By TOM LAVENTURE
AAP staff writer
ST. PAUL, Minn. – Rena Moran is running as the Democrat (DFL) candidate for Minnesota State Representative 65A – aiming to replace the seat left vacant by DFL Rep. Cy Thao who decided not to run again. Moran is fortunate to be running in a minority majority and heavily DFL district, however, she said nothing is take for granted and that she has come closer to the community through endless appearances and a door knocking campaign.
With a BA in Early Childhood Education, Moran has 15 years experience working with children mostly in the nonprofit sector in the areas of child abuse prevention and social services. She is currently the Parent Leader Coordinator with Prevent Child Abuse Minnesota.
Moran and her husband John are homeowners and the parents of seven children and one grandchild. She is on the Board of Directors of the Summit/U Planning Council, Model Cities, and the Minnesota Women’s Political Caucus. She also organizes with the Aurora St. Anthony Neighborhood Development Corporation.
Running for a seat vacated by a Hmong candidate, Moran said her door knocking includes people of all backgrounds in the district and that her discussion produce consistent concerns on the issues. The concerns are about health care, finding livable wage jobs and ensuring the educational system remains capable of producing high school graduates that are prepared for postsecondary school and also prepared in life.
“These are the issues that are really effecting all families regardless, but there are some specific concerns around the Hmong veterans and recognizing them for their sacrifices and being supportive of that because anyone who fought in a war for the United States of America where people lost their lives should be recognized as a U.S. veterans,” said Moran, adding that she would support the push at the state and federal level.
It’s not that difficult to understand the Hmong veteran issues, said Moran. This is a shared value with African Americans that have fought in every American war, yet historically they have not been recognized even when told they would be. They have had to fight to have their history included in the American story.
With both State Sen. Mee Moua and Rep. Cy Thao deciding not to run, their successors will inherit the ongoing issues of the local Hmong community and their efforts to hold Thailand accountable for the Hmong grave desecration and the government of Laos in the fair treatment of Hmong within its borders.
Moran said that when it comes to issues of family she can identify with these causes.
“When we have issues that effect families and children that whole dynamic makes it important,” she said. “I have spoken with members of the Hmong communities who will keep me informed on these issues along with partnership with TakeAction Minnesota Hmong Action Team. I depend on them to help guide me through this process.”
Disparities it among the most used words in community issues as it links many of the factors that impact low income and minority families.
The issue of universal health care if a key component of Moran’s campaign. Both the State Council on Asian Pacific Minnesotans and the Minnesota Asian/American Health Coalition have stated publicly this universal health care is the only solution that effectively eliminates disparities by keeping people from falling through the cracks.
“I truly believe in universal health care,” Moran said. “I think that a single payer system is where we need to be. There are so many families in our state that have for one have lost jobs. Good health insurance can be covered by employment but right now families are losing jobs so we need a health care that is affordable and accessible,
“I don’t think any child should be without health care. Families are making decisions about whether they should self-medicate themselves or whether to go to the doctor or buy groceries or pay a bill. Those are decision we should not be making.
Moran said that when people are not served then the system is not working. She said there were concerns with Medicaid when it was new and that it has since served people in many ways. She plans to supports the health care work in place by Sen. John Marty (DFL-54) as a leader on single payer direction.
“I think we lack oversight and sometimes we have wasteful spending but I think the core and the key to this is that we need a system that is serving all families and not just those that can’t afford it.”
The immigrant issues effecting families are a concern Moran said she works on first hand at Prevent Child Abuse Minnesota in partnership with the Department of Health and Human Services. She said a key concern is that communities of color are not being treated equally within the system – mainly because of the tendency to design one-size-fits-all programs for everyone.
“What works for one does not necessarily work for everyone,” she said. “What you need and what they are working toward is including diverse voices to be part of planning, implementation, evaluation and programs services and systems.”
Moran said that she believes light rail transit and the transformation of the University Avenue Central Corridor will ultimately be a benefit to businesses and residents alike. However, she said the immediate concerns are to help control the property tax increases through grants and postponements.
She would also work to ensure that the impact on businesses during construction and after with the loss of parking will not prevent people from coming to these stores and restaurants. Some are leaving in anticipation of losing their businesses while others are betting on the positive impact in the long run. She said it will take the city, county and state to help businesses sustain growth during the initial hardships.
“It’s going to be very nice but the key is that is must work for residents right here,” she said. “We have businesses that are deciding to move because one they are losing parking with the construction down the center of University Avenue.”
Moran said she looks forward to being a minority voice in the legislature but more as a voice for everyone in the district. She said her own life experience speaks to the voices of different groups and that she would bring all voices to the table to discuss shared concerns and help come to a common solution for the district and statewide.
“I have built some really great relationships in this community from organizing and I have had the pleasure and the joy of bringing diverse communities together around common issues and concerns and I will continue to do that,” she said. “It is my hope that people will recognize that I am going to be as supportive as I can.”
Moran said there is much at state in this election with families losing jobs and homes. She said the urgency to address disparities is now and that she has seen this first hand as a community organizer hearing the real life concerns of neighbors.
“I’ve taken the leap and decided to step out in many different ways since coming here to Minnesota,” she said. “It’s the challenges ahead that encourages me and pushes me.”
Diane Tran, Policy Organizer and Project Manager at Wellston Action Center, is also a member of Moran’s campaign team. www.vote4rena.org