Q&A: Jim Arlt, DFL Candidate for House District 58B

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.

Two candidates are vying for your support as representative of House District 58B, which includes the Dakota County precinct of Northfield.

The two candidates are:

  • Jim Arlt
  • Pat Garofalo

Patch asked candidates to respond to a series of questions. Below, you will find responses from Arlt, the DFL-endorsed candidate. You can also read responses from Republican Garofalo 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.

Jim Arlt

Age: 54
Family: I am married to Renae Arlt, we have 6 children and 6 grandchildren
Education: Associates Degree in Law Enforcement
Occupation: Law Enforcement
Political experience: None

Why are you running for the Minnesota House? What do you offer to House District 58B?

I have had the privilege to serve the citizens of Minnesota in law enforcement for over 30 years. I would like to continue to serve the people of this district as their Representative. I have watched the current legislature become very intransigent in the last 8 years. As an Independent endorsed by the DFL I will work to end the partisan gridlock that leads to government shutdowns and I will work toward passing bi-partisan legislation.

With working in law enforcement I have had many years of experience dealing with people who have had differing viewpoints. I have been successful at working with them to build consensus for a reasonable and productive compromise. I have worked on legislation, testified at subcommittee hearings, and reviewed legislation for the financial impact caused by the legislation. I have worked with businesses, business organizations, non-profit organizations, social service agencies, and law enforcement agencies during my career and I know what it takes to build consensus within groups that have diverse viewpoints.

What’s the most pressing issue facing the state? House District 58B?

The State’s economy and middle class jobs are still the greatest issues facing House District 58B and the State of Minnesota. We need to specifically target manufacturing companies to expand or locate here. These companies should be manufacturers that would need highly skilled workers. Other states have started to successfully recruit manufacturers to their state that had previously moved their production overseas. These types of jobs would provide quality middle class employment opportunities.

This can be accomplished;

  • By increasing the funding of the Minnesota Investment Fund that would be used to help facilitate the costs of a company to move to Minnesota,
  • By building a strong infrastructure of roads and bridges provided for through bonding. Minnesota’s failing infrastructure can be unsafe for our citizens; it damages our economy and makes our state less desirous for a business to locate here.
  • By having an educated workforce through providing affordable, high quality education opportunities through our colleges, technical colleges and high schools for our citizens. A yearly poll of manufacturing execs from across Minnesota revealed that 31 percent of these executives listed finding skilled workers as a major concern currently.
  • By focusing on lowering the unemployment rate of our returning veterans and recent college graduates by offering a tax credit for each new MN employee hired by a MN employer. This tax credit cost would be offset by the income tax receipts from the new jobs created. The small businesses in our communities provide the majority of new jobs and this provision will be beneficial to stimulate new hiring.

The size of the middle class has been severely reduced by the recent recession, job losses, reduction in home values and by the political economic policy of “trickle-down economics”. This has led to a reduction in spending that corresponds with a reduction in demand for the products jobs used to supply. We need to build our economy from the middle class outward and upward.

What is something you think the current Legislature has done well?

The current Minnesota legislature did make some positive decisions during the last two years that I was in agreement with. These are;

  • They passed a bipartisan bonding bill that will put thousands of Minnesotans to work and which will start to improve the public infrastructure necessary for long-term economic growth.
  • They passed legislation that makes the intentional abuse and neglect of vulnerable adults a felony crime and toughens criminal penalties on those who use restraints to abuse and harm children.
  • They started the funding needed for research on aquatic invasive species and to construct and evaluate structural deterrents, such as electrical fish barriers, to protect against Asian carp invasion.
  • They established a small business advocate office within the Business Assistance Center to provide one-stop access for small businesses in need of information or assistance in obtaining or renewing licenses, meeting state regulatory requirements, or resolving disputes with state agencies.
  • They expanded the Minnesota GI Bill so that the Commissioner of Veterans Affairs could develop and implement an apprenticeship and on-the-job training program.

What is something you think the current Legislature hasn’t done well?

The current legislature did not stay focused on working with the Governor to produce legislation that would be enacted to improve our economy by stimulating hiring. This should have been the top priority at the legislature the last two years. The legislature did produce legislation that they deemed to be a “smoking hot jobs bill”. But they failed to work with the Governor to produce something both sides could agree with as to the provisions within the bill and the method of funding the bill. The act of working separately, without compromise, produced nothing besides sound bites, more partisanship, and a high amount of citizen frustration with our government leaders.

What would you have tried to do differently?

As an Independent Democrat I would work toward finding compromise in the positions so that meaningful legislation can again be passed. Neither the Republicans nor the Democrats have all of the “right” answers or solutions. There are good ideas that can be presented from either side that might be beneficial to the State. I would work to find moderates in both parties to influence legislation and work together to provide the leadership the citizens deserve.

How would you describe the relationship between the Legislature and Gov. Mark Dayton?

There appears to be a complete and utter breakdown in respect and trust between the Republican led Legislature and the Governor. Public comments that have been made indicate not only a lack of respect for the position of leadership that a person has been voted into, but has denigrated to personal disrespect and an unwillingness to work together for the benefit of Minnesota. My opponent is viewed as being a major part of this problem. 

Why should constituents vote for you on Election Day? What makes you a better choice than your opponent?

A vote for me would mean;

  • You want someone who will work for bi-partisan solutions.
  • You want someone who will push for the return of the Market Value Homestead Credit on our property taxes and who will quit pushing the costs of state government to the local level because that raises your property taxes.
  • You want a return of consistent funding of our public schools and an elimination of public school funding accounting shifts. An increase in public school funding should not be to cover interest costs because of accounting shifts, as what just occurred, but should be to cover increases in transportation costs or heating costs so that school property tax levy increases do not have to be approved.
  • You want an economy that again has a strong and dynamic middle class.
  • You want a government that works for you again.

Anything else you would like to add?

The mindset that the person from the “other party” is the “enemy” needs to stop so that the partisan gridlock will not continue. The election of extremists from the far right and left paralyzes our government as it brings with it an unwillingness to find a middle ground through any type of compromise. Our government is designed so that ideas can come forward that may improve our state. These ideas, that become bills, go through the legislative process so the Representatives can refine these ideas to prove them beneficial or discard those ideas if they are proven to not be beneficial. This process should be the case no matter which party the person presenting the idea is associated with.

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