‘Union members are worried’
From the Minneapolis Labor Review, October 26, 2018
By Steve Share, Minneapolis Labor Review editor
ANDOVER — “When I talk to union members, which happens frequently, they’re worried,” says Kathryn Eckhardt. “People want to move away from all that noisy stuff that divides us.”
Eckhardt is running with AFL-CIO and DFL Party endorsement for the House District 35B seat, which includes Andover, Coon Rapids, and Ramsey.
Eckhardt and her husband moved to Andover to raise their family, attracted by good schools for their two kids.
She’s a first-time candidate and she’s bringing a fresh approach to running for office, focusing on finding common ground to solve community problems. “People are excited about that,” she says. They want people who care about people.”
“We are so divided, as a state, as a country, even as a district,” she notes. “People are tired of politics as usual.”
Eckhardt believes “the job of the representative is to represent the whole district, not just the people who voted for them.”
The five-term Republican incumbent, Peggy Scott, has a lifetime AFL-CIO voting record of only seven percent. Although Scott won handily two years ago, Eckhardt is not deterred. “I look at those numbers but I also talk to my neighbors… There’s a real disconnect.”
Eckhardt pledges to be a representative much more accessible to constituents, “much more solutions-focused.”
“You get a room, you talk about the issues facing the district… We come together as neighbors, people whose kids go to school together.”
Eckhardt grew up in the Milwaukee area and moved to the Twin Cities to attend the University of Minnesota. She earned a B.A. in child psychology there as well as a Masters degree in Work, Community, and Family Education.
Her grandfather was a union member, she relates, and “my dad always talked about how important unions were” and about the importance of protecting collective bargaining rights.
Eckhardt worked briefly as an AFSCME member at the U of M and for 15 years has worked for the U’s Division of Epidemiology and Community Health.