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 House District 51A candidate Laurie Halverson's (DFL) responses.
Eagan Patch: What inspired you to run for election in Minnesota House District 51B?
House District 51B Candidate Laurie Halverson (DFL): Like many Minnesotans, I am frustrated by the dysfunction at the Capitol and wanted something better for our community. For much of my life, I have worked to encourage others to take action and be civically engaged. With the issues facing our state, I knew that it was time for me to answer to call to leadership. I love our community and I will bring Eagan’s values to St. Paul. I’ll work to bring a sense of collaboration back to the Minnesota Legislature. It’s time to restore a sense of faith in our elected leaders by focusing on our shared priorities, not just politics, and by working across the aisle to get things done. I will work hard for those things which people in my district value most like education, jobs, transportation and health care. Our state is facing many challenging issues and we need leaders who can work together for the benefit of our communities. I’m committed to listening to members of my community and getting the job done.
Patch: Tell me about your previous accomplishments as a public official in Eagan. What other relevant background experience do you think you could bring to the position if elected?
Eagan: I have a passion for promoting civic engagement, and my commitment to community involvement is demonstrated in my professional, educational, and volunteer experience. I am an active volunteer community leader. I chair the Eagan Advisory Parks and Recreation Commission and I volunteer with the Eagan Foundation, which raises scholarship money for Eagan students. I currently work as a stay-at-home parent. I previously worked for Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota in Eagan on many grassroots initiatives. These include engaging citizens throughout the state in dialogs about how Minnesota can improve our health care system and leading the award-winning CitizenBlue program to help Blue Cross employees become more active and engaged citizens. I’ve also volunteered for the League of Women Voters of Minnesota in many capacities, and I served as a volunteer for the Citizens League on various citizen-led public policy initiatives. I have a degree in Political Science from the College of St. Catherine and I attended the Master of Public Affairs program at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota. As my background demonstrates, listening to and engaging with stakeholders in my community will by a top priority for me as a legislator.
Patch: What is something you think the current legislature has done well?
Halverson: I commend members of both parties for enacting a bonding bill in 2012 that will put thousands of Minnesotans back to work. However, after an historic government shutdown that was the result of partisan gridlock, along with most Minnesotans, I struggle to find much to commend.
Patch: What is something you think the current legislature has done poorly?
Halverson: The current legislature has done a poor job of creating a responsible state budget that reflects Minnesota’s priorities I also think hardline partisan ideology has gotten in the way of good public policy. I believe one of the state’s top priorities is to support our schools, which ensures that all Minnesota kids get the best start in live and the we create a strong and educated workforce. Unfortunately, over the past couple of years, the legislature—including my opponent—has decided to balance the state budget by borrowing from our schools. Deficit spending like this not only kicks the can down the road by not dealing with our budget issues, but it puts the financial health of our state and our school districts in jeopardy. Additionally, by not facing our budget responsibilities honestly, the legislature has created a disproportional reliance on property taxes—raising taxes on middle class families and small businesses by $370 million last budget cycle. Putting off making responsible budget decisions creates an unstable financial future and leaves Minnesota business without a predictable path to plan for business growth and increased hiring.
Patch: What are some of the most pressing, long-term issues facing House District 51B? The state?
Halverson: The legislature has repeatedly relied on deficit spending and accounting shifts in the state budget, which is putting the prosperity of Minnesota at risk. We must work together with stakeholders to find long-term budget solutions provide predictable revenue to fund state priorities without further increasing our dependence on property taxes. I’m committed to supporting Eagan families and businesses with lower property taxes and working toward tax reform that creates a fairer and simpler tax code. Additionally, we know that we must continue to support businesses in helping Minnesotans find and keep good paying jobs so that we can grow a thriving middle class.
Another important issue for the state and or our community is education. Our public schools will not be able to provide the world-class education today’s students need to compete in a global economy unless we fully fund education. That’s why it was so disappointing to see my opponent borrow money from our schools as a quick fix for balancing the budget. By working together and approaching our budget with a common sense, balanced approach, we can make smart investments in schools to keep producing an educated workforce capable of meeting the demands of today’s economy.
Patch: Why should constituents vote for you in November? What distinguishes you from your opposition?
Halverson: I want my constituents to know that, if elected, I will be a voice for them, not a political party or ideology, in the legislature. The issues that I’m hearing from my community are my top priorities—great schools, good paying jobs and a return to reason at the Capitol—and I will work with all parties to find common sense solutions to issues facing our state and our community. My opponent’s actions over the past two years have shown that he has his own agenda based on political ideology. During the state’s historic government shutdown he said, “The time for compromise is over.” That doesn’t reflect our community’s values. We need to get back to our shared Minnesota values: hard work, compromise and a commitment to getting the job done.
Patch: Anything else you would like to add?
Halverson: I love our community. In Eagan, we focus on our shared priorities and work together to get things done. We can see evidence of those values through our vibrant parks system, excellent schools and growth of new businesses in town. We have a lot to be proud of in Eagan. I’d like to bring that kind of leadership to the St. Paul. It’s time for a different kind of leadership at the Capitol so that we can ensure that our community and our state can thrive today and into the future.
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