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Candidate's View: Minnesotans need someone to fight for them

I'm a born-and-raised Minnesotan; a mom to four great kids; a grandma to two precious grandsons; a wife to Phil, a small-business owner; and a state senator.

I love this state, and that's why I'm running for the United States Senate. Minnesotans deserve a leader who has a proven track record of working across the aisle and getting things done. That's what I've done in the Minnesota Senate — and that's what I'll continue to do as Minnesota's new voice in the U.S. Senate.

The daughter of two public-school teachers, I graduated from South St. Paul High School in 1982 and married my high school sweetheart, Phil Housley, in 1985. After graduating with a bachelor of arts in communications from the State University of New York at Buffalo, I began my career as a television news producer before eventually hosting my own radio show, authoring an investment book for women, and starting a successful real estate business in the Stillwater, Minn., area.

For 20 years, Phil's NHL Hall-of-Fame hockey career took us all over the United States and Canada. But Minnesota always remained our "forever home." It was during this time we experienced the diversity in schools, communities, and health care systems that gives me a unique perspective on many of the challenges that face our nation. In 2012, I was elected to serve the St. Croix River Valley in the Minnesota Senate.

Since my mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer's eight years ago, I've experienced firsthand the many challenges that come with caring for our elderly. As my family and I wrestled with the tough decisions that came along with caring for my mom, I realized not everyone has somebody to fight for them. That's why I led the effort to create the first-ever Minnesota Senate committee dedicated solely to tackling the many policy challenges in the area of aging and long-term care. I'm proud to serve as the committee's chairwoman, and I'm proud of the work we've been able to accomplish together.

For too long, making sure our state is a safe, welcoming place in which people can grow old has fallen victim to partisan, divisive politics and extreme agendas. As baby boomers grow older, Minnesota's aging population is rapidly growing. It has never been more important for them to have an advocate. Growing old is one of life's few guarantees — and I've made it my mission to fight for Minnesota seniors.

I led the way in exposing the horrifying tales of abuse and neglect in some of Minnesota's senior living facilities. I demanded transparency into the state agency responsible for investigating complaints of elder abuse after thousands of complaints were thrown in the trash. I led the fight in exposing a culture of negligence and retaliation within that same state agency — and I didn't back down, even when top state officials resigned and promised action. I got the legislative auditor to conduct a full investigation into the administration's failure.

I traveled across Minnesota, holding dozens of hearings, meeting with victims, families, care providers, facility administrators, and advocates to make sure all voices were at the table. These are our moms and dads, our brothers and sisters, our neighbors and friends. This is too important to leave them behind.

Serving the people of Minnesota — all people in Minnesota — isn't about party politics or self-serving interests. It's about working together with the shared goal of making Minnesota a better place — and leaving the state better than when we found it.

I will bring that same passion, tenacity, and willingness to listen to the United States Senate.

Karin Housley of Lakeland, Minn., is the Republican candidate to represent Minnesota in the U.S. Senate. She's running for the seat vacated by Democrat Sen. Al Franken when he resigned. She wrote this at the request of the News Tribune Opinion page. Election Day is Nov. 6.

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