Residents of District 36A (which includes Champlin and a portion of Coon Rapids) will vote Tuesday, Nov. 8, in the general election to fill the Minnesota House of Representative seat for District 36A.
Incumbent Mark Uglem and Kevin Parker are on the ballot.
The candidates were asked to include their thoughts in statements. Each were asked to include a short biography of themselves, their background as well as their personal and professional experiences. They were also asked to comment on the top issues they feel are important in this election and explain any changes they wish to see made to address House District 36A’s most urgent problems.
The responses received include:
I was born to a military family and traveled to many different states while my father served in the Air Force. I finally settled in Minnesota the summer of 2012 and have made it my home ever since. During this time I’ve pursued a Bachelor’s Degree in Health and Human Services and worked in Higher Education Advocacy on behalf of families and students. This lead to my last position held, where I was President of the MSCSA (Minnesota State College Student Association) which represents all of Minnesota’s Community and Technical Colleges.
My top issues are Education, Transportation, and services for Mental and Physical health. Minnesota is among the most expensive in the nation for a college education, and I’ve worked hard to change that dynamic and desire to push it further. While the budget is healthy, I believe investing in key services like our higher education can open up opportunity to many who don’t currently see it at the moment, with the cost of tuition and the staggering average of over $30,000 in student debt for a bachelor’s degree. Having spoken with many families throughout my service and door knocking the last five months, it has become increasingly clear that debt hangs over family’s heads for a decade or more. This is something we need to change.
I am also a strong advocate for services relating to physical disabilities and mental health. As we learn more about varying conditions we know now that there are services integral to someone’s success while living with them. It is possible not only to live but to succeed and thrive with the proper services. I should know, five years ago I was diagnosed as bipolar two. It is with services that I received that I have been able to live, work, and pursue my education and service with no outside help. It gave me the foundation I would need to thrive and last year I was President of a non-profit representing 150,000 people at the Capitol and the Minnesota State System Office, a position I earned through a four-way election. I aim to ensure that everyone has access to services and that they are affordable so they are within reach.
Everyone has the ability to achieve as long as they have the right assistance in understanding their condition.
Living in Minnesota you start prioritizing something else: the quality of our roads. We all know how our weather devastates them and how it affects our travel and our vehicles. Ensuring they are well funded and properly maintained is another goal of mine. Having worked with so many individuals and families has made me see the value of public transportation as well. Not everyone can afford more than one vehicle, and if it breaks down it can leave a family hanging in a terrifying limbo. Ensuring people can reach their jobs, education and doctors on safe roadways is something I think we can all agree is necessary.
I am a retired businessman with over 30 years’ experience in the private sector and have owned or started 3 regional paint manufacturing companies. I retired early as Executive Vice President of Hirshfield’s Paint Manufacturing. In my private career, I was also privileged to serve as President of Color Guild International as well as President of the Northwestern Society of Coatings Technology.
I am married and have lived in Champlin for 27 years. In Champlin I served as mayor from 2006 to 2012, I also served on the City Council of Champlin, Chair of the Planning Commission and also served as Vice President of the North Metro Mayors. I have served the residents of Champlin and Coon Rapids two terms in the legislature.
These are difficult times in our country and state. We have many issues locally which I have been working on.
Our roads and bridges are in terrible shape and commute times are long. I have worked on bills that have resulted in highway 610 being completed this fall. As a member of the Transportation Committee, I also was able to pass bills in the House for additional lanes on Highway 10 in Coon Rapids and rail safety improvements on Hanson Boulevard. I was instrumental in securing over $6 million in grants for the City of Champlin for improvements to Highway 169 starting in 2017. These projects will help our area and communities a great deal.
I have the privilege to represent Anoka-Hennepin schools, the largest in the state. Last budget session, we were faced with a funding gap which would have resulted in hundreds of lay-offs of teachers and increased class size and services would have been cut. I was the chief author of a bill that provided funding so this would not happen. I was awarded the “Legislator of the Year Award” by the Minnesota School Board Association for my work. I will continue to fight for fair and equitable funding for our schools.
As a member of the Bonding Committee, which provides millions of dollars for state public projects, I am keenly aware of our failing infrastructure. I voted to provide for improvements to water treatment and sewage treatment plants for several cities in our state.
The bonding bill also included funds for building improvements for the U of M, Community Colleges and Tech schools.
Lastly, the bonding bill provided for $3.3 million for the restoration of the Champlin Mill Pond, a project the city has wanted since the 1980’s.
All of this needs to be accomplished with fiscal responsibility. There is so much waste in Government we need to be leaner and more efficient at all levels just like the private sector. Government seems to grow by itself and I am always working to limit this.
Our communities are strong. They are made up of good hardworking people. If we keep our eye on the ball, Champlin, Coon Rapids and indeed our state will continue to be a good place to live.