Rural and Greater Minnesota residents are making their voices heard as candidates for Governor crisscross the state in the weeks leading up to state endorsing conventions. Over 100 people attended an event with the candidates held on Sunday at the Willmar High School organized by Our Minnesota Future.

The focus of the event was a discussion with three candidates for Governor of the values Minnesotans share. In a time where Minnesotans feel increasingly divided by political rhetoric, voters discussed values that unite Minnesotans, no matter where they live. State Representative Erin Murphy, State Auditor Rebecca Otto, and Congressman Tim Walz attended the event.

Participants at the nonpartisan event emphasized hope, unity, and a commitment to raising the profile of rural voices and Greater Minnesota communities. Shafia Abdullahi, a leader from Willmar with the faith-based group ISAIAH stated, “We are tied together by a core set of values and beliefs that drive our work. We know connecting people around shared values is critical to bringing us into a shared effort, and overcoming the things that we think, or are told, divide us. This is especially important in rural communities.”

Rural residents, including farmers, people of faith, and conservationists, asked the candidates questions to gauge their interest in identifying bold policy solutions to common challenges.

“Our values and aspirations are rooted in care for people and the land,” said Land Stewardship Project (LSP) farmer member Josh Reintz of Hutchinson. “We envision strong and vibrant rural communities, with more farmers on the land, able to make a living, grow healthy food, and care for the land and waters. We believe in diversity creating strength and resilience. This is how nature does it, and it’s true in agriculture, and it’s also true in our communities and state.”

Chas Jewett of Clean Up Our River Environment (CURE) who is an enrolled member of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe spoke to the candidates about the need for bold solutions.

“My bold solution for our next governor is to lead our state – and thereby the nation – by adopting a Water Ethic Charter for Minnesota. This would be a binding foundational document for all of Minnesota’s water laws and regulations. I also challenge you to create a Water Protector Commission where everyone has a voice; where science, economics, and politics are grounded in an ethical consideration.”

The discussion was led by ISAIAH, Land Stewardship Project (LSP), and Clean up the River Environment (CURE) as part of Our Minnesota Future.

Our Minnesota Future is an alignment of 22 organizations – faith, labor, environmental, and community groups across our state – who are shaping a new political landscape in Minnesota around the values we share and a vision for the future. In addition to LSP, CURE and ISAIH the organizations include Centro de Trabajadores Unidos en Lucha (CTUL), Communication Workers of America, Council on American-Islamic Relations, Education Minnesota, Inquilidxs Unidxs por Justicia (United Renters for Justice), Jewish Community Action, Main Street Alliance, Mesa Latina, Minnesota 350, Minnesota Nurses Association, Navigate Minnesota, OutFront Minnesota, St. Paul Federation of Teachers, Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Locals 26, SEIU Local 284, SEIU Health Care MN, SEIU State Council, Sierra Club North Star Chapter and TakeAction Minnesota.