Rep. Bruce Anderson, a Republican from Buffalo Township who has served as a state representative in the House since 1994, filed earlier this year for the new Senate District 29 seat. That seat replaces the District 19 seat being vacated by Republican Amy Koch of Buffalo, who is not seeking re-election for the new district that covers Monticello, Buffalo, Rockford, Delano, Montrose, Waverly, Howard Lake, Annandale, Maple Lake, South Haven and surrounding townships. Anderson is opposed by DFL candidate Brian Doran of Monticello. The Monticello Times asked candidates to submit biographies and answer these questions: 1) If elected, how would you ease the $1.1 billion deficit that’s projected during the state’s next budget cycle? 2) Explain your position on school funding and reinstating the state-mandated education property tax levy; 3) If elected or re-elected, what will be your No. 1 priority or issue during the 2013 Legislative session?
Anderson: Ruth is my wife. Five children: Leah, Rachel, Janelle, Emily, Benjamin. Three stepchildren: Christina, Jeremy, Elise. Education: B.S. Degree in Business Administration, Northwestern College. Occupation: State Representative former House District19A; retired with 30 years military service; 10 years Manager of Centra Sota Cooperative; seven years customer service representative for CESCO Products Heating & Ventilation Co. I am a lifetime Minnesota resident from 1950 to 1976, except while serving in U.S. Navy for four years and have lived in Buffalo Township since 1976.
Community/Civic Involvement: Functional Industries, Inc. (workplace for individuals with disabilities); Wright County Community Action (W.C.C.A.) Board of Directors; church chairman/member of Celebration Community Church and member/participant of the Business and Government Affairs Committee of the Buffalo/Monticello Chamber of Commerce. Contact info: www.BruceAndersonforSenate.com
Doran: My name is Brian Doran and I live with my wife Denise in Monticello where I was born and raised. My son, Sean, is a graduate of the University of Arizona and presently works in Japan teaching English. My parents, Don and Joan Doran, raised my eight brothers and sisters across from St. Henry’s Catholic Church where I was baptized and served as an altar boy for six years. During my junior and senior high years I had a Star Tribune paper route, worked at Maus’ Foods as a bagger/product stocker, worked on my grandfather’s farm, trimming trees, and shoveled walks to pay for school supplies/clothes, while lettering in wrestling for three years before graduating in 1974. I earned a B.A. from St. Cloud State and when on to graduate from the University of Denver – College of Law with a masters in judicial administration. For the next 16 years my career was improving court systems in Vermont, Arizona, California, Nevada and Minnesota at the city, county and state level. During 2000, President Clinton asked the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to find citizens with expertise in rule of law/governance to help Kosovo become a nation. USAID recruited me to be their lead person for the court administration program. I left my position as Deputy State Court Administrator for the Nevada Supreme Court to serve during 2001.
After 9/11, President Bush asked USAID to find citizens with expertise in rule of law/governance to help Afghanistan become a nation, and I served for 20 months as the senior court administration expert. During the Iraq War, President Bush asked USAID to find experts in Governance and I served for 19 months improving services of the district/provincial governments. During the military and civilian surge of 2010, President Obama asked USAID to provide civil expertise in rule of law/governance to support the military efforts in moving the Afghan government through stabilization to transition and I served for 14 months. Currently I am a mentor with the Foreign Service Institute training military/civil personnel deploying to Afghanistan.
Anderson: In 2010 the new conservative Republican majority faced a $6.2 billion deficit. By the February/March 2012 forecast this same majority saw a $1.1 billion surplus without raising taxes. With a projected $1.7 billion more revenue in 2013 – Minnesota doesn’t have a revenue problem – Minnesota has a spending problem! The reason there is a projected deficit is simply because the state plans to spend more than it receives from the taxpayers. We need to prioritize spending, keep working to reduce government waste like duplicative regulations, back office processes and balance the budget without increasing taxes!
Doran: I believe a combination of spending cuts and increasing revenue. Some ideas presented to me during my meetings with local businesses and citizens include the following: Increase revenues by closing corporate tax loopholes (this was suggested by both Best Buy and Target to reduce unfair competition from outside corporations who do not have on-the-ground operations in Minnesota); passing legislation that requires online sales tax to level the playing field (make online businesses collect sales tax like local business). We can reduce expenses by moving responsibility and resources from the state to townships, county and city officials where government is smaller and closer to its citizens and consolidate state agencies where appropriate to reduce redundant services.
Question 2 (Education Funding)
Anderson: In the 2011-12 biennium, the Republican majority increased funding for education over the previous biennium by $465 million, while implementing reforms to drive more dollars to the students and classrooms. Our mission has been “kids first, no excuses, no exceptions.” I support getting more dollars for students provided reforms are in place to improve student outcomes, close the achievement gap with new enrollment options to students in low-performing schools and replace integration aid with literacy programs. If dollars are provided where they should go – to students and classrooms, there would need to be relief of some state mandates so that with an achievement-based evaluation process in place, those schools and teachers, who are the professionals after all, could do their jobs and do them better. When the state government tries to micro-manage the classroom, we end up with a lower achievement rate. Ask any teacher who has been around long enough how much more they are required to include in their school year that isn’t really the basics of a good, solid education foundation. It’s no wonder we need to have remedial classes in colleges now. By reinstating the state-mandated education property tax levy, school districts, namely property poor districts, could use the extra money, but local property owners in each area could find themselves financially taxed more. In the long term, especially, when it comes to seeking local referendums for operating levies or capital improvement levies, this proposal must be weighed very carefully as to the long-range effects.
Doran: I have met with Rockford, Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted, Annandale, Maple Lake School Boards and many of the other superintendents of Wright County. I support their recommendation, an equitable system means the tax burden on property with similar value should be uniform throughout the state. I will work to make this happen.
Question 3 (Legislative Priorities)
Anderson: Jobs! Jobs! Jobs! The people of Senate District 29 need jobs and I want to strengthen polices that support job growth and government reform. Our citizens demand and need quality private sector job growth. Both the state and federal governments are ridden with debt and out-of-control spending. We need to stop job-killing tax burdens, and provide structural reform for cost efficiency and long-term fiscal stability. We can improve investment and expanding tax credits for research and development. We need to promote choice of insurance companies across state lines, and value the private health care marketplace. Promoting jobs can also come in the form of lifting the moratoriums on coal and nuclear energy. All these measures will help provide jobs for Wright County’s excellent workforce and our well trained, experienced military veterans.
Doran: Bringing elected officials, local and state, together to present, pass, and implement legislation that focuses on the best services for our citizens. It should always be about the people, and not the party. My entire career in the U.S. and overseas has been bringing groups with different agendas to a common goal of providing better services to their citizens. It did not matter to me if the best idea came from an Albanian, Serbian, Sunni, Shite, democratic or republican. Whoever brought a good idea forward, I worked to bring the groups together to share the burden and opportunities of implementation.