Equity and inclusion are at the core of Rep. Tim Walz’ campaign for governor and he’s not afraid to tell it to any audience listening.

With a little more than a week to go before final ballots are cast in the Nov. 6 general election, Walz is spreading his message of inclusion in places near and far throughout the state. On his way to International Falls, Walz sat for a phone interview with Insight News to talk about his plans for inclusion if elected governor. The DFL candidate said it was his desire for inclusion that guided his pick for a running mate.

“Minnesota’s future – both economically and morally – is going to depend on us getting this equity piece right,” said Walz. “It (being inclusive) played a role in picking (Rep.) Peggy Flanagan, an Indigenous woman as my running mate. I recognize that as a white male I come to the table with certain perspectives and experiences and we need others to be at the table with their perspectives and experiences. For instance, we do a wonderful job in this state of educating our children if they are white, but not so much for those who are Black, Brown or Indigenous. So we’ve got to focus on hiring teachers of color. Seventy percent of our future workforce is going to come from communities of color, and our future is going to rely on the fact that we educate every child.”

Walz said the state’s future is interconnected regardless of geography.

“As goes North Minneapolis, so goes International Falls,” said Walz.

In 2016, with nearly 3 million ballots cast in the general election in Minnesota, Hillary Clinton narrowly carried the state in her presidential bid against Donald Trump, winning by a less than 44,000 vote margin. Those results seemed to indicate a shift in the ideology of voters in the state, but Walz said Trump voters were sold a bill of goods and those votes will not likely transfer over to his opponent, Jeff Johnson, who has closely associated himself with the president.

“Many people (who voted for Trump) have the right to be upset because wages are stagnant, and they are not getting ahead. They are upset; and they should be upset at people like Donald Trump,” said Walz. “We’ve had two years to see that what Trump pushed was empty rhetoric and wealthy tax cuts did not help the middle class.”

Being in the home stretch of the election, Walz said he is focusing on issues while his opponent peddles in fearmongering, pointing out a billboard ad in rotation off of Interstate-394 and Highway 169. The ad, which Johnson has also posted to his Twitter account, reads, “BEWARE: DFL Sanctuary City up ahead! Say no to a DFL Sanctuary State!” The sanctuary city reference is to Minneapolis and Mayor Jacob Frey’s open opposition to Latinx people being asked by law enforcement to share their immigration statuses.

“Their (the Johnson campaign) closing with a message of fear and divisiveness,” said the DFL candidate for governor. “In the midst of bombs being sent to people and people being shot in a place of worship, yet we’re supposed to be afraid of women and children coming to our (U.S.) border, fleeing war and oppression.”

Walz also offered a message for anyone eligible, but planning not to vote.

“You’ll hear people say, ‘I’m tired of it all and I’m not into politics,’ well you better get into politics because politics is into you, so we need you to be a part of the conversation,” said Walz.

Early voting is taking place throughout the state. Election Day is Nov. 6.

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