Nicole Beaulieu of Bemidji, a student and Ojibwe language teacher, filed recently as a Democratic candidate for the House 4A seat held by Rep. John Persell, DFL-Bemidji.
She's running "because I know we aren't being represented as well as we can be. It's time to go back and fix the things we left behind so we can move forward in unity for a better Minnesota."
She filed March 4 with the state Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board as a DFL candidate for House 4A, although a three-page news release last week didn't indicate which party.
In it, she leveled criticisms at both Persell and Bemidji Mayor Richard Lehmann, who a week ago declared his candidacy as a Republican for House 4A.
"Both John Persell and Mayor Lehmann have repeatedly failed the native community of Bemidji area by excluding our needs and special problems resulting from systemic and institutionalized racism from all matters or events that are meant to demonstrate concern for our shared community and citizens," Beaulieu wrote.
"Neither Mayor Lehmann nor Rep. John Persell do anything about helping people living in poverty as a result of the lack of enforcement of affirmative action which is only one of the many reasons why I wish to be your 4A House of Representative chair holder," she said.
Beaulieu did not return an e-mail asking for more information.
Born in Duluth, Beaulieu grew up in Bemidji and spent summers with her grandmother on the Leech Lake Reservation. She was graduated from Bemidji High School in 2005, and earned an associate's degree in Anishinaabe studies from Leech Lake Tribal College in 2008. Currently she is a student at Bemidji State University and teaches Ojibwe language at Leech Lake Tribal College.
"I will work to improve the relationship between natives and non-natives. I would like to change the perspective of the native and non-natives opinion of one another by working hand in hand in all matters we engage ourselves in within our community," she wrote. "... it saddens me to think of my own daughter exposed to the harsh realities of institutionalized racism of teachers and non-native students alike, which I have endured ..."
She recalls growing up in a family of seven, making use of government programs and the food shelf, and said she would work to ensure those programs are available to all in need and entitled to receive.
"Throughout my candidacy I will make the recognition of native American issues in this city a priority along with several other important downfalls of our community," Beaulieu wrote. "I want the people of the state of Minnesota to know that we are citizens too and we can represent our state just as well as anybody else. We want fair opportunities at whatever it is a native American may pursue as an opportunity to raise above and beyond discrimination."
In these economic times, government programs need to be expanded, not cut back, she said, adding that it is "interesting Mayor Lehmann chose to build the Bemidji Regional Event Center rather than create the kinds of programs to help the people of Bemidji to cope better with life here."
Beaulieu wrote that she is anti-abortion, "but why are we worrying about the unborn when the living are going without jobs, going hungry, going without adequate health care, or adequate education?"
She disputes Lehmann's economic solution to jumpstart the economy by allowing the private sector to expand with less government regulation.
"It is because of this over-emphasis of doling out taxpayer money to private industry which is largely responsible for the present state of the economy," Beaulieu wrote. "Massive public works programs will create jobs and stimulate the economy. Mayor Lehmann's 'trickle down' theory of economics has been proven not to work."
She also advocates for a public health program providing everyone with free health care, as is the goal of the Indian Health Service for American Indians, would create thousands of jobs in Minnesota.
She sides with Senate 4 DFL candidate Greg Paquin that the city failed to use affirmative action policies in hiring for the BREC, a decision the city says went to the construction manager and which there is no formal policy as no federal funds are involved.
"It saddens me when we have to utilize these laws meant to open up doors of opportunity for my people. But, the door has been slammed in our faces, once again, because of lack of enforcement of affirmative action," she said.
Beaulieu is part of an effort to petition the United Nations human rights commissioner in Geneva to review human rights within the United States, including that of American Indians.
"I am doing this in hopes of giving our matters global attention so that those that create these injustices can no longer hide their corrupt agenda which has been devaluing the quality of life of my people for a very long time," Beaulieu wrote. "Native American aboriginals are not represented by present Democrats from Senate District 4 or House Districts 4A or 4B."
In filing her Nicole Beaulieu Committee, she lists herself as campaign chairwoman and treasurer. She reports she will not collect a public subsidy for her campaign.
Lehmann has yet to file a campaign committee with the state board.