Kendall Qualls has an impressive life story and some of what he writes resonates ("Why I'm running for governor," Opinion Exchange, Jan. 14). I agree that we need leaders to focus on commonsense policies. We need to fully fund the police and make sure that they have the support and resources to make our communities safe and build trust.

But unfortunately, most of what Qualls offers are sound bites and distortions instead of real solutions that will help Minnesota move forward.

For over 20 years I have worked with students and families as a high school social studies teacher. I challenge Qualls to identify one E-12 school in the state that actually teaches critical race theory. It simply is not taught — and the theory is not what most Republicans claim it to be.

Stating that our country is less racist now than in the past (as Qualls does) is not an answer. The disparities in our communities between white residents and people of color are immense, but not intractable. Housing, education, employment, health care — these are all areas where we need to do better.

The claim should not be simply that our taxes are too high. Instead, the question should be asked: "How are tax revenues being used to improve our communities and invest in the future?"

We need a leader and governor who can move beyond sound bites and divisive rhetoric. Qualls, clearly, is not the right person for the job.

Dan Goodrich, Excelsior

The writer is a state DFL Senate candidate for SD33.

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As a Minnesota resident with no party affiliations, I was interested in reading about Qualls' views as a potential gubernatorial candidate. Disappointingly, there was little substance in his statement outside of vague and tired resolutions so often repeated by the Republican establishment. For example, when minimizing the issue of systemic racism on the basis that he was Black and that "this period was the least racist in the country's history," was he comparing it to the time of slavery? I almost stopped reading right then and there. And then there were the issues of "school choice" and "restor[ing] the safety of our neighborhoods" which left me clueless as to what exactly that meant. Mr. Qualls, if you expect to have a fighting chance with independent voters, you will need to do much better than that and be far more explicit with your views and objectives.

Walid Maalouli, Eagan

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I was perplexed by the piece by Republican gubernatorial candidate Kendall Qualls. First, I noticed he tried to paint Gov. Tim Walz as an extremist by tying him to leftist Rep. Ilhan Omar instead of moderate Rep. Dean Phillips, who Qualls ran against two years ago and lost. It should be noted Walz did little of Omar's grandstanding and political stunts when he was in Congress and worked as a moderate and consensus builder. Walz also was against the "replace the police" amendment in Minneapolis that Omar supported — though Qualls made it sound like Walz supported it too. In fact, then-President Donald Trump publicly stated that he did not blame Walz for the riots in Minneapolis. It should also be mentioned that Walz was not endorsed by leftist groups like "Our Revolution" in his 2018 election bid as well.

Second, Qualls decries extremism in the Democratic Party but not in the Republican Party. He did not mention anything about Trump's false election statements, the violence at the U.S. Capitol or the anti-vax movement.

Finally, Qualls also did not mention what happens when a state keeps cutting and cutting taxes instead of using a mix of taxes and cuts to balance the budgets. There had been states recently that had deficits upon deficits or surpluses that were too small to fund anything as they kept cutting budgets near to the extreme of putting public safety at risk. These included Wisconsin under Gov. Scott Walker, Kansas under Gov. Sam Brownback, Alaska under Gov. Mike Dunleavy, and more recently Wyoming under Gov. Mark Gordon. By contrast, Walz decided to build on the foundation left by previous Gov. Mark Dayton, and the state has surpluses to help deal with the crises that plague Minnesota. This is far different from the time of Dayton's predecessor, Republican Tim Pawlenty, when the state had deficits almost year in and year out thanks in part to his extremist "no new tax" pledge.

Let's face it. Qualls' accusations fall flat, as Walz does deserve another four-year term. Minnesota desperately needs a uniter like Walz instead of a divider and extremist like Qualls.

William Cory Labovitch, South St. Paul

CITY GOVERNMENT

An additional reform

Minneapolis voters passed a city charter amendment that created a new branch of city government, the independent city auditor's office (Minneapolis City Charter Article IV, §4.2(g)). The independent auditor's office is tasked with "monitoring and assuring compliance with [the city's] charter, ordinances and other applicable law," and "minimizing financial, operational, reputational, strategic and other risks." Importantly, the independent auditor has "prompt and unrestricted access, without charge, to all records, property, and operations, unless an applicable law or court order explicitly prohibits or limits such access." The independent auditor has jurisdiction over all city departments, boards and commissions.

This new charter provision requires the audit committee of the City Council to "adopt an audit charter defining the office's purpose, mission, authority and independence."

In order to establish independent, effective and genuine police oversight, the City Council should move police oversight to the independent city auditor's office, and the audit committee should include police oversight in the new audit charter. In this way the council, acting under the authority of the newly passed charter amendment, can set up a police oversight system with the two essential elements of oversight: independence and access to nonpublic data. This will enable the city to engage in meaningful oversight work, outside the political fray.

Abigail Cerra and Jordan Sparks, Minneapolis

The writers are chair and vice chair of the Minneapolis Police Conduct Oversight Commission.

CITIZENRY

I used to know nuance

I used to know: political progressives who hunted and fished; political conservatives who cared deeply about the environment; liberals who chafed at excess political correctness; fiscal conservatives who wanted affordable health care and a strong public education; deeply religious people who championed separation of church and state; peaceful people who believed in a sound military and knew that all cops were not their enemy; proud proponents of individual freedom who thought cooperation has its value; extended families who could have discussions that did not end in shouting matches; and people of all political persuasions who thought truth, justice and liberty were American ideals.

Is this population a dwindling minority now, an odd curiosity, a relic of the past?

It seems there used to be lots of them at one time. They were called citizens.

Ron Bergantine, White Bear Lake

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