).

McCollum told the Editorial Board that she sought her well-earned and influential position as a congressional “appropriator, not authorizer” to have more impact on a broad range of federal spending. She is poised to step into an even more powerful position as chair of the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee should Democrats retain the House majority.

McCollum, 66, supports expansion of the Affordable Care Act with a robust public option. She’s also an advocate for comprehensive immigration reform, including the Dream Act, and has been working on the legislative response to the pandemic.

The Editorial Board has admired McCollum’s tireless work on behalf of transparency in the regulatory process on the Chilean-owned Twin Metals mining project — and her advocacy for protecting the adjacent BWCA.

Serving the area that includes St. Paul, all of Ramsey County and much of Washington County, McCollum is endorsed by more than 20 organizations, including the Minnesota DFL, numerous unions and the DFL environmental and veteran’s caucuses.

Challenging McCollum is Gene Rechtzigel, who won the Republican primary and describes himself as a self-employed farmer, property manager and self-taught legal expert. Rechtzigel, 67, did not respond to interview requests. Brief statements on issues gleaned from his website are available in the Star Tribune voter’s guide.

Also on the ballot is Susan Sindt, a former science teacher, of the Grassroots-Legalize Cannabis Party of Minnesota.