‘To improve state, we need to listen’
From the Minneapolis Labor Review, October 26, 2018
By Steve Share, Minneapolis Labor Review editor
SPRING LAKE PARK — “Good ideas don’t come from one party,” says Erin Koegel. “If we want to improve our state, we need to actually listen and talk to each other and hold leadership accountable.”
Koegel is running with AFL-CIO and DFL Party endorsement for re-election to the House District 37A seat, which includes Blaine, Coon Rapids and Spring Lake Park.
Over the past two legislative sessions, Koegel earned a 95 percent AFL-CIO voting record on working family issues.
She’s very frustrated, however, with the Republican House majority’s extreme partisanship. “They did everything they could to block any legislation coming from people across the aisle,” she relates.
The only way she could get a hearing for an open meeting bill she wrote, she says, was to get a Republican colleague to officially be the author instead of her.
The bill passed. “That was a small step in the right direction,” she says.
With the 2018 election for the Minnesota House, she says, “we have a real opportunity to change the way the legislature can function. That’s what we need to focus on.”
Koegel grew up in Osseo and graduated from Osseo Senior High. At the University of Minnesota Duluth, she earned both her undergraduate degree and a Masters of Advocacy and Political Leadership.
Koegel’s parents grew up in Silver Bay, where both of her grandfathers were members of the United Steelworkers. Her parents were married at the union hall, she relates.
“There’s a big co-relation between the strength of the middle class and the strength of our unions,” says Koegel, a former AFSCME member. “I want to make sure more people can join unions and that we’re not doing anything to diminish the right to organize.”
Koegel’s support for unions and for expanding access to the Minnesota Care health plan have made her a target for record-high outside spending to defeat her.
“We have a high labor density in my area,” Koegel notes. “It’s scary to think somebody who would support ‘Right-to-Work’ could be elected from the area.”