Courtesy Ray Sandman’s Campaign Office
Ray “Skip” Sandman has his sights set on the 8th Congressional District in Minnesota as the Green Party candidate.

Sleep With One Eye Open, Sandman has Entered Minn. Congressional Race

Vincent Schilling

Ray “Skip” Sandman (Ojibwe) a Vietnam veteran that served two tours and worked as a union corrections officer for 25 years is now running for the 8th Congressional District in Minnesota as the Green Party candidate.

A firm advocate against the possibility of sulfide mining that supports renewable energy and a living wage, Sandman has received a strong green party endorsement.

In an interview with ICTMN, Sandman spoke about his reasons for running and what he will be fighting for.

What first made you decide to run for this congressional office?

I had a dream about a year and a half ago and in that dream I was watching children play in the water. One of the things that an individual asked me was, "What are you going to leave the children?" I had to think about that and ask why they were asking that question. Also in the water there were all races. It came to me later on that the children were enjoying, playing and swimming in the water.

I knew I had to do something for the water. That was the compelling reason as to why I ran for this office.

The Green party had approached me back in March. They said they liked my stance and the way I talked was in alignment with the Green party platform. I told them I would think about it – a month later I accepted their endorsement. I was also endorsed by the state of Minnesota.

What type of support are you getting from your community?

I am getting great support from the community and people are stepping forward. We are getting a lot of contributions. There are also people who weren't even aware of the Green party who like what I am talking about so I am getting support from all over the eighth Congressional District.

Some people are saying it is about time that we have a third candidate to choose from because they have become disenfranchised with a two-party system. Just to get ballot access I was given 13 days to collect 1,500 signatures. I worked my butt off and was able to get 1,778 signatures. I could not have accomplished this alone. A lot of people stepped forward to take out these petitions.

What issues are most important to you to address in this district?

Right now we are looking at pollution to the water as an issue; there is metal mercury in high levels. One in 10 babies are born with high levels of methyl mercury in their blood.

The most important issue is the water with the copper sulfide mining they are proposing to do it is so dangerous. It is not if it will leak, it's when it will leak. Every place in the world that this type of mining has been done, the containment fields have failed and polluted the water. A containment field in British Columbia broke and spilled five billion gallons of toxic contaminated water into the river.

We do not have the science or technology to clean up this type of mining. Scientists at Polymet say if these chemical spill into the water it will be 500 years of contamination at the minimum.

How are your views different from those you are running against?

First of all I am against the sulfide mine. I am also for renewable and reusable energy. We need to start looking into the future and start planning ahead. We can have entrepreneurial-based programs to start companies to embrace solar energy and wind power. There is a company in Germany that creates a wind power unit that provides 80 percent of a three bedroom homes electrical needs.

If we back it up with solar power you can sell the excess energy back to the utility company. Fossil fuel corporations will not put money or a thought toward this.

Other issues I am running on include the devastation of student debt. Minnesota is the fourth highest in the nation for student debt. If we can bail out Wall Street when it was deregulated – giving them a loan of .75 percent why can't we do that with our students?

Student loans are non-dischargeable. My question to Congress and the powers that be in Washington is: why are we looking at our students as a resource? They are not a money tree, they are broke. My son and wife are in school; their debts won't be done until they are almost 80 years old because of the interest rates they are locked into.

There is also a high-speed train proposal from Minneapolis to Duluth with a $1 to $2 billion price tag. People wonder where the money will come from, and I say we give major corporations subsidies annually as taxpayers. Why not redirect that money back into the states? This money can be used for social programs, infrastructure transportation roads and bridges and more. The train would bring 13,000 full-time jobs with benefits – my opponents support the mining project that would bring a few hundred temporary jobs at risk to the $200 million a year tourist industry.

Have Native American issues ever been a strong consideration in your district?

Not so much however I do wish tribal communities, there are five reservations within the eighth Congressional District, would stand up and support in unison my run for office. Some are coming forward but others are reluctant. I wish people would step more forward to help our future.

Why are you the best candidate for the job?

First of all, I am a veteran and I support veteran’s benefits and the support that they need. My opponents are not veterans. I have seen commercials were they're shaking hands of the veterans, in attempt to get that vote. Who understands veterans and their needs more than a veteran?

I am also a tribal elder who has a responsibility to protect our children and our other elders as well as our Native way of life.

Any comments you would like to add?

This is the hardest I have ever worked in my life. I have always been in the service of people. So this is something I enjoy doing.


I do have one more comment to add... It is not if I will win, it is when I will win.

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Joe Carroll's picture
Joe Carroll
Submitted by Joe Carroll on
Keep dreaming, as this is the way of the truth! I wish you all the best brother.

Michael Madrid's picture
Michael Madrid
Submitted by Michael Madrid on
My thoughts and prayers are with "Skip" and I hope he offers a third (better) alternative to the current two political parties who seem only suited to constant bickering. I actually hope the Green Party courts more Natives to run under their endorsement as who could be more concerned with the environment than the descendant of one of the original owners? Mr. Sandman has my every concern in his platform: children, the environment and veteran's rights.