Dear Neighbors,

We are in the final countdown to the election of 2014! My team and I are busy meeting neighbors and hearing about what's working, what's not, and ideas for new directions. The political machine throws around a lot of rhetoric and anxiety as we near election day, and it is helpful to remember all that we have achieved in Minnesota, even as we consider where we want to go in the years ahead.

CNBC ranks Minnesota #3 in Quality of Life!
Forbes ranks Minnesota #3 in Best Place to Make a Living

Minnesota has momentum . . .

Our economy is growing. More jobs are being created. New businesses are opening and expanding. Unemployment is at a six-year low. And we've recovered all of the jobs lost during the recession.

Our state budget is balanced without the games or gimmicks of the past. We have paid back our schools. We were stewards over a $1.2 billion surplus and have a structurally balanced budget for the first time in a decade.

Our students are prospering thanks to our historic investment in education. We funded all-day kindergarten and froze tuition for college students.

We cut taxes for average Minnesotans. Property taxes dropped statewide for the first time in a decade. The 2014 legislature cut taxes for more than two million ordinary Minnesotans.

. . . but there is more work to be done in the future.

I am spending almost every day (and evening!) visiting our East Metro neighborhoods, speaking with as many residents of Senate District 53A as I can. I need to hear your thoughts about Minnesota’s future.

As I've been knocking on doors, I hear that education is top on nearly everyone's list. Neighbors tell me they want to invest in education at all levels: from early childhood, through post-secondary, and beyond. The ethic of life-long learning resonates with us all. I also hear concerns about our infrastructure: neighbors tell me that we need to adequately invest in - and develop sustainable funding for - our roads, bridges, and public transportation. I hear that health policy considerations continue to be a high priority. We must develop a culture that thinks through the health impacts of all policy decisions.

And we don't have to wait for the 2015 session to start before proposing solutions. I am proud to be working with Rep. Erin Murphy on the CHEER bill, which will protect Minnesota women's right to make their own health care decisions.

Thank you for taking the time to share your priorities with me when I come to your door, and I look forward to working with you in the coming months.

Enjoy these glorious fall days, and don't forget to vote on November 4th!

Representative JoAnn Ward
Representing Minnesota District 53A (Landfall, southern Maplewood, southern Oakdale, and western Woodbury)

P.S. Remember that Minnesota has passed no-excuse absentee voting as well! You can vote any time from now until election day.

Find more information about early voting here

To request an early ballot (you can vote in person or by mail), go here. You can track the progress of your ballot online, and even request that absentee ballots be automatically sent to you for all future elections.