Residents of Senate District 36 (which includes Champlin, Brooklyn Park and a portion of Coon Rapids) will vote Tuesday, Nov. 8, in the general election.
Those candidates appearing on the ballot include incumbent John Hoffman and Jeff Lunde.
The candidates were asked to include their thoughts in statements. Each were asked to include a short biography of themselves and their backgrounds along with their personal and professional experiences. They were also asked to comment on the top issues they feel are important in this election and any changes they would like to see made to address Senate District 34’s most urgent problems.
The responses received include:
I would describe myself as a problem solver. I dive deep into issues, learn as much as I can about them, and then fight to improve situations and produce good results. I served on both state and federal Interagency Coordinating Councils where I advised leaders in education, health, and other services for children and families with disabilities. In 2005 I was elected to the Anoka-Hennepin School Board and served as its Vice Chair. My background serves as inspiration to continue standing up for kids and families in the northwest metro. I am married to Yvette and we have a daughter and live in Champlin.
We must continue to work on education equity for our school districts, especially Anoka Hennepin and Osseo. We need and want our youth prepared for the 21st century and one of the most important ways to solve this is ending Minnesota’s achievement gap. That means a child’s zip code shouldn’t be a determination of funding and to invest in flexible, parental choice of early childhood to ensure children are ready for kindergarten and beyond.
Increasing the number of good-paying jobs remains a critical issue. Our corner of the northwest metro has seen a lot of great changes in the last four years. My support of Highway 610 has seen a flurry of new business. Our home prices are on the rise and our region has become a more desirable place to call home.
I want to expand on this success. The more jobs we can bring in — the more money will be spent in our community — which helps support small businesses and the local economy.
Our region has seen firsthand what a transportation project can do for the economy. Our state needs to make a commitment to funding a comprehensive transportation package. That means balancing the needs of our suburban area with the metro’s high density and transit needs as well as the needs of rural Minnesota.
Good governance can help by awarding state bonding dollars to critical infrastructure projects like I have with the Champlin Mill Pond, Brooklyn Park Armory and Armstrong Boulevard. It also means investing in our public schools and commit to helping the most vulnerable citizens as Hubert Humphrey said “the moral test of government is how it treats those in the dawn, the twilight, and the shadows of life.”
My vision for the future includes safe neighborhoods — where oil trains don’t block traffic and congestion on our roads and bridges are significantly eased. Where our school districts lead the way in preparing all students. I envision us closing the state’s achievement gap, and graduating well-educated students who go on to succeed and find good-paying jobs.
I want to work toward a health care system that is affordable, manageable and who places caring for patients above profits. I want to continue working in a Bi Partisan manner as I have in the last four years putting our community first and setting aside bickering and brinkmanship. Over 76 percent of my bills were bi-partisan.
Currently serving my second term as Mayor of Brooklyn Park; I am a member of the Met Council Transportation Advisory Board. I am a founding member of President Obama’s My Brother’s Keeper Initiative, and received the 2013 Minnesota After School Champion Award. I helped lead an effort to build the first Suburban Teen Homeless shelter, and am a board member for the Rebels Youth Lacrosse Association. I am married and have two sons who attend school in the Anoka-Hennepin School District. After a long career in the technology industry, I switched careers to become a teacher with Hennepin Technical College.
I am running for State Senate because I want to focus the legislature on the challenges facing us, not the partisan politics and special interests. As Mayor of the most diverse large city in Minnesota, I know how to effectively bring people together and focus on solutions which work for all, not just a few. As Mayor, I have led a community effort which has resulted in a 33 percent reduction in crime, bringing in over $1 billion dollars of economic investment and have driven community pride in our city to over 90 percent. These efforts required focusing on the root cause, and driving toward results. The failure of the Minnesota legislature to pass a bonding bill and tax cuts, solely due to partisan fighting, is irresponsible and shows a lack of respect for our state’s needs. As State Senator, I will do better, I will focus solely on our challenges.
We need to develop a decade long plan to maintain and improve our transportation system, and stop the divisive fights which are hampering our efforts to solve our transportation challenges. I do not support an increase in the gas tax as it hits too heavily on our Senior Citizens who are living on fixed incomes and those who are facing economic challenges. Not passing a bonding bill makes our transportation issues larger, so we need to stop making things worse with inaction.
Reforming our current tax policy, which is directly impacting our business community with some of the heaviest tax burdens in the country and affecting Minnesotans on fixed or limited income. Passing the largest tax increase in Minnesota history was not a solution as it raised taxes on everyone, rich and poor, as it included increase in taxes on clothing, cigarettes, services such as auto repair, over the counter medicine and more. We are making life more difficult for business and residents, along with inaction to combat the large increases in healthcare costs. The pocket veto of modest tax reform earlier this year was just another failure to act.
To best support education, I favor increasing the per pupil formula — the basic funding formula for schools. This allows local school districts the flexibility to address local challenges and supporting great teachers. Until we tackle poverty as the root cause of the challenges facing low income students, we are not effectively tackling the education gaps which exist in Minnesota.