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Cory Hepola reveals MN gubernatorial campaign 'pillars' in hometown stop

Minnesota gubernatorial candidate Cory Hepola laid out his three major campaign 'pillars' in a speech to the Perham Noon Rotary on Thursday, March 24. He also addressed how his campaign plans to inspire voters by focusing on commonalities instead of differences.

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Minnesota gubernatorial candidate Cory Hepola speaks to Rotarians during a meeting of the Perham Noon Rotary at Lakes Cafe in Perham on March 24, 2022. Hepola is a Perham native and the event was his first hometown campaign stop since launching his 2022 gubernatorial bid.
Michael Achterling / Detroit Lakes Tribune
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In one of his first campaign stops, Minnesota gubernatorial candidate Cory Hepola revealed his three main campaign 'pillars' during a meeting of the Perham Noon Rotary on Thursday, March 24.

Hepola launched his 2022 Minnesota gubernatorial bid on March 2 and, shortly after, received an endorsement from the Forward Party, a political party started by former 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang. According to the party's website, their goal is bring Americans together through "practical, common-sense" solutions instead of dividing them.

"I am running for governor of Minnesota because we deserve better," said Hepola during his speech. "We are allowing the 10% of extreme voices hijack the conversation and to push this conversation into bad places and into inactivity ... and I just couldn't sit by anymore, I couldn't wait anymore, as this was continuing to happen, this lack of progress."

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Minnesota gubernatorial candidate Cory Hepola speaks to Rotarians during a meeting of the Perham Noon Rotary at Lakes Cafe in Perham on March 24, 2022. Hepola is a Perham native and the event was his first hometown campaign stop since launching his 2022 gubernatorial bid.
Michael Achterling / Detroit Lakes Tribune

Hepola, a Perham native, told the local rotarians his campaign for governor will focus on policies that will: improve Minnesota schools; provide economic opportunities for communities small and large; and bring a human-center to healthcare.

"Think about how Minnesota was positioned in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s, we were a national leader in education, the Minnesota miracle, right? That set all of us up into success as young adults and into our careers," he said. "And now, that's gone because we have sat by and not done enough for far too long."

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His plans for creating "healthier" schools, he said, include: incorporating elders into the schools as a learning extension; experiential learning through school partnerships with local businesses; and creating a statewide group of teachers that specializes in online learning to give students a better remote learning option.

"We are relying on a 20th Century educational model to prepare our kids for the 21st Century?" said Hepola. "It's outdated ... this is not just limited to Minneapolis, it's a statewide problem."

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Minnesota gubernatorial candidate Cory Hepola speaks to Rotarians during a meeting of the Perham Noon Rotary at Lakes Cafe in Perham on March 24, 2022. Hepola is a Perham native and the event was his first hometown campaign stop since launching his 2022 gubernatorial bid.
Michael Achterling / Detroit Lakes Tribune

He said he also believes economic opportunity for Minnesota communities means a return to innovation and keeping younger Minnesotans in-state.

"The number one thing keeping us from that is taxes," said Hepola. "We need to be small business champions ... our corporate tax rate, if you compare that with North Dakota, we have a flat 9.8%, they have 1-4%, if you're Moorhead, or Dilworth, or Hawley, you're going there."

In his public health pillar, he said Minnesota needs to start putting the humans first, which means a higher focus on mental health and addiction. Additionally, he hopes to hear more stories from residents as he travels around the state this spring and summer about their mental health and addiction struggles.

He also said cryptocurrency, and the technology behind it, represents a new innovation that should be explored further.

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Minnesota gubernatorial candidate Cory Hepola speaks to Rotarians during a meeting of the Perham Noon Rotary at Lakes Cafe in Perham on March 24, 2022. Hepola is a Perham native and the event was his first hometown campaign stop since launching his 2022 gubernatorial bid.
Michael Achterling / Detroit Lakes Tribune

"You look at the trends and you look where that's going, and the possibility of what that might be," said Hepola. "If there are ways for us to positively regulate, perhaps, but then that could be a driver for success in Minnesota."

Hepola said he also supports the push for recreational marijuana in Minnesota.

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"We'll get it done," he said. "There's enough support even on the Republican side ... and we have to look at it too, not only for safety, and regulating it, but also, it's a business opportunity. Utilize it."

When asked if he thought was going to play the spoiler in the governor's race, he said, "That's not going to happen."

"Most of these people in here vote Republican, they are all going to vote for me now," said Hepola. "And the reason being, and the Republicans just don't know it yet, but we are financially thoughtful. We are pro-small business, we are pro-business, and we know that that's the beating heart of our community, so once they see our economic opportunity plan, they are going to freak out because they are so focused in on the mask mandate, and anti-vaccine, and election results, and do you know what, most Republicans do not care. They are ready to move on."

Hepola said he talked to a lot of people when he filmed his Otter Tail County web series, Rural By Choice , and discovered the perceived differences between urban and rural residents is mostly a myth. The second season of the series has finished shooting and will premier online in September or October, he added.

"I've gone out there and I've talked to people from rural and urban areas and we're not that different, they may have different slants and different views, but we're not that different," he said. "But the machine wants to tell you we are. They are the ones dividing so that they can stay in power."

He also said he believes one of the ways to unite rural and urban Minnesota residents is by thinking in a longer time frame than just the two- to four-year election cycle. If Minnesotans think more long-term, he said, it can be a uniting factor of building something together instead of just a competition between warring political factions.

"We're looking to 2030 ... and we are looking at what made Minnesota absolutely unique and we're doing it again," said Hepola. "We get to a better place together."

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Minnesota gubernatorial candidate Cory Hepola speaks to Rotarians during a meeting of the Perham Noon Rotary at Lakes Cafe in Perham on March 24, 2022. Hepola is a Perham native and the event was his first hometown campaign stop since launching his 2022 gubernatorial bid.
Michael Achterling / Detroit Lakes Tribune

Multimedia News Lead Reporter
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