By Lynda Jensen
COKATO, MN Republicans from three counties will converge at the Dassel-Cokato PAC in Cokato 9 a.m. Saturday, March 13 to endorse an official candidate for the state senate race in District 18.
There is currently a four-way race for the Republican ticket in District 18, including Tim Benoit of Dassel, Dean Mahlstedt of Cokato, Randy Wilson of Glencoe and Scott Newman of Hutchinson. The seat is being vacated by Steve Dille (R-Dassel).
The public is invited to observe the process, Jim Bobier said. Bobier is the chairman for the Senate District 18 Republicans.
“This is an exciting time as we have four candidates vying for this office and at a time our state is seeking real solutions to the problems of Minnesota,” Bobier said.
“Many of the active members of our McLeod, Meeker and Wright County Republican parties are demanding a return to more responsible government,” he added. “This includes not spending more than you have, respecting the individual rights of our citizens, and acknowledging that all levels of government must have a limit.”
Registration opens at 8:30 a.m. and ends at 9 a.m. A $10 registration fee will be collected from all attendees, including delegates, alternates and adult guests.
A noon lunch will be offered during the time of registration, for an additional fee.
The following agenda has been set:
• To approve District 18 constitution and bylaws
• To elect senate District 18 chair for the 2010 to 2012 term
• To endorse candidates for state senator for District 18 and representative for House District 18A and 18B
• To conduct other business as may properly come before the convention.
District 18 includes all of Meeker and McLeod counties, plus the following area in Wright County: the cities of Howard Lake, Cokato, and Annandale; and townships of French Lake, Middleville, South Haven, Southside, and Stockholm.
More about the candidates
Aside from the recent forum, there is additional information posted online about the candidates.
Ten questions are posted online by conservative Dassel accountant Ford Peterson, who said he left the recent forum in Dassel with unanswered questions. For a link to his questions, click here.
He decided to ask the candidates directly about subjects such as their stance on corporate income tax, business subsidies, prevailing wages, and the size of government, in general.
An example of Peterson’s questions include the following:
Question: “There are currently about 36,000 state workers. The Minnesota public pension plans have over 294,000 active members. This past year, the state added another 450 workers.
The average Full-Time-Equivalent (FTE) payroll for the state’s 33,514 workers in 1999 was $50,083. By 2009 the average FTE payroll was $72,668, an increase of over 45 percent.
Peterson asks, “Are you prepared to support methods of reducing the overhead at the state level by eliminating services and the jobs related to these services? An effective cost-cutting approach entails the elimination of tens of thousands of state jobs. Are you prepared to lead that charge in an environment where the media and liberals, in general, are calling for the state to greatly expand its payroll?”
The answers for this particular question include the following:
Tim Benoit: Again, I say yes. The State of Minnesota is the largest employer in the state and now, getting bigger.
There is nothing constitutional about the increase in the number of jobs and if anything, I am for the state to begin the task of cutting jobs, the size of some of the departments, and the state should be inviting many more private sector companies to become vendors in providing products and services to the state.
The state should not be competing with the private sector in building roads, providing health care and a long list of other specific areas where a state vendor could do the work for much less than a state employee paying union dues.
Again, we are at the point where we have to make these types of decisions and cut the spending across the board.
We must somehow get the unionization of state workers to be illegal. There is no reason for government employees to unionize.
This has rendered the government almost ineffective in providing service to the taxpayers and the people government claims they want to help.
Scott Newman: Without equivocation, yes, and this question really gets to the heart of our spending problem.
Minnesota is the number one employer in this state, involving thousands of government employees working for various agencies.
As an attorney, I have been involved in many cases of the government versus individuals and private businesses. I have been witness to the adverse effect of rules and regulation on our citizens and their ability to succeed in business.
First, we cut off the revenue because no bureaucracy can survive without taxpayer funding. I believe, with the current budget problems, we have the best opportunity in a generation to do just that.
Second, we systematically begin a program to repeal the thousands of pages of rules state agencies and departments thrive under.
In total dollars, we spend more on welfare than we do on educating our kids. Built into that welfare budget are the salaries for the thousands social service employees throughout the state. Rhetorical question: Who’s on welfare?
Dean Mahlstedt: YES, definitely YES.
Randy Wilson: As the mayor of Glencoe, we have reduced staff to meet our declining revenues. We have also looked at ways to share services and equipment with other communities and the county.
It is in our best interest to find reductions and economy in the services the state provides. I would be diligent in this pursuit.