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As Tina Smith steps into the U.S. Senate, we must not forget to recognize the importance of Minnesota’s two Senate seats both being filled by women. We’re joining the ranks of only California, New Hampshire and Washington. This is a significant moment in our state’s “her”story.

Even though Smith was not elected by Minnesotans, hopefully her appointment will be a catalyst to our state to become a leader in advocating for gender equality, especially when it comes to politics.

Thus far, Minnesota does not have the best record in political gender equality. For instance, it has never had a female governor; only two women have been the mayor of Minneapolis and none has been the mayor of St. Paul; and just one of eight of our U.S. representatives is a woman. Furthermore, Amy Klobuchar was our first elected female senator, taking office in 2007 — but, now, she serves with another woman by her side.

Let’s not take this moment for granted, Minnesota. Hopefully, in the near future, we will vote to put more women in positions of power.

Allison Agre, Corcoran

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The Jan. 3 editorial was misguided in opining that Gov. Mark Dayton should have accepted the Republican plan on succession for the lieutenant governorship that Smith vacated. Smith’s constitutional successor, state Senate President Michelle Fischbach, has a conflict of interest in acting both in a legislative and an executive capacity, as she intends, and should recognize her responsibility to resign her Senate seat. Having a Republican lieutenant governor should encourage bipartisanship, which is sorely needed. Before expecting political comity, Republicans as a party need to rectify their historic misuse of U.S. Senate power over Supreme Court nominations — to the continuing grievous harm to our democracy.

Jon Steinberg, Minneapolis

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If Fischbach says it is OK to be both lieutenant governor and president of the state Senate, then I propose a better idea: Smith can be both our U.S. senator and lieutenant governor.

John Kobs, Columbia Heights

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Although some might scoff at Republican Michele Bachmann’s possible U.S. Senate bid in 2018 — as it would feel to some like Roy Moore’s candidacy for the Senate in Alabama — I would not (“Senate opening: ‘Should it be me?’ ” Jan. 3). After all, I remember when some people did not believe someone like Donald Trump could be elected president. In addition, the controversial Bachmann did win four elections to the U.S. House, even though some she barely won and a couple of the elections happened with third-party candidates getting more than 5 percent of the vote. Particular notice should be on 2008, when she won with less than 50 percent of the vote in the race. Therefore, I would encourage all to take a Bachmann election bid very seriously.

William Cory Labovitch, South St. Paul

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On Tuesday evening, President Donald Trump tweeted: “North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un just stated that the ‘Nuclear Button is on his desk at all times.’ Will someone from his depleted and food starved regime please inform him that I too have a Nuclear Button, but it is a much bigger & more powerful one than his, and my Button works!”

This is terrifying from many angles. The leader of the free world is having a shouting match on the internet over the size of his nuclear button.

It is overdue that Congress acts to check this imbalance and misuse of power. Our founding fathers anticipated a person unfit for office; they just didn’t expect to have a Congress with no conviction.

What will U.S. Rep. Erik Paulsen do?

Anita Smithson, Bloomington


There’s more affordable-housing talk than actual construction

All of the urban planners and City Council members seem to think that more density in the Uptown area will lead to more affordable housing (Readers Write, Jan. 3). My question as an Uptown resident is: When and how?

All of the new apartments that are being built in the name of “density” are very expensive luxury buildings because the developers can’t make money on “affordable” housing. They keep building more and more apartments and none of them is “affordable” to lower-income residents.

When will we see the affordable housing that you keep promising us that more density will bring?

Tim Foreman, Minneapolis


Pure-free-market advocacy persists despite where it leads

What the writer of the Jan. 1 letter “State mandate is a very bad, and very much not conservative, idea” doesn’t address is just who is going to pay for health care. Unless a person is denied treatment, if they have no insurance and can’t pay out of pocket, there is no “personal responsibility” involved in the equation. If the writer were to have a heart attack or a stroke and suddenly need emergency care, he would be provided with that care regardless of whether he had insurance or could pay. Nobody wants health insurance when they are healthy unless they realize that they are not in a financial position to take that risk. When public hospitals assume that risk, individuals should not be allowed the “freedom” to decide what they want or need.

Adele Evidon, Minneapolis

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Taking the Jan. 1 writer’s argument to its logical conclusion, the state should drop the requirement that car drivers carry insurance. Although this law is frequently violated, those caught are punished, and the number of uninsureds would certainly skyrocket without it. Hopefully, the letter writer carries enough uninsured motorist coverage to care for himself and/or loved ones should they be injured.

And what of the effect on medical care? Before providing aid to victims of accidents or heart attacks or any other true emergency, should first responders and medical providers verify insurance coverage? That certainly would be the obvious result of the letter writer’s purely economic-free-market reasoning. Regardless of whether he carried medical insurance for himself and his family, I wonder how he would feel if a loved one suffered or died as their insurance status was verified.

Dr. John Dryer, Maple Grove


Ask your father

Regarding the Jan. 2 Variety article on polyamory: I think folks are confusing diversity with debauchery. Having multiple intimate partners seems to me to corrode commitment and true fidelity, and might breed confusion rather than security. When I discussed this with my 30-something son, he suggested that I needed to be more open-minded. That is until I asked him if he thought this taking on several paramours would fly with his dad (my spouse of 45 years). He thought not.

Barb Schweiger, Mendota Heights