Kunesh, Mary

Meet the Candidate

Running For:
MN State Senate
Political Affiliation:
(651) 247-4642
State Senator
Master of Science, Information Media/Technology, St. Cloud State University, St. Cloud, MN (2010) ; St. Catherine University, St. Paul, MN (1995) BA, Elementary Education (Social Studies)
Biographical Info:
Born in St. Paul, grown up in Sartell, MN, Senator Mary Kunesh, Standing Rock Lakota descendant, was elected to the MN House of Representatives in 2016 and elected to the Senate in 2020. She is the first woman of Native descent to be elected a Minnesota Senator. Mary retired from her role as a public school library media specialist after 25 years’ service and is the author and Chair of the first-in-the nation legislation of the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women Task force in MN and the Missing and Murdered African American Women Task force as well as the permanent office of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Relatives in state government. She has served as an Assistant Majority Leader for the DFL House Caucus and currently holds the role of Assistant Minority leader in the MN Senate - the first Native American to hold that role in the legislature. Mary is a founding member of the Minnesota Native American Legislative and POCI (People Of Color Indigenous) caucuses, has served on education policy and finance committees, Health and Human Services, Agriculture, State Government Finance, Mining and Forestry, and the Redistricting committees. Mary lives in New Brighton, is the proud mother of three adult children and two granddaughters.
Having been an educator for over 25 years, and active community member, and life long learner I came to a place in my life where I knew I had the unique opportunity to advocate for my communities and the good people of Minnesota. My vision for all Minnesotans focuses on investing in strong families and strong communities. I am dedicated to finding good solutions so that our communities continue to be a great place to learn, work, grow, and play. As our neighborhoods grow and become more diverse, our community must continue to be one that supports all families at every stage – from cradle to death, and I am determined to be a good steward to the environment, our families, the business spectrum.


Response Legend

  • YYes
  • NNo
  • ?Declined to Respond/Undecided, Position Unknown/Unclear
  • *Comment
  • Position based upon candidate record or extensive research

Question Response Comments/Notes
1. Should abortions be banned after fetal heartbeat is detected (around 6 weeks gestation)? N* I feel it is a personal decision for the individual, their family, and physician to decide if a pregnancy is terminated or not, no one else, no other entity.
2. Do you oppose all taxpayer funding of abortion? N* Reproductive care is health care and therefore anyone receiving medical care through their insurance whether subsidized by the state or private insurance or through employment should have this medical service provided without interference.
3. Do you oppose physician assisted suicide, also referred to as aid in dying? N* Suffering near the end of life arises from many sources including loss of sense of self, loss of control, fear of the future, and/or fear of being a burden upon others, as well as limiting physical and non-physical symptoms. While medical and palliative care can address and help alleviate many sources of suffering, at some point in an individual who life is already compromised ought to have the autonomy to seek the assistance of a physician to end their life with no recourse to the physician or those who may assist.
4. Do you oppose public school policies that promote transgender ideology, such as comprehensive sex education? N* For a number of years I was fortunate to teach a health class with a chapter on the science-based approach to comprehensive sex education. It was an incredible opportunity to see first-hand how vital role that class was in equipping young people with the knowledge, skills, attitudes, and values they need to determine and enjoy their sexuality—physically and emotionally, individually and in relationships. I believe it ought to be offered at a number of age appropriate and developmental mile stones with well trained, fact based curriculum with the option to opt out for what ever reason parents may express.
5. Do you support legislation that preserves girls’ and women’s athletics for biological females? N* I acknowledge that this is a relatively under-researched field and that there is no clear-cut solution. However, I believe this topic is important to our athletes, families, and communities and I hope to continue to learn and contribute to the ongoing discussion at different levels.
6. Do you support school choice legislation, such as tuition tax credits, that would enable parents to choose the school that best suits their child’s needs? N* Parents already have school choice, they can send their child to which ever school they like. The problem is when parents want to take tax payers dollars to do so. The Minnesota constitution clearly disallows using tax dollars for non public schools, any change would have to be through a constitutional amendment. Should a structure for those families most disadvantaged be proposed in a meaningful way, then I would consider it.ARTICLE XIII (MN Constitution)Section 1. UNIFORM SYSTEM OF PUBLIC SCHOOLS. The stability of a republican form of government depending mainly upon the intelligence of the people, it is the duty of the legislature to establish a general and uniform system of public schools. The legislature shall make such provisions by taxation or otherwise as will secure a thorough and efficient system of public schools throughout the state.Sec. 2. PROHIBITION AS TO AIDING SECTARIAN SCHOOL. In no case shall any public money or property be appropriated or used for the support of schools wherein the distinctive doctrines, creeds or tenets of any particular Christian or other religious sect are promulgated or taught.
7. Should people have their religious freedom protected if they refuse to participate in a same-sex wedding? ?* I uphold the right for LGBT2S individuals or anyone else to not be discriminated against in conducting regular business activities. If a person does not want to participate, then they shouldn't have to. If that person is a business, then they cannot refuse service by discriminating against a particular class under federal, state, or local law.Thanks to federal laws like the Federal Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Americans with Disabilities Act, no business that serves the public can discriminate based on: Race or color National origin or citizenship status Religion or creed Sex Age Disability, pregnancy, or genetic information Veteran status
8. Do you oppose efforts to ban voluntary biblical counseling in the areas of gender and sexuality? N* The key word in this question is 'voluntary'. As legislative policy makers we must protect the right of anyone- minors or adult - to object and not be forced to participate in counseling services if they conflict with the individuals’ sexual identity, religious beliefs, or moral convictions. I do not support conversion therapy.
9. Do you support a parent’s fundamental right to direct the upbringing of their children, including their education and health care? Y* The Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, protects the fundamental right of parents to direct the care, upbringing, and education of their children.