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Eagan Candidates Talk Voter ID, Marriage Amendments at Rotary Forum

Four House District 51A and 51B candidates traded blows during an hour-long forum hosted by the Eagan Rotary Club on Thursday.

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Less than a week before the general election on Nov. 6, four House District 51A and 51B candidates delved into controversial territory during a political forum hosted by the Eagan Rotary Club.

Partway through the hour-long event, moderator and Rotary Club member Dave Keller each candidate to describe their stances on both the marriage and Voter ID amendments.

Keller's questions prompted strong, at times personal responses from District 51A candidates Rep. Diane Anderson (R) and Sandy Masin (DFL) and District 51B candidates Laurie Halverson (DFL) and Rep. Doug Wardlow (R).

"This is about real families, and this is about families who currently exist in our state," said Halverson, referring to the marriage amendment debate. Several of her family members would be affected by the amendment, Halverson said. The amendment would not only prevent same-sex marriage, but stop the conversation altogether, she said.

Halverson's comments prompted a quick reply from Wardlow, who said he supports the amendment because it allows Minnesota residents—rather than "activist" judges—to settle the question.

"This amendment is not going to hurt anyone, because of current law," said Wardlow, referring to an already-enacted Minnesota law that prohibits same-sex marriages.

Masin, who voiced her opposition to the marriage amendment, described it as a "religious issue" that has no place in the Minnesota Constitution. Like Wardlow, Anderson said it was an issue that deserved to be put to a statewide vote.

The candidates' opinions on Voter ID fell along party lines, with Halverson and Masin opposing it and Wardlow and Anderson supporting the measure.

The questions—and the candidates' responses—sent murmurs through the audience during the debate, which was held at the Eagan Community Center. The forum was the second of two such discussions held by the Rotary Club. Last week, local Senate and Dakota County Board of Commissioners candidates met to debate.

The amendments weren't the only issues that emerged during the event. The audience also posed questions on a handful of familiar topics, including education, taxes and Minnesota's small business environment.

In a moment of agreement, both Wardlow and Halverson said tax reform was necessary to ease the financial burden on local small businesses. Wardlow criticized the current tax system as "Byzantine" and characterized the state's business climate as poor.

Masin criticized the current legislature, laying blame for the government shutdown earlier this summer at the feet of sitting legislators. The state's budget solutions weren't really solutions, Masin added, and will cause future complications.

Anderson, for her part, painted a rosier picture of the state's financial situation.

"My opponent left us with a $6 billion deficit when she left office," Anderson said. "I went and took that $6 billion deficit and we turned it into a $1 billion surplus."

Rosco November 01, 2012 at 03:03 PM
The cost for the voter ID will be harmful to Minnesota residents. Neither Wardlow or Anderson spent anytime on creating jobs. They only want to make it difficult for our students, disabled, elderly and military to vote. Fire them both. We need jobs not people who spend our tax dollars trying to hurt those serving our country.
Grace Kelly November 01, 2012 at 03:14 PM
Blatant Outright Lie pushed by: "My opponent left us with a $6 billion deficit when she left office," Anderson said. "I went and took that $6 billion deficit and we turned it into a $1 billion surplus." Actually, that $1 billion surplus, depended on $2.7 billion borrowing from schools, which means there is actually a deficit. The Republicans paid a tiny bit of that (.4 billion) so they could they run "paid it back" ads. The Republicans also said that schools could spend more per pupil (with less money) so they could run "increased funding" ads. Republicans are counting on a media that never corrects the lies. The truth is that Republicans will not take fiscal responsibility for what they do. Republicans shut down the government for 21 days. There were even remarks about that shutdown being a good thing permanently. With Republican attitudes about government, we here in Eagan and Burnsville could find ourselves here after a tornado, flooding or mega-storm with no organized response for help. I ask any business Republican out there - would you hire anyone who said that your business was not useful and should be shut down? If you hired a person like that, how would you expect that person to perform? What if they told blatant outright lies? Isn't time that we applied the same job expectations to our current Republican state senator and our current Republican state representations that we would apply in any other job?
Thomas Anderson November 01, 2012 at 03:58 PM
Fire all of these Republicans. They lied about the budget, they lied about stealing money from our schools and they are lieing about the voter ID amendment. AND they created zero jobs while in the power.
Sherry D. November 01, 2012 at 10:21 PM
Sometimes I feel like the Republican candidates live in an alternate universe. They still hype that they created a "surplus". They took money from schools, they shut down the State, they did not pass a single jobs bill. They spent their two years in office trying to push through their devisive social agenda, and when they couldn't; they decided to change the State constitution. Don't let them get away with it! Vote No on the amendments and Yes on the Senate District 51 Democrats.
Ed S. November 04, 2012 at 06:20 PM
How can a surplus be worse than a deficit? In what govt, business, or household is that the case? They say that they took money from the schools. But no one says how the schools are worse. Still maintaining hi cost pools in every middle school that are rarely used The new construction @ the HS is complete. What are the schoolls missing that is so bad. Less administrators may not be a bad thing. What's broken? Regarding the amendements, do your homework. See the videos of how easy voter fraud in the state of MN. The definition of marriage has only been around for 4000 years of so, its not in the constitution because it was implied. But there is a court case pending that will change that definition. Do you want a judge to decide or Minnesota Voters. If the Marriage amendment fails, then you can count on the judges changing the definition to change. With that comes same sex teaching in both public and private schools for accreditdation purposes, businesses that have faith objections will be sought out to comply to services for the same sex marriages or face fines or flat out disolve their businesses. Don't believe me, check out what has happened in Massachussetts, Maine and Canada. If this amendment fails it opens Pandora's box to many legal and cultural changes. Do your homework on the gay agenda. Did you see the cover of the City Pages last week about poly memeber marriages should be legal. This doesn't end if you don't change the constitution now.

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