Herald Journal - Voters' Guide 2010
Herald Journal / Dassel-Cokato Enterprise Dispatch / Delano Herald Journal

State Representative - Dist. 19B

Two people have filed for state representative senate seats in District 19B; Chris Brazelton and Joe McDonald.

District 19B consists of communities in eastern Wright County and a small portion of western Hennepin County. These include the cities of Albertville, Delano, Hanover, Montrose, Otsego, Rockford, St. Michael, Waverly; and townships Franklin, Rockford, Victor, and Woodland.

Chris Brazelton

My name is Chris Brazelton. My husband Larry and I live in Delano. We have two adult children, Courtney and Nicole, and two grandsons, Justin and Julian. We are foster parents, specializing in working with children with special needs.

I graduated from Archbishop Brady High School in 1977, and Metro State University with high honors and a bachelor of arts degree in social science, which includes sociology, anthropology, and political science.

I believe I am qualified to represent the citizens of Wright County at the legislature because, I am willing to do just that. I am willing to listen to the concerns of the people, and take my experience as a negotiator and mediator to St. Paul, working to craft policy that addresses those concerns.

I believe I am the best candidate for state representative, because I bring balanced, common sense solutions to the challenges facing our communities today.

My experience includes years of work in the private, non-profit, and public sectors, giving me a unique perspective on the various ways in which people contribute to society, and how each serves an important role in maintaining civil society. Good public policy allows each of us the opportunity to reach our fullest potential as God’s plan unfolds for us. Bad public policy creates more obstacles.

I have worked as the sales coordinator for a Minneapolis-based advertising specialty company, a service coordinator for children with developmental disabilities, and I am currently a child support officer with Wright County, helping non-custodial parents support their children to reduce dependence on government programs.

I have been an active volunteer for many years, with a wide variety of experiences. I have served as an advocate for battered women; a counselor for parents of violent, mentally ill teenagers; a trainer in Tanzania for the League of Women Voters; and steering committee chair for Neighborhood Revitalization.

I am currently vice president of the General Federated Women’s Club of Delano, president of the Delano Dream Team, co-chair of the Downtown Task Force, active member of the Delano Artists Guild, and member of Sustainable Farming Association of Minnesota.

I look for answers to challenging problems, trying to find win-win solutions.

For example, I served on a task force to address the rebuilding of a school in Minneapolis. We created a multi-use facility, leveraging the dollars spent to create not only a school, but designed it so that after hours, the space was shared as a park building and community center.

Three “buildings” for the price of one.

It is this kind of innovative thinking that is needed in the legislature. We don’t have money to waste, and have to stretch every dollar to get the most for our hard-earned money.

Why are you running?

I have chosen to run for this office because, just like you, I’m tired of watching our elected representatives waste our tax dollars, while they engage in power-grabbing and posturing for a political party when they should be working together to solve problems. Partisan bickering has taken over, while real issues go unresolved.

Our state budget is a mess, and is getting worse, year after year. We cannot keep procrastinating the hard choices. We have a structural deficit that has grown by about $2 billion per biennium in the last six years. During the Ventura administration, we emptied out the “rainy day” fund, cut taxes, and increased spending, putting Minnesota on a path toward financial disaster. Budget gimmicks are only digging a deeper hole. Sweetheart deals are cut behind closed doors, and we pay the price, not only in precious resources, but also at a loss of confidence in government.

Small businesses are buried in bureaucracy and regulations coming at them from so many different sources that it seems impossible to accomplish anything.

Credit is tight, and those who do have resources are holding onto them with both fists, waiting for the economy to recover enough to start investing again.

What do you think are two major issues and what do you propose to do about them?

I think the most important issues facing the person who is elected to this position are first and foremost, balancing the state budget in such a way as to encourage recovery of our economy.

We must work harder to inspire confidence that our elected representatives can listen to the needs and frustrations of the people we represent, and craft win-win solutions.

What we cannot do is pull the rug out from under proven, cost-effective prevention efforts that are working to meet the needs of the most vulnerable members of our families and communities.

When the mentally ill and physically-challenged do not get the help they need to function in our communities, they end up in much more expensive institutional settings, almost always at taxpayer expense. When health care and day care assistance is not available to families struggling with poverty, more women turn to abortion out of desperation.

Some would argue that nonprofit organizations, charities, if you will, should be the ones to provide these critical services.

I have volunteered and worked for some of these charities. While our non-profits are wonderful, funding is too fickle to rely on community donations alone to do the job.

After 9/11, donors sent their money to New York to help the victims, leaving our local charities without much-needed funding.

Natural disasters tug at our generous hearts, and we respond by sending our available resources to the victims of earthquakes, tsunamis, and hurricanes.

If it were not for the programs supported by the government here at home, we would have many more families living on the streets, begging for food and shelter.

With more of our citizens reaching retirement age and service needs growing, we must have innovation and visionary thinking in order to meet the growing demands. With careful planning, this does not have to be overwhelming.

A small, but powerful, group of extremely wealthy Minnesotans are financing television ads designed to scare everyone into thinking that expecting the wealthiest to pay the same share of their income in taxes as the rest of us would be a job killer.

History has not proven them correct. Some of the highest job growth in our state has come at times that featured higher tax rates on the wealthy. And, during the past several years since the wealthy have enjoyed tax breaks, they are not using those breaks to create jobs.

The economy grows when people spend money, a cycle that circulates from consumer, to business, to employee, and back around again.

The 2009 Minnesota Department of Revenue’s tax incidence study, reflecting all state and local taxes, shows that those with the highest 5 percent of incomes pay less than half the tax rate than those in the bottom 10 percent. No wonder they are running television ads. If we’re too frightened, we might not take the time to look closely at the numbers.

It is written that Jesus Christ once told a wealthy man that a camel had a better chance of getting through the eye of a needle than the wealthy man had to get into the Kingdom of Heaven. Was Jesus trying to punish the wealthy man for his success? I don’t think so.

I believe Jesus’ point was that sometimes the things we do to get and keep wealth mean we have to make a choice between serving ourselves, and serving God. Wealth is not evil. But, perhaps, there is evil in what some people are willing to do to get wealth, and keep it. What, and who, we’re willing to sacrifice to hang onto it.

Jesus reminded us time and time again that we must serve the afflicted, the vulnerable. We have a choice now, today.

Now is not the time to close our doors, shutter our windows, and turn a blind eye to the challenges facing us.

Now is the time to roll up our sleeves, put aside our differences, recognize our common goals, and get to work.

In order to support the afflicted, we do need financial stability.

Therefore, my top three priorities are as follows:

First, we must increase incentives that loosen credit, so that small businesses can expand.

Second, we must restructure corporate taxes, including how taxes are levied against S-corporations, to encourage investment in expansion and hiring.

When we tax companies with inventory based on accounts receivable, not accounts paid, we penalize companies who have high year-end billings before they have realized payments on those sales. If a customer defaults on payments, the business must still pay taxes on the sale, creating an environment that discourages businesses from expanding.

Third, we must look at how we regulate businesses, including farm operations, so that regulations are streamlined and easier to track and follow.

Many small business owners have complained that there are so many regulations coming at them from so many different entities – and sometimes those regulations contradict one another – that the owners of small businesses are overwhelmed trying to keep up.

While reasonable regulations are necessary for the safety of employees and the environment, we must simplify and consolidate the delivery and communication of those regulations. Policing reckless offenders should not turn into treating everyone like potential criminals.

Why should you be elected?

I stand ready to serve and protect the people of this district while upholding the Constitution of the United States and the State of Minnesota. I believe that a government that is truly of the people, by the people, and for the people should not become the problem.

As a follower of Christ, I also believe that we must balance the strategies needed to grow our economy with the strategies needed to care for the poor, the disabled, and the aged.

Anyone who has ever traveled to a developing nation, and seen the heart-wrenching scenes of children begging in the streets, will tell you that you can’t rely on underfunded charities alone.

In their April 2009 letter to the legislature, Archbishop Nienstedt and several other bishops and priests urged the legislature to raise revenue as needed to avoid further cuts to the most vulnerable members of our communities.

We can, we must, and we will do better for Minnesota.

Joe McDonald

Why are you running? / Why should you be elected?

Questions 1 and 3: My parents instilled in me and my six siblings a responsibility for public service in the community.

For the past 20 years, I have been active in the Delano community by serving in many civic groups, such as the Lions Club, Knights of Columbus, Jaycees, and The Fourth of July Committee. I am a past president of Delano Chamber of Commerce, and current mayor of Delano, as well as a volunteer at Delano Schools.

After serving for the city as its mayor and councilman for the last 10 years, I believe I have the experience necessary to serve Wright County as your state representative.

What do you think are two major issues and what do you propose to do about them?

Deficit spending, and jobs.

The first major issue facing Minnesota is the $5.8 billion deficit.

The state can balance the budget by cutting unnecessary spending, lowering taxes on businesses and families, and improving the way the state delivers its services more efficiently and cost-effectively. Families and businesses have had to reduce their spending, and so, too, should the state.

By reducing or freezing state spending, we can balance the budget. If we can lower the tax burden on businesses significantly, they will be able to reinvest in their business and create jobs.

Government has an opportunity to either help or hinder businesses. If they over-regulate and over-tax, we, the people, cannot succeed.

As Ronald Reagan said, “Man is not free unless government is limited.”

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