Winsted-Lester Prairie Journal, August 31, 1998

Candidate Ventura: 'It's an auction, not an election'


Reform party gubernatorial candidate Jesse Ventura was at the Blue Note in Winsted Wednesday to gain support for his campaign.

Ventura, who spoke without the diplomatic niceties so common in his counterparts, gave an interview to the Journal just before he spoke to the crowd waiting for him inside.

Anger, Ventura said, is what provoked him to run for governor.

"I got angry that (the government) had a $4 billion surplus and and my property taxes continued to rise $460 a year . . . When I was mayor of Brooklyn Park, I learned you can only change government from the inside."

Ventura agreed that the House and Senate may try to stop the things he wants to do.

"Then I'll take it to the public. I'll tell them the truth and they can call their representatives. People didn't want to build a stadium for Carl Pohlad and they said so. The representatives listened because they want to get re-elected," Ventura said.

He added that two-time Reform party state Senate candidate Dean Barkley has done a good job of establishing the party, "But I've always believed that if you're going to kill the dog, cut the head off."

He explained in the legislature those from the Reform party would be just one vote among many. Instead, Ventura believes one route for change is for the Reform party to win the governorship.

"I believe in having a third (political) party and Minnesota can lead the way in establishing that," he said.

"I also have a truly selfish reason for running," Ventura said. "I want to find out if only professional politicians can lead the state. If I lose, that confirms people believe that only professional politicians should be elected."

The Reform party refuses PAC (Political Action Committee) money and wants this practice to stop. PAC money is when several people or entities with the same political agenda pool their funds and make one large donation to a candidate.

Ventura said, quoting John Marty, "Nov. 3 is no longer an election, it's an auction, and we'll never have an honest election until we get the money out of it."

The Reform party limits contributions to $50.

Ventura acknowledged he has limited experience in governing education, which is why he picked teacher Mae Schunk for Lieutenant Governor.

"Mae is a 36-year veteran who has been in the trenches," he said.

Ventura supports public education, "because our state constitution says we will have a kindergarten through 12 education."

Ventura does not support vouchers, open enrollment, or busing.

He expanded on those points by saying that, yes, people should have the choice to attend private school, but should pay for it themselves.

He sees busing students to another school for racial equity as a mistake, as is open enrollment: "Go to school where you live."

Each, Ventura said, takes away from the strength of the neighborhood/rural school.

"Education is a three-prong attack, you need good teachers, students who want to learn, and supportive parents," Ventura said.

He said when parents threaten to take their children out of a school because they don't like something, rather than trying to fix the problem. "That's cutting and running. I would rather fight than cut and run. We owe at least a fight for our kids to go to a neighborhood school."

Busing, he said, is a waste of money. "We want parents involved, but how can they be when they have to drive 40 minutes to get to the school?"

"In the city neighborhoods and in the rural areas, the school is the focus of the community. It brings people together, but that doesn't happen when we're busing them all over hell," he said.

Ventura went on to other issues he wants to tackle and his beliefs.

He supports a 15 percent nationwide sales tax: "It puts more money in your pocket and you can decide how to spend it."

And he backs term limits: "There should be no career politician, you should serve and then go back to what you were doing." He also opposes laws and other rules that favor seated politicians.

"I want it to be illegal for a seated politician to campaign during normal business hours. They have been elected to do a job, and they can't do it while they're out campaigning."

He pointed out opposing candidates can't take the same time from their jobs.

He also noted the Aquatennial parade does not allow opposing candidates to ride in its parade, but seated candidates may.

Ventura said he knows people are apathetic towards politics and understands why.

"Within a married couple, one person is working for the family and one person is working to pay the government and they are just trying to stay afloat, they don't have time to pay attention," he said.

He compared government leaders to a company's chief executive officer. The CEO makes the company grow and grow, while politicians make the government grow and grow . . . The legacy I want to leave is for people to say 'When Jesse was governor, I don't remember government being around.' The government should get the hell out of our lives," Ventura said.

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