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Voter's guide: House District 37B

We asked all candidates the same questions and gave them each 600 words to answer. They got to use those words however they thought was best.

The questions are:

1. Why are you the best person to Represent District 37B in the Minnesota House of Representatives?

2. Transportation has been a big issue in this area, with proposals for everything from improved bus transit to light rail in the area? Do you think this area's transportation needs are being met? If not, what must change?

3. What would be your priorities when trying to put together a balanced budget for the state?

4. If you could address just one issue as a state Representative what would it be and how would you address it?

Candidates are listed in alphabetical order.

Judy Lindsay

Why are you the best choice?

My philosophy of common sense, limited government matches up well in this district. People want to be able to have a job, go to work, earn a paycheck, and have government not interfere with their lives. The onerous tax burden and excessive spending implemented by Democrats in just the two years they have been back in the majority is a huge damper on our economy and our lifestyle. Yet, they want to do more! Democrats have a spending problem. Right after the Democrats took the majority, we had a 2 billion dollar surplus and the Democrats spent it. Their second year, they spent us into a billion dollar deficit! Surpluses should be returned to the taxpayers. Spending binges have to stop.

I am the most experienced person running. I served 8? years on the ISD 196 School Board. The 196 School District is the 4th largest in the state with an annual budget of over $250 million and around 3,500 employees.

I served on a statewide education task force. I was instrumental in leading the state to adopt its new graduation standards based on solid academics. I received an award for my outstanding work on this. I have testified before House and Senate committees and helped draft legislation.

I am known for my courage, integrity, honesty, and having a common sense approach to solving problems. I am also known for helping those whom I serve. I have the skills, abilities, and qualifications needed to lead in tackling the problems facing our state today.

Are transportation needs being met?

Highways are the most effective and cost efficient approach to alleviating traffic congestion. Buses and light rail focus on going downtown. Many residents from this district commute to work from suburb to suburb, not downtown. Therefore, for them the best solution, again, is more highways.

I favor rapid bus transit over light rail. Light rail is too expensive and inefficient. Many studies conclude light rail does not alleviate congestion, pollution, or spur economic growth. There is not a light rail system in the world that pays for itself. Therefore, the 97% of Minnesotans who don't use light rail pay higher taxes so the other 3% can ride cheaply. In the meantime, those 97% travel on roads and bridges that need repair or are stuck in traffic because of reduced road capacity.

How would you balance the budget?

The forecast is for another deficit. I believe a fixed percent across the board reduction in state spending is one approach that should be considered. Another approach is zero based budgeting where every program has to justify its budget from the first dollar, not up from last year's budget. Each program must justify its existence and show how efficient it is. I believe the basic functions of government include public safety, our infrastructure and education and that is where our priorities should be placed.

What's your top issue?

Jobs/the Economy:

I would like to work on keeping jobs here in Minnesota and attract new ones by creating a more friendly business climate. We need to reduce taxes and mandates on business; otherwise, the jobs will continue to go elsewhere.

Lowering taxes and government spending will promote economic growth and allow families to keep more of their hard earned money. My opponent stated he supported "raising income and transit taxes." I couldn't disagree more. Families have to live within a budget and government needs to learn to do the same.

Phillip Sterner

Why are you the best choice?

I have lived in this community for 40 years and I understand that the people of this district are moderate, independent thinking individuals like me. The economy is hurting a lot of our community forcing them to decide between food, gas or health care. We must put partisan politics aside to vote for policies and develop solutions that fix our economy no matter if they are Republican or Democratic proposals.

The budget and economy needs someone that doesn't just say no. The budget needs someone with the background of managing a small business, cutting wasteful spending on the Rosemount City Council and developing priorities to make the economy stronger. My background will help us move forward in these difficult economic times.

As a State Representative I will fight to protect property rights of business owners by enforcing and strengthening laws. I will work to develop green jobs, reduce property taxes and invest in the areas that need investment (education, health care and transportation) while cutting spending in other areas.

This is a time for the tricks to stop and real decisions to be made. Democrats and Republicans must work together for the betterment of our community and that is what I will accomplish, if elected. My opponent has made it clear she has no intention of being bi-partisan, that is why Rep. Ozment called her an "extremist."

Are transportation needs being met?

We should focus on transportation before transit. We need to ensure our bridges are secure, our roads properly maintained, and congestion is reduced. Right now we are only spending 51% of federal funds dedicated to the state for bridge maintenance on bridge safety and maintenance. We need to make sure the funds are being spent on maintaining our bridges.

How would you balance the budget?

We have to use a multi-pronged approach to solve the problem. First and foremost we have to inject money into the economy by cutting property taxes. We have to cut wasteful pork projects. When we cut that wasteful spending we can invest it in education, transportation, and job creation.

I would efficiently manage the budget by looking at all parts and finding smart ways to cut. Mrs. Lindsay said she would cut all parts of the budget equally and that doesn't make sound fiscal sense. You should be cutting more from areas like tourism than from education, more from iron range development fund than from transportation. This shows a lack of fiscal experience. I have proposed areas to cut and the place to generate more revenue: more jobs. If we continue to be 44th in the nation in job creation, taxes will continue to skyrocket. I have the experience to help get out of this economic mess.

What's your top issue?

Help families in these difficult economic times. We need to micromanage the budget and efficiently invest in areas of top priority. If we are wasting taxpayers' dollars we can't invest in education, transportation, property tax cuts and investing in jobs.

I will work on the economy in three areas. First - By supporting businesses to generate green manufacturing and technology jobs, Minnesota could be a leader in technology, reduce unemployment, kick start the economy by having more money spent within the state and will reduce taxes by increasing the tax base. Second - I will work to reduce property taxes by fully funding local governments and reducing the need for education and infrastructure levies. Lastly - I will micromanage the budget and look for areas that we are wasteful.

Instead of just voting no like my opponent did on the school board I will look for ways to cut wasteful spending and taxes while investing in important areas for the state.

Kurt Hansen

Why are you the best choice?

I relate extremely well to people in our district. I talk with them everyday about their pets' health and how that affects their family. They deserve to be represented by someone who cares about them, will speak up for them, and will put their interests first. I am known for listening to people, standing up for their rights, and for what is right. I've done that in Rosemount and I'll continue to do that in St. Paul.

I am well prepared to solve today's complex problems. I have advanced degrees in agriculture economics and veterinary medicine. I have local, national, and international experience working with people, and in using applied sciences, medicine, and business. I handle difficult situations and emergencies everyday. I'm ready for State House business.

Are transportation needs being met?

Money is tight right now. We must repair and maintain our roads to keep safe what we use daily. Our suburbs need fixed-route bus lines and transit centers. We are just beginning to work on bus service for east-west suburban transit. This will aid businesses, shoppers, and students. Commuter buses are the most economical solution for now. To accommodate future growth, development of efficient, convenient, and affordable commuter transit may include both light rail as well as expanded bus service. Light rail may be a long-term future solution when budget permits. I would consider transportation options that offer a wide range of choices.   

How would you balance the budget?

My top priority is to eliminate waste, and partisan, frivolous spending. We must invest our taxes wisely in areas that give a positive return and enrich our lives. I support decreasing the commercial tax rate to attract more businesses to our state. This would yield a net economic gain by increasing manufacturing income. Citizens would thereby contribute less income tax and we could still produce a budget surplus.               

I support jobs creation by stimulating technological manufacturing and sustainable energy businesses. Vibrant commerce will increase and stabilize our tax base.  Nationally, Minnesota ranked third in wind-power ability in 2007. Renewable source generators, such as wind turbines, would create more jobs and cut our import spending and energy dependence. Energy production, green technology, and research and development will provide living wage jobs. We can become energy independent and prosper from selling surplus energy and technology to the market place, while preserving a clean environment.        

As one of the wealthiest countries in the world, we can provide affordable health care for everyone. I favor a one-payer, non-government administered system with different plan options and costs. All Minnesotans could be included in one large group, which would allow costs and facilities to be leveraged, and promote administrative efficiency. Rising healthcare costs are a burden to small businesses and families. A progressive and proactive health care system, in which everyone participates, can reduce costs by at least 30%, strengthen preventative care programs, and prevent personal catastrophic financial disaster.                        

We must think differently about education. All citizens need marketable skills to support themselves. We need affordable, accessible early childhood and school preparedness programs. Early exposure to languages, foreign cultures, and advanced technologies will prepare children for their futures. We must provide more hands-on learning. A variety of approaches to concepts will assure that no student is lost in the system. To make higher education and vocational training affordable and debt-free, without raising taxes, we must develop incentives for businesses to aid promising students and establish work-study and social service pay-back programs.                               

What's your top issue?

Promote development of green technology industries through tax incentives. Pay-back will be creation of living wage jobs, increased tax revenues, cleaner environment, decreased dependence on foreign oil, a stimulated economy, and improved balance of trade.