Finstad, Ettinger debate ahead of First District election

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(ABC 6 News) – We are now less than four weeks away from the election and the candidates for Minnesota’s 1st Congressional District, Brad Finstad and Jeff Ettinger, faced off for a forum-style discussion in Mankato.

Republican representative Brad Finstad currently holds the seat after winning the special election back in August and is now facing Democrat Jeff Ettinger, Former CEO of Hormel on the ballot in November.

Lots of topics were discussed Thursday evening, Finstad letting everyone know that this seat belongs to the people of the district, not to him.

He represents the people of Congressional District one.

While Ettinger, if elected, is looking for more bipartisan support in Washington.

From discussing the affordable care act to immigration reform and public safety, one of the biggest disagreements was on the agriculture industry and the re-writing of the next farm bill.

Ettinger admitted that Finstad, a fourth-generation farmer, has more experience when it comes to the farming industry.

However, Ettinger, former CEO of Hormel foods said it helped him on the consumer side of farming and working with local farmers,

Finstad said Ettinger’s leadership at Hormel, actually made small farms go away. Ettinger then rejected that claim.

“I do have experience, maybe more than Brad, in the other side of the ag equation which is out to consumers. And I have worked with numerous restaurant chains, I’ve worked with grocery chains, we’ve worked to develop new products,” Ettinger said.

“During your leadership at Hormel and Jennie-O we saw the largest decrease of family farms, specifically in the turkey and hog operations under your leadership so that is the fact and that is what has happened, unfortunately,” Finstad said

“The notion that sort of Hormel has forced out smaller farms I reject,” Ettinger said.

Both candidates closed out with why southern Minnesotans should vote for them in November.

“I think we can do better. Our district is a purple district. We can be an example to the nation in terms of how to handle things on a less partisan basis but it starts with being willing to listen to others and to look at other points of view,” Ettinger said.

“I mean I try to work with anybody and everybody that wants to advance rural Minnesota that wants to make our backyard better. We can disagree on a lot of things but I’m driven to find the things that can bring us together. What are the things that we can agree on that can make a difference in our lives, make a difference in our kid’s lives,” said Finstad.

Some people from the public said this discussion wasn’t going to change their vote— but will rather solidify it.

Finstad’s assistant said the two will face off two more times before November. The next one will take place in Owatonna on Monday.