This interview was conducted over email.

Southwest Voices: What are your thoughts on Rep. Frank Hornstein not running for office again?

Isabel Rolfes: Rep. Hornstein's retirement was hard to hear. I am going to miss his insight, his kindness, and his hilarious, yet always on the nose impressions. He taught me so much about how to connect with people. But, more importantly, he taught me to never give up on what is important. Watching him push for his historical transportation bill last year was inspiring. I also couldn't be happier for him in his choice to retire. He put so much thought into this decision and this is what he truly wants. After two decades of public service, he deserves nothing but our praise and admiration.

SWV: How have you worked with Rep. Hornstein in the past?

IR: Last year on the campaign trail, we crossed paths many times on our way to the DFL trifecta. I was also on his re-election campaign this year before he made the decision to not run again. We've worked together to gain DFL majorities, and to do great work with the majorities in passing life-changing legislation at the Capitol. On a more personal level, over the last two years Frank and I have talked a lot about how we can bring people together. He has been a wonderful encyclopedia on policy for me, and I was able to give him insight on how younger voters feel about certain policies.

SWV: Why are you running for Rep. Hornstein’s seat?

IR: Because I have a vision for clean, equitable, and safe Minnesota that is backed by the experience to execute it. I have spent my entire adult life with the DFL fighting, working, and campaigning for its values. Frank at his core is someone who encourages young folks to run for office. His confidence in my ability to do this helped me get here. I am running for District 61A because I am passionate, thoughtful, and personable. These are all qualities that are needed for meaningful collaboration within our community and at the Capitol.

SWV: You have specific priorities listed on your website. Can you talk about how your goal of shepherding the next generation to prosperity is connected to those priorities?

IR: One example I will use is education. By fully funding our schools back to pre-Pawlenty levels, and then more to fund cross subsidies, we will be providing an entire generation of students with the world class education they need to succeed in this world. By funding our schools we are also benefiting the current and future generations of teachers who deserve better pay and stronger protections. By framing visions with a generational lens, it becomes evident that almost any policy we pass, when thinking of its effects on all ages, can lead to policies that are beneficial to everyone, even those who weren’t initially named in receiving the benefits.

What is something unique you would bring to the table as a House representative for 61A?

IR: I have lived in many different parts of this state, and I’ve always been the minority in whatever room I was in. Because of this, it is second nature for me to work with and operate in spaces with folks who have very different perspectives than I do. The experience I have at the Capitol is unique and irreplaceable. I have engaged with issue experts, agency staff, and elected officials, and created meaningful relationships with all of them. I bring a rare perspective of someone who is young, queer, and BIPOC, but also has the ability to make meaningful relationships with those with much different views. Because of this, and my extensive knowledge of the State Legislative process in Minnesota, I can deliver for my constituents starting on day one.