We’re pretty lucky here in Minnesota’s Third Congressional District. The median household income here is over $81,000 per year, while the average annual household income is $111,845.
But the Third District isn’t free of poverty and hardship. Many households in the district fell below or barely above the poverty threshold of $24,257 per year for a family of four.
In Coon Rapids, for instance, almost 6 percent of the population — some 1,376 households — earn less than $15,000 per year. Another 6.54 percent of households earn between $15,000 and $24,999.
Many towns are sharply divided along socioeconomic lines. In Bloomington, the average household income is between $75,000 and $100,000 per year. But in some neighborhoods, the poverty rate is nearly 20 percent.
In Edina, 4.6 percent of the population lives in poverty. That’s about 2,362 people. And almost two percent of Edinans are living on incomes more than 50 percent below the national poverty rate as defined in 2015.
The most recent data show that overall, 3.5 percent of households in the Third Congressional District are below the poverty level. That figure rises to 7.8 percent when considering only families with children younger than five years old.
These people are our fellow citizens, neighbors, and coworkers. Yet according to an analysis by Politics That Work, a political data site, Rep. Erik Paulsen has never voted in favor of a single measure that would ease the burden on these impoverished Minnesotans.
In fact, Paulsen has consistently voted against improving conditions for our most vulnerable citizens. PTW writes that in 2015, for instance, Paulsen voted in favor of a budget that would have “greatly reduced or eliminated a wide variety of poverty amelioration programs.”
Later in the year, Paulsen voted against an amendment to the Student Success Act intended to reduce the high-school dropout rate. In a press release, the office of Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-Fla.), who sponsored the amendment, noted that “The failure to graduate adversely impacts future earning potential and deprives the nation of $300 million in worker income each year.”
Paulsen voted against another amendment to the same bill that would have ensured that teachers and educational services in high-poverty schools were on par with those of average schools. That amendment and the Wilson amendment ultimately failed.
Edina and the rest of the Third Congressional District need a Representative who will be responsive and attentive to our poorest citizens. Dismissing them as lost causes — or worse, throwing up additional roadblocks to their financial success and stability — is unacceptable. We need someone who will offer mercy, empathy, and understanding — the values that make our community stronger. Erik Paulsen is clearly not that person.
Featured image via YouTube.