Two candidates are vying for your support as representative of House District 20B, which represents the majority of Northfield.
The two candidates are:
- David Bly
- Brian Wermerskirchen
Patch asked candidates to respond to a series of questions. Below, you will find responses from Bly, the DFL-endorsed candidate. You can also read responses from Republican Wermerskirchen here. Responses are written by the candidates and have not been edited by Patch.
In the coming weeks we'll run Q&As and video interviews for candidates who are on Nov. 6's ballot in Northfield-related races. You can also find out more information about the candidates by checking out our election guide for all election-related stories.
Family: Two adult children, Gareth and Julia
Education: BA St. Olaf College, MA St. Mary’s Univ.
Occupation: Retired teacher, writer
Political experience: Served two terms in the Minnesota House
Why are you running for the Minnesota House? What do you offer to House District 20B?
Serving our community in Legislature is an honor. I’m a good listener committed to applying a balanced approach to solving budget problems. Last session the budget was balanced by borrowing billions from our schools, borrowing from the tobacco fund, raising property taxes on the middle class and deep cuts to seniors and the disabled - yet we still face another deficit next year. We can, and must do better - the future of our state depends on it.
I have lived in the District most of my life. I understand the communities and the challenges citizens face. I have talked with and worked with farmers, business owners, workers, teachers, students, parents and believe I can be a good advocate for their concerns. When I was in office I met with city government officials, County Board members and Township supervisors across my district on a regular basis. I participated in town hall meetings and talked with constituents where ever I met them at the grocery store or community events. I worked with small business owners to try to bring property taxes under control. When Governor Pawlenty wanted to cut programs for the disabled,saying, he wanted to take 'a nine iron to government spending.' I spoke up on the House Floor to protect them.
What’s the most pressing issue facing the state? House District 20B?
Moving our economy forward to create jobs and put people back to work with jobs that can sustain their livelihood. Two related issues are (as they are the biggest pieces in our budget pie) health care costs and adequately funding education. We need to reform our health care system to bring down costs and we need to rethink how we fund our schools. Health care costs are on the rise not only in government but int the private sector as well. Increasing health insurance costs hurts every budget in government as well as on main street. Even school budgets are hurt by it. We need to bring this under control.
I hear of three concerns in the district, one is, rising property taxes and another is, adequate funding for education and three is getting the economy going again. Over the last decade we have seen property taxes double as the state has pushed the cost of government more and more to the local level. This puts pressure on local governments and school boards to raise property taxes. With the loss of the Market Value Homestead credit property taxes on Ag land local businesses went up 10.8% over the previous year. If we moved back to a more progressive tax system, relying more on income tax as opposed to property taxes, we could change the course at the same time move to make sure there is more equity from school district to school district as well as community to community as we did in the 70s when both sides supported what was known as the “Minnesota Miracle.”
What is something you think the current Legislature has done well?
They did pass flood relief legislation in a timely manner with out distraction. They did not make Minnesota a so called ‘right-to-work’ state.
What is something you think the current Legislature hasn’t done well?
I do not believe they worked together well across party lines, they have not worked with the governor well. They shut down the government rather than do their what they were elected to do - work with the governor to balance budget. They missed opportunities to promote economic development, which would have created jobs and stimulated the economy.
What would you have tried to do differently?
When I served in the legislature we had a similar situation with a legislature of one party and a Governor of the other party. Even though it was contentious and we did not agree on many things in the end we came together and compromised and got things done for the people of Minnesota. We did not shut down the government.
How would you describe the relationship between the Legislature and Gov. Mark Dayton?
It is my belief the Governor has tried to work with a hostile legislature. He has welcomed them to work with to tackle the tough problems Minnesota faces. The Legislature has spent considerable time dealing with social issues that have very little to do with our struggling economy. The Legislature has been guided by ideologues who seem to have a very skewed view of how the economy works and were willing to shut down government rather than reach a compromise. Governor Dayton offered the compromise that ended the shutdown.
Why should constituents vote for you on Election Day? What makes you a better choice than your opponent?
I have a proven record of working across the aisle to get things done for constituents. I am an advocate for my district and will make the case for those who come to me for help at the capitol.
From small business owners who wanted me to help with property taxes, to farmers wanting help with green acres legislation, to township supervisors. I brought people together to work out differences and come to a workable agreement.
My experience as a legislator gives me an edge. I know how the legislature works and I proved I can get things done. A few years ago, local property owners were in trouble. Utility companies wanted to use a legal loophole to take their land without a fair hearing. As a legislator, I authored the bill that closed that loophole. When I’m at the Capitol, our property owners can count on me.
Anything else you would like to add?
I believe Minnesota has a long tradition of good government. I would be proud serve this great district and the people who make it so great.