Please tell us about your background (family, occupation, experience, community involvement, etc.)
Married, my wife and I live in Leaf Valley. We have one son, one daughter and six grand children. I am a retired electrician, and as a union leader I was responsible for the health and welfare of 2,500 families. I sat on the medical board and helped manage a pension fund valued at over $100 million dollars. I've also worked for Habitat for Humanity and I am a Red Cross volunteer.
Local governments are increasingly having to raise property taxes to balance their budgets while state aid, in many cases, is falling. What will you do about this situation?
We need to take a close look at the businesses that are not paying taxes and are multi-million dollar businesses and receive Tax Increment Financing and the JOBZ program. Tax relief for taxpayers pay for roads and utilities, and these businesses do not pay taxes for years. Tax breaks for the upper people making big wages and are not paying their fair share need to be looked at.
What are your plans to boost agriculture, particularly with alternative energy initiatives putting added pressures on producers and land owners?
We need to continue to do research and develop more uses for the crops farmers raise. I don't know where the pressures on farmers is coming from but it seems foreign countries are starting to send produce into this country and this has to stop. We must not outsource our farmers like has been done in other industries.
K-12 education - What are your insights into where the state's education system is, where it is going and the challenges ahead?
I believe education must change if we are to educate our children for the next century. All children need to have the best we can give them if this state and others want business to start coming here. We must have the best work force in the world. I would work with the state and school districts, having teachers go back and learn what changes we have to make if our children are to compete in the world market. I believe we must pay the teachers who would be willing to do it at the same pay rate as if they were teaching, including cost of tuition.
What other issues do you plan to make priorities if you are elected?
My biggest priority would be to find ways to better the lives of people, starting with jobs. If people have living wage jobs, they will be better able to provide for their families, provide for housing, education, health care, food and clothing. I would work to replace the minimum wage with a living wage. Projects like the Mall of America would have produced over 7,000 jobs.