School funding, state spending, job creation. Those are just a few of the issues that will drive voters to the polls on Nov. 6 to vote for their preferred candidate in local and state races.
To help voters learn more about Eagan City Council, House District 51A, House District 51B and Senate District 51 candidates, Eagan Patch asked all candidates to submit their responses to a set of questions regarding their views and accomplishments. Each candidate was limited to a 200-word response per question. We will publish their responses in installments leading up to Election Day. For ongoing political coverage, check out our 2012 Election Guide.
Without further ado, here are Senate District 51 Candidate Jim Carlson's (DFL) responses.
Eagan Patch: What inspired you to run for election in Minnesota Senate District 51?
Senate District 51 Candidate Jim Carlson (DFL): I served in the Minnesota Senate from 2007 to 2011 when the Governor and the legislative majorities were dominated by opposing parties. Even though the Governor led with his eyes on higher ambitions, much more progress was made without the present acrimony, partisan standoffs and finally a government shutdown. I am running to offer and apply my private business and prior Senate experience to Governor Dayton's agenda to move Minnesota forward.
Patch: Tell me about your previous accomplishments as an elected official representing Eagan. What other relevant background experience do you think you could bring to the position if re-elected?
Carlson: I served four years in the Senate learning the ropes and the standing up for well-reasoned policy in education, transportation, energy and health care. My engineering background has positioned me as a quick study on technical issues. I sponsored bills for local requestors and supported statewide initiatives in transportation, education and energy policy. Having four years prior experience will enable me to be immediately productive and place me in the upper half of serving senator seniority.
Patch: What is something you think the current legislature has done well?
Carlson: Even though the deal could have been better, I believe the legislature should be commended for preventing a move of the Vikings. Also commendable is the legislation to provide jobs and support, including treatment, to returning military. Many smaller initiatives were also worthy of note, however many important policy bills ran out of time.
Patch: What is something you think the current legislature has done poorly?
Carlson: The present Republican Senate leadership has brought disrepute, poor fiscal decisions and an unprecedented shutdown into Minnesota history. The 2011-12 legislature focused on social issues and avoided addressing critical fiscal and policy issues. To quote the bond-rating houses, this legislature caused a downgrade of the state bond rating due to "poor fiscal decisions". The ballot questions to add two completely unnecessary amendments to the Minnesota Constitution are admitted partisan political games as well as being mean-spirited and unjustified. Draining the reserves, taking education funding and borrowing against future health care receipts are irresponsible actions and represent an inability to make tough decisions. Re-writing history by claiming to have increased education funding, turning a deficit into a surplus and blaming the Governor for their own intransigence has become a statewide strategy to deceive voters.
Patch: What are some of the most pressing, long-term issues facing Senate District 51? The state?
Carlson: Senate district 51 faces many of the same challenges as other Minnesota large Metropolitan communities. Eagan and Burnsville have enjoyed above-average prosperity due to excellent amenities and a diverse mix of businesses that employ thousands of well-paid workers. The challenge is to insure that employers continue to find Minnesota a great place to build businesses with a highly skilled workforce, ready access to markets and a vision for the future. The legislature needs to rise above partisan politics and promote the investments needed to sustain Minnesota as the state having top-tier education outcomes, a great quality of life and the highest concentration of Fortune 500 companies per capita in the nation.
Patch: Why should constituents vote for you in November? What distinguishes you from your opposition?
Carlson: I want to bring back ethics, honesty and fiscal responsibility to the Capitol. I have more than 35 years in the technical aspects of business, including 30 years as an engineer in design, manufacturing and management. My background is solid and shows a dedication to ethics, honesty, completing tasks and standing up for people. I will continue to represent the people of this district and Minnesota, not special, deep-pocket interests, not fringe, bill-mill groups like ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council) and not those who are pouring influence money into races across the country. I do not take lobby money, I don't play for financial favorites and I am willing to speak truth to power. I have a proven track record of frequent town hall meetings and listening to constituents.
Patch: Anything else you would like to add?
Carlson: Burnsville and Eagan are hiring a Senator to represent them. I urge all voters to examine my accomplishments and work history and ask themselves if I am committed to the future of our communities. I ask voters to also examine the history of Minnesota as a high-service state that works, and answer the question: Why? To sustain the Minnesota quality-of-life requires a dedicated and cooperative government that is not afraid to make tough decisions when they are needed. Our past and future is deeply rooted in education investment and achievement. Standings of our best students prove that we have the ability to achieve excellent results in our classrooms with our educators. External issues must be addressed to turn around Minnesota's "education gap" of achievement. Our future depends on our next generation, and they must be ready to accept their responsibility.
Stay on top of the 2012 election cycle. Check out these other Q&As with our local Eagan legislative candidates:
- Q&A: Masin Believes Current Legislature Unable to Address Minnesota's Needs