See more of the story

Opinion editor's note: Star Tribune Opinion publishes a mix of national and local commentaries online and in print each day. To contribute, click here.


Even before last week's primary was on the books, we knew November's election would give voters contrasting visions about what Minnesota's future will look like. It's no exaggeration to say that the people we elect to represent us in the Legislature will be faced with more decisions that have implications for our daily lives than any we've seen in many years.

The good news is that Minnesotans have clear choices: between the freedom to live our lives as we choose or having the government intruding in our private health care decisions. Between lower prices for struggling families or a wider gap between people who have and those who have not. Between nation-leading schools that prepare our kids for success in work and life or more kids slipping through the cracks in overcrowded classrooms and aging facilities.

Let's face it, the past few years have been hard on all of us. Rising crime, higher costs for everything from groceries to gas, a devastating drought, and a general sense of unease about the future are testing Minnesotans daily. Parents are juggling child care and work. Businesses are struggling to hire enough workers while dealing with supply-chain backlogs. A lingering pandemic has left too many seniors still feeling isolated, and assaults on reproductive freedom are threatening the lives of our sisters and daughters.

But while the challenges facing us are big and complex, the solutions are straightforward. DFL candidates in every corner of the state are laying out a road map for a state that works better, not just for some of us, but for everyone who chooses to call Minnesota home.

A DFL Senate majority will tackle rising costs with responsible tax cuts that put money back in your pocket. We will enshrine reproductive freedom so no one has to worry about the government intruding in private conversations between a woman and her doctor. We'll provide more funding for police to prevent and respond to crime and pass common-sense gun safety measures that the majority of responsible gun owners and Minnesotans support.

We'll protect and strengthen Minnesota's quality of life with excellent public schools, high quality health and senior care, and reliable roads and bridges that safely move people and goods.

None of these ideas are new: DFLers in the Minnesota Senate introduced solutions to all of these issues during the legislative session that ended in May. Sadly, the Republican-led Senate flatly rejected them. Worse, Republicans walked away from historic tax cuts that would have put more money in the pocket of families, seniors and small businesses. Not only did they break their word, they've shown that they are unwilling and unfit to lead, favoring gridlock over compromise by embracing a radical agenda that's out of step with Minnesota families.

I'm not alone in my alarm when I ponder the GOP-vision for Minnesota. A future where more women suffer injury or death when they are denied access to legal and safe reproductive health care. Where the gap between the middle class and the wealthy continues to grow. Where disregard for public health measures leave us more vulnerable to illness and death when the next pandemic emerges, and where classrooms are overcrowded and teachers are censored.

That's not the Minnesota we know and love, and it's not the kind of leadership we deserve. It's why DFL candidates in communities across the state are working to protect our values and our way of life. The remarkable individuals running as proud DFLers for the state Senate — first responders, doctors and nurses, teachers, mayors, City Council members and local officials — are already leaders in their communities, and they have a record of getting things done.

As a mother, a small-business owner, and the daughter of a police officer who walked the beat early in his career, I feel an urgency about this election like never before. When I return to private life in January, I want to know without reservation that the people representing me share my hopes and optimism about what's possible and can hit the ground running to make it happen.

That's why, if anyone is looking for me between now and Nov. 8, they'll find me knocking doors, making calls and talking about the choice we'll be making on Election Day, working harder on this election than any in my lifetime to convince voters that sending a DFL majority to the state Senate is the best — in fact, the only choice — for Minnesota.

Melisa López Franzen, DFL-Edina, is the minority leader in the Minnesota Senate. She will retire from the Senate in January due to redistricting.