I sometimes say I got into politics by accident. After graduating from college, I stayed home to raise my children and volunteered as an advocate for victims of domestic violence.
One day in the 1990s my dad had to appear before the local City Council, and he asked me to go with him. I was the first in my family to get a four-year college degree, so he said, “if they ask me a hard question you might be able to help me answer it.”
That meeting changed our lives. While my dad was speaking, one of the councilmembers interrupted and said, “How can you even do this when you can’t read?” I had no idea that my father couldn’t read. It was a secret he kept private his whole life. He was humiliated. It made the local paper and the local cable station. So, I wrote a letter to the editor saying we can disagree about the issues, but it’s about treating each other with respect. Neighbors began calling me and asking me to run for office. So, I did and I won.
Since then I have worked to ensure all Minnesotans have access and a voice in government. As a state representative, I voted against the law allowing corporations and lobbyists to spend unlimited amounts of money wining and dining politicians and their staff — as long as they invited all politicians. This was wrong because legal aid groups, neighborhood justice coalitions, and Head Start families do not have this same access to lawmakers. As attorney general, I will ensure everyone in the state has equal access to their government. We must stop the influence of money in our politics and overturn Citizens United.
For 18 years I have served in the Minnesota House focusing on public safety and consumer protection. I put myself through law school while I served, worked as a prosecutor for the Anoka County Attorney’s Office, prosecuting cases of financial exploitation of vulnerable adults, domestic abuse, and people who sell illegal firearms.
As attorney general I will take on those who violate the law. Whether that is corporations, insurance companies, nonprofits, or the U.S. president. I will work to ensure all Minnesotans have access to health care and medications. We cannot allow large entities, whether they are corporations or nonprofits, to eliminate access for Minnesotans to get the medications they need. There are currently 20 active lawsuits against these pharmaceutical companies for price gouging, and I will continue to hold them accountable.
Pharmaceutical companies lied to doctors and others when they claimed opioids were not addictive; now Minnesotans are dying. I have taken on pharmaceutical companies in the Legislature, and I will do the same as your attorney general.
As a state legislator I fought for fair wages and worker protections. I led efforts to protect victims of domestic violence and sexual assault, and to keep our seniors and veterans safe from exploitation. As attorney general I will continue to fight for these values.
The attorney general’s job has changed. Attorneys general from across the country are joining together to sue the president and U.S. secretary of education over the travel ban, protecting DACA recipients, protecting students from government changes to student loans and holding accountable private colleges that commit fraud. As your attorney general, I will continue these fights to ensure all Minnesotans are protected under the law.
We live in a time where accountability has vanished. It is missing from corporations that put profits over people. As attorney general, I will stand up against special interests and hold them accountable.
As your attorney general, I will never back away from a hard fight when it comes to protecting all Minnesotans. No one is too big to be above the law, and no one is too small to be below its protection.
I have earned the endorsement of the Minnesota Professional Firefighters, Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association, Women Winning, Teamsters, Minnesota Association of Professional Employees, Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way, and International Union of Operating Engineers. I have earned their trust and support, and I ask for your vote in the DFL primary on Aug. 14.
Debra Hilstrom, a Democrat from Brooklyn Center, is a candidate for Minnesota attorney general. She has served in the Minnesota House of Representatives since 2001.