In recent days, these pages have contained letters criticizing U.S. Sen. Tina Smith for owning stock in medical-device companies and voting to repeal the tax on medical devices. To the authors of these letters, I say this: The medical-device/medical-technology industry is critically important to Minnesota's economy, so we should hope that anyone desiring to represent Minnesota in the U.S. House or Senate would own medical-device company stocks and would vote to minimize barriers that unfairly hurt these companies' ability to succeed and increase health care costs, as does the medical device tax.

These authors also should understand that Minnesota is the Silicon Valley for medical technology, and if it had a Mount Rushmore to recognize the four people most responsible for Minnesota being the epicenter of medical technology innovation, Tina Smith's spouse, Archie Smith, would be one of the four faces engraved in the mountain.

While working at Piper Jaffray during the 1990s and early 2000s, Archie and his colleagues were a national powerhouse in medical-technology investment banking. They brought hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars of investment capital raised from investors around the world to be invested in Minnesota-based medical-technology companies. We should not be surprised that the Smiths own medical-device company stocks and that they recognize the importance of keeping this important Minnesota industry vibrant and competitive with other industries.

Jerry Johnson, Eden Prairie

Swanson-Nolan combination is a winner for Minnesotans

Our best hope of preventing Minnesota from becoming more like Kansas is to support Lori Swanson for governor. She'd beat Tim Pawlenty in the general election. Tim Walz or Erin Murphy might not be able to do that.

David Roeser, Litchfield, Minn.

Editor's note: The reader's thesis would be tested if Pawlenty also won his primary contest, against Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson.

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As the former Minnesota commissioner of agriculture under Gov. Wendell R. Anderson and as chancellor of Minnesota's seven state universities during the years of Govs. Al Quie and Rudy Perpich, I have watched U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan represent Minnesota in the Sixth District from 1974 to 1980 and in the Eighth District from 2012 to 2018.

Nolan is someone who has always been a champion of the common people, the middle class, our farmers and our blue-collar workers. He is one of the most authentic and fairest political leaders I have ever worked with. Moreover, Rick has unquestioned integrity, and his values represent the best of our state's values.

Lori Swanson, as governor, and Nolan, as lieutenant governor, would make a talented and truly exceptional team of leaders and problem solvers for the people of Minnesota.

Jon Wefald, Deerwood, Minn.

Democrats, do look ahead to prospects in the general election

Several years ago, I wrote a letter published in the Star Tribune encouraging DFL voters to support their endorsed candidates in the primary election. At the time I strongly believed in the endorsement process. Today, I have reservations about that process. For this election, I'm instead urging Democrats to vote for the candidates they think have the best chance of winning in November. Moreover, the candidates who win on Tuesday must have the enthusiastic support of those they defeat. I have been impressed with the way DFL candidates have conducted their campaigns. If Democrats are united in the fall campaign, I am optimistic about the outcome.

Larry J. Peterson, Minneapolis

Editorial Board does a dubious endorsement in Fourth Ward

The Star Tribune Editorial Board's endorsement of Mitra Jalali Nelson for St. Paul's Fourth Ward Council seat over Shirley Erstad (Aug. 7) is puzzling — not necessarily wrong, but certainly questionable.

The advantages it attributes to Nelson emphasize identity factors that highlight divisions in our citizenry, such as ethnic background and renting vs. ownership. I question how a candidate who picks sides can fairly and successfully adjudicate differences of viewpoints as an officeholder. It is puzzling that the board overlooks the problem when it has so often stood for the common interest.

In contrast, Erstad has a long history of successful engagement with urban issues, the solutions to which advantaged all segments of our population. As executive director of Friends of the Parks and Trails of St. Paul and Ramsey County, a member of the Union Park District board of directors and founding member of Saint Paul STRONG, which advocates open and transparent public processes, she has represented everyone. By the way, she co-led STRONG's campaign to recruit diverse candidates for city boards and commissions.

I hope St. Paul voters get beyond checkbox-thinking when deciding on the Fourth Ward City Council representative. It requires a bit more work to look beyond identity labels to identify what a candidate has actually done. I recommend that exercise to the Star Tribune Editorial Board, as well as to the voters.

Joel Clemmer, St. Paul

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The importance of St. Paul having a City Council that works for us — the residents, the taxpayers and the voters — should be obvious even to the editorial board of a Minneapolis newspaper ("Nelson is the pick in City Council race," Aug. 7). As should the bona fides for service to the entire community of the candidates for the council of a city like ours with a "strong mayor" system of government.

Even though I do not live in the Fourth Ward, I've known Shirley Erstad for most of the 20 years I've lived in the city. Especially for her work on behalf of parks and open space, conservation and resource preservation. As a homeowner, as the executive director of Friends of the Parks and Trails of St. Paul and Ramsey County, and as a member of the Saint Paul STRONG efforts to restore transparency, accuracy and community involvement in city decisionmaking. She will represent all of us in the community.

I know Ms. Nelson for her work as a member of the staff of a Minneapolis congressman who is running for attorney general of Minnesota. She was endorsed for this seat by our strong mayor after he was elected in November but before he took office. This gives me reason to believe that should she be elected to the council, we would be left with one fewer council member willing to represent us rather than the mayor. At a time when St. Paul residents, and taxpayers especially, are more heavily dependent than ever on transparency in city government to finance adequate public services and new projects.

Dave Durenberger, St. Paul

The writer is a former U.S. senator.