I've dedicated my life to making the communities of Pennington, Polk and Red Lake Counties a great place to live and work – that is my passion, making communities thrive. I've been a teacher at Fertile-Beltrami, developed senior programs through the Older Americans Act as the regional Area Agency on Aging Director. I created and ran a four city consortium entitled “Polk County Central Cities” for seventeen years, which included Erskine, Fertile, Mentor and Winger. I owned the Fertile Journal newspaper for fourteen years and MASCOM Marketing for thirteen years. I've worked as the Thief River Falls Community and Economic Development Director for fourteen years. I currently own The Thirteen Towns newspaper in Fosston and the Kittson County Enterprise newspaper in Hallock and I serve as the economic development consultant to both Red Lake Falls and Kittson County.

1. Tell us about yourself.

     I was born and raised in Grafton, North Dakota. I've been married to my wife, Myrna for over 41 years and together we have three children – Maxford, Marshall and Meredith. For the past eleven years we've lived at 34643 E. Trinity Pt. Rd. SE, Mentor, MN, prior to that we lived in the Fertile and Winger area for over thirty years.

    I have a Bachelor’s degree in Education from the University of North Dakota - 1974 and a Master's degree from the University of Minnesota's Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs - 2002.

    I've dedicated my life to making the communities of Pennington, Polk and Red Lake Counties a great place to live and work – that is my passion, making communities thrive. I've been a teacher at Fertile-Beltrami, developed senior programs through the Older Americans Act as the regional Area Agency on Aging Director. I created and ran a four city consortium entitled “Polk County Central Cities” for seventeen years, which included Erskine, Fertile, Mentor and Winger. I owned the Fertile Journal newspaper for fourteen years and MASCOM Marketing for thirteen years. I've worked as the Thief River Falls Community and Economic Development Director for fourteen years. I currently own The Thirteen Towns newspaper in Fosston and the Kittson County Enterprise newspaper in Hallock and I serve as the economic development consultant to both Red Lake Falls and Kittson County.

    I served on Crookston's RiverView Hospital's Board of Directors, and its Foundation for the maximum nine year term. I created “Computers for Our Community” in the Thief River Falls area and brought expanded broadband development to the District. I Co-founded the Agassiz Environmental Learning Center in Fertile and served as the founding Chairperson. Plus I have served as Secretary/Manager of the Polk County Fair for the past thirty years.

    I've recruited new business, helped retain existing businesses and I've been a successful business owner for over 30 years - I know how to get things done!   

2. Why are you running for District 1B Minnesota House of Representatives?

    First of all I was asked to run for the position. However, prior to saying yes I thought about what the position means to the residents of Polk, Red Lake and most of Pennington county. I realized that over the past six years, very little has been done by the current office holder. In my professional positions as Community and Economic Development Director for the City of Thief River Falls and as a consultant for the City of Red Lake Falls, businesses had asked for assistance and nothing happened. There was no assistance - nothing. There has been very limited information presented to the public on the issues at the State level and, more importantly, to ask you, as a constituent, what are the issues that you face as a resident of District 1-B. No local initiative.

3. What do you think about the state of Minnesota’s economy at the moment?  Are there things you would change if you could?

    Currently the State's economy is ranked differently from what Forbes reports versus what the State's Chamber of Commerce reports. Unemployment is low 4.0% (seasonally adjusted), the statewide income is listed at over $50,000.00 The state is known for its educated, dedicated and innovative workforce. Add to that the overall quality of life, healthcare, recreation, education system and the cultural aspects of life.

    However, there is a negative and that is taxes, both property and income. There was consensus for a reduction in property taxes but because of errors in the legislation it did not get funded. But the fact of the matter is that you can't have the amenities without paying for them. If you want good schools and roads someone has to pay for them, if you want a great state park system and bike/hiking paths they require funding, which means taxes.

    Specifically in Northwestern Minnesota the economy is strong – there are jobs, there are careers and opportunity. Commodity prices are somewhat lower when compared to a few years ago but farmers understand there are cycles. I think one of the most important roles that a Representative from our District can do is be pro-active for our local business community. Today the emphasis needs to focus on developing qualified employees, through training, education and better understanding the needs of the employers.

4. What are your thoughts on the news of Minnesota health insurers proposing big premium hikes for individual plans in 2017?

    Health Insurance: We critically need health insurance reform. This is an issue that cannot be ignored because our residents so desperately need to be able to afford quality health insurance. This topic is the result of Blue Cross/Blue Shield and others deciding not to honor individual health insurance policies any longer. Their argument is that they cannot continue to lose money. The reason it's happening is that health costs have escalated to the point where only those who are the sickest have policies. The only idea thus far is the Republican plan to eliminate MNSure, which will negatively affect the poorest citizens of the state by reducing their health insurance to nothing. It doesn't stop those residents from visiting emergency wards and accessing even higher medical costs.

    The culprit in all of this seems to be the continuing increase in health care. Reducing the cost is a difficult task, given the cost of the education and training that healthcare professionals go through. Then add in the cost of new equipment and procedures. There is no measure of sensibility.

    This is an issue that is going to require both sides of the aisle coming together to form a solution. Recently the Governor called for a “Special Session” to address the issue. Currently solutions range from increasing the income limits on Minnesota Care to spreading the high risk costs over a larger pool to reduce the overall premiums, or provide a tax credit to those with the highest increases.

5. 3,300 kids in 74 Minnesota school districts will attend free pre-kindergarten programs this year, but the other 60 percent of the 183 districts and charter schools that applied for funding did not receive state aid. What are your thoughts on preschool and pre-kindergarten education? Do you agree with Governor Dayton in saying that all children should have the option for free preschool?

    Education: I am endorsed by Education Minnesota and, as a former teacher, I understand the importance of supporting our public schools, students and parents.  

    Deb Kiel voted for funding an education bill that did not include any funding for a strong Pre-K plan for 4 year olds. For the record, Kiel voted for bills that hurt eduction: She voted for the largest cut ever to higher eduction in State history (2011) – cuts that hurt both Northland Community and Technical College and the University of Minnesota, Crookston.

    Education is the foundation of our nation and our state. Years ago the State of Minnesota made a commitment to make sure all children receive an equal - quality education. It is one of the few  mandates in the State's Constitution. As a result I support Free Preschool Education. That commitment is a major reason I am running for the Minnesota House of Representatives – it's our future!

6. How would you handle the statewide day care shortage and what would you recommend for Greater Minnesota to help combat the issue?

    My son and his wife are paying over $700 per week in the Twin Cities for two children in daycare; one is a baby and the other a toddler which require a higher level of care – that equals to over $36,000.00 per year. My daughter and her husband are expecting in late January and they are experiencing the necessity of interviewing with daycare provides now in order to ensure a spot.

    Daycare is hard work, it requires special facilities, food, training and reporting. Are those regulations needed, it appears they are given the number of incidents that have taken place over the years. If the State responds by offering assistance those funds would have to come from somewhere, by restricting the fees charged the providers would loss money and shut down.

    The only solution I see is to provide a means to construct or renovate facilities on a one time basis therefore creating more spaces for providers to provide the care that is necessary. Included would be to provide training at no cost which may entice more individuals to enter the field.   

7. What do you do in your free time? Have any hobbies?

    Currently my free time is devoted to the campaign. However, when I have free-time, I enjoy boating, traveling and most importantly being with my family and my two grandchildren. I don't have many hobbies except working with my newspapers and doing economic development projects for my clients.