Make an informed decision
This election guide focuses on candidates for state and local offices who would serve our readers in the Mille Lacs area.
For your conveniece, this page gives basic information on the two amendments on the ballot, candidates for judge, and candidates for federal office.
The guide begins with candidates for state legislature (senate and house) in districts 15A, 10B and 9B — the three districts in the Messenger’s coverage area.
From there, the guide moves on to races for county commissioner in Mille Lacs County. Candidates for Crow Wing County Commissioner did not respond to our request for information. In Aitkin County, candidate Laurie Westerlund is running unopposed.
Finally, the guide covers candidates for the cities we cover — Isle, Onamia, Wahkon and Garrison — and the two school boards — Isle and Onamia.
Candidates were asked to provide 50 to 100 words about their background and qualifications and up 200 to 250 words on their top priorities if elected. Some candidates chose to write less, and some chose not to respond.
The Messenger does not endorse any of the candidates listed; however, we wholeheartedly support the democratic process and want our readers to make informed choices for candidates who will represent their values, opinions and hopes.
That’s what our country and this election guide are all about.
State Senate District 15
I have served in the state Senate for two years and have worked in the private sector my entire career. I understand the challenges small business face in Minnesota.
Our biggest challenge in Minnesota is to create an environment for job growth. Minnesota has opportunities similar to what North Dakota has with our natural resources.
Expediting the permitting of our copper and nickel mines where these mines start producing will create thousands of jobs in Minnesota, strengthening our economy statewide. There are strict environmental standards for the operation of mines in Minnesota and these standards can be met.
The U.S. imports 100 percent of nickel used in our manufacturing, from countries like Russia that are major polluters. It makes sense to mine Minnesota’s nickel in an environmentally sound manner and create the jobs here in our own state. Utilizing our natural resources on state-owned land will put millions of dollars into our school trust and our state treasury. This money can be used to enhance our public schools and to reduce our property taxes statewide.
I will always support the rights of our unborn babies to have the chance for life. I support our right to keep and bear arms.
State Senate District 15
As a working mother of three, I have seen first hand how legislative inaction has hurt Minnesota families. Instead of focusing on jobs like a laser, hardliners chose to take drastic measures against our freedoms and individual liberties. I know that everyday Minnesotans are tired of the hyper-partisan tit-for-tat. We deserve legislators who are willing to work across party lines with compromise for common sense solutions. Bickering does not solve problems and I will work with people of all parties to get the job done on time, and on budget.
Our children can’t wait for the fixes of tomorrow. Our seniors need help today, and our workers needed good paying jobs yesterday.
We have a constitutional obligation as a state to provide an education to our children that is equal across all communities, regardless of socioeconomic status. Unfortunately, due to funding shifts and local tax disparities, schools lack the funds to adequately teach. We must invest in education for a 21st century workforce to compete in a global economy.
We deserve accountability and integrity in our healthcare system. We should know what we are paying for, getting what we paid for, and paying a fair price for those services. This will require oversight, so insurance companies aren’t allowed to pad their pockets with taxpayers’ money. Also, we need to refocus our medical system on preventative medicine. When people are healthy, they will miss work and school less. Additionally, healthcare costs will decrease.
In rural Minnesota, small businesses are the true job creators. Unfortunately, it is disproportionately hard for low and middle-income individuals to start and sustain a small business. Businesses need an educated work force so they can fill the jobs they already have available. They need fairer license fees and taxes. Additionally, they need streamlined permitting that is easier to understand. By strengthening the small business sector, we will get people back to work.
I encourage everyone to visit my website, www.sallyforsenate.org.
State House District 15A
My qualifications to serve District 15A in the Minnesota House of Representatives are as follows: resident of district almost 50 years; knowledge of the issues facing east central Minnesota (one of few legislators who understands Lake Mille Lacs); member of American Legion Auxiliary and other service and faith-based organizations and boards; leadership skills — chair of Education Policy/Reform and Ethics; and good working relationship with Democrats and Republicans to enact excellent education reform and, finally, the ability to negotiate with Gov. Mark Dayton.
I am a legislator who listens, responds and takes action. In 2011-12 I was honored as a “Super Hero” by the School Boards Association for reducing K-12 education mandates; named a “Guardian of Small Business” by National Federation of Independent Business PAC for promoting job creation and economic development to help business and families; endorsed by Farm Bureau PAC for repealing excessive regulations that burden farmers; honored by Taxpayers League for keeping taxes low; and recognized for working with the DNR to manage Lake Mille Lacs as a state resource.
My priorities for 2013-2014 are to continue to reform government, find ways to limit the power of government, find ways to reduce property taxes by increasing local tax bases, promote individual responsibility as much as possible in all legislation, make the free market work by reducing subsidies, and require more reform to bring about excellent results in education.
Specifically I will work hard to ensure that the state government does not spend more than it collects in taxes to prevent deficit spending (tax increases are code for more spending). State revenue has grown by 45 percent in the past 10 years, a 4.5 percent increase each year but spending has grown exponentially, causing deficits in the billions. That must stop.
In K-12 education, I have three goals in addition to fair funding and returning more control to local school boards and teaching staff: enact education policies that increase learning and raise achievement, improve teaching and school leadership, and empower parents.
I believe in the sanctity of life, marriage and family.
State House District 15A
We can do better. I am a husband and father, so I know the importance of family and personal responsibility. My dad worked two jobs, as a maintenance man and farmer, so I know the value of hard work. My mother was a director of religious education for a Catholic church in rural Minnesota, so I know that Christian values must guide our decision making.
As an attorney, my job is to know the law and solve other people’s problems. I’m ready to go to St. Paul and stand up for us to improve life for you and your family.
In 2010, we elected representatives to create jobs and balance the budget. Rep. Erickson has not done her job. She voted to shut down the government. She voted to borrow billions from schools and future payments. We face a similar deficit next session.
We must bring tax relief back to the middle class, like bringing back the Homestead Property Tax Credit. Right now, people with personal income over $330,000 pay 2 percent less than nearly every other Minnesotan. This is morally wrong. Middle-class tax relief will create more customers. More customers in our local communities will help businesses create local jobs.
I will work to equalize per pupil school funding. It costs us twice as much to pass a school levy as it does for many districts in the Twin Cities. Our kids cannot keep competing for the same jobs and colleges with thousands of dollars less per pupil. In districts that have already passed a levy, this will provide much-needed property tax relief.
I am pro-life, and that means holding all life as sacred, including the lives of working families who are struggling to survive. We must strive to have compassion while also protecting against those who would take advantage of us.
We must find a fair resolution to the netting on Lake Mille Lacs during spawning season. We all agree that our actions today impact seven generations, and it is important for Lake Mille Lacs to be healthy and vibrant.
We can do better. Find out more at WalshforMN.com.
State Senate District 10
I was born and raised in Brainerd, by a teacher and a nurse who taught me the value of hard work and education. I am a teacher and a coach here, and live the challenges of our area firsthand. Cuts in school funding, a regressive tax structure, and a lack of jobs have hurt myself, my friends, and my family. I serve on the boards of multiple nonprofits including Bridges of Hope and the Gordon Rosenmeier Center for State and Local Government, and am a member of Minnesota Farmers Union and the NRA.
I am running for state Senate because our current system is broken. Partisan politics have shut down our government twice in the last five years, have caused $2.4 billion to be stolen from our schools, and the Homestead Property Tax Credit to be stripped from our already overburdened residents. This money needs to be restored immediately.
Each session our state Legislature has a deficit crisis because the people within it are unwilling to compromise. I’m running to bring common sense and accountability back to state government. I also plan to work with small business and job creators to bring prosperity back to this area.
We have many people out of work willing and able to do great things, and with the right combination of energy and education, we can put our neighbors back to work.
I’m running for my grandmother, who can barely afford her property taxes on her fixed income, and for the legacy of my grandfather who worked himself to the bone on a farm to provide a better life for his wife and children. I’m running for my father, a teacher who watched our schools face crippling monetary shortages that could have resulted in a loss of teachers, an increase in classroom sizes and a loss of programs, but most importantly, I am running for the children I teach every day as a substitute. I’m running to make sure that the opportunities that I had growing up here in the greatest part of the state are still left for them.
State Senate District 10
My experience, work ethic, common sense and leadership abilities make me the most qualified candidate. I am a small business owner, residential property taxpayer, commercial property taxpayer, work full time and my name has been on both sides of the paycheck. I was the President of the Greater Lakes Association of Realtors and Women’s Realtor of the Year for the State of Minnesota. I am the former Mayor of Breezy Point and former State Senator District 4.
Greater Minnesota’s jobless rate is too high. We need to take the stumbling blocks out of the way of our business community to attract new businesses and help our existing businesses grow and prosper.
Minnesota ranks 45th among the 50 states regarding its business tax climate. There are only five other states where it is worse to start a business. Minnesota taxes are out of proportion with even its neighbors. We have the sixth highest corporate income tax, one of the highest death tax rates and the seventh highest tax burden overall. Is it a wonder our towns all have empty store fronts and our children migrate to the cities for lack of jobs.
We need to repeal the statewide business tax – 30 percent of our local business property tax goes to the state! Our cities need to look at the fees that they charge businesses when they locate here or try to expand — have they put out the welcome mat or are they slamming the door?
Almost 15 percent of District 10’s population is veterans. Minnesota is ranked among the worst states for military veterans to start or operate a business or retire. Our veterans are great assets to our communities with high tech skills and leadership. Military retirement pay subtraction can be used as a great economic tool.
Tourism accounts for 10 percent of all jobs in our state with over $4 billion in payroll. Between the two counties we have 820 lakes and well over 100 miles of the Mighty Mississippi. We need to make sure the state of Minnesota understands how vital this is to our economy.
State House District 10B
I am 62 years old. Linda and I have been married for 43 years. We have two children and four grandchildren. I graduated from Aitkin High School and hold a bachelor of science and a business administration degree. I am a 28-year Navy veteran.
Since returning to home, I have served as an Aitkin County Commissioner (two terms), on my church council and on many local boards and commissions. I currently serve as president of the Aitkin-Carlton County Farm Bureau.
Restoring jobs and economic growth is the most pressing issue we face today. We need more business and building activity here in rural Minnesota so our children don’t have to leave the area for good paying jobs.
I will focus on improving rural Minnesota’s business climate by reforming our tax and regulatory environment.
Minnesota ranks as having the 45th worst business climate in the nation. We must change to a more business friendly approach to attract and hold quality businesses here in rural Minnesota. We need a strong leader in St. Paul that will stick up for rural Minnesota and is not hostage to outside special interest groups and big labor unions. My only special interest is the citizens of District 10B.
Another issue that is important to me is the way St. Paul treats our rural school districts. I do not support withholding state school funding as a gimmick to balance the state budget. Both DFL and GOP dominated Legislatures and governors have done that. I also disagree with the practice of providing more dollars per student to metro schools (about $14,000 per student in Minneapolis schools) and about $8,681 per student for the Aitkin School District. The Isle, McGregor, Hill City, Crosby-Ironton and even the larger Brainerd School District have been short changed as well.
Our children and grandchildren deserve the same funding support as the children in the metro area. The state should treat all school districts equally and give the local school board and school superintendent the flexibility to meet the needs of our children and grandchildren. Thank you.
State House District 10B
I’m a fourth-generation Cuyuna Iron Ranger, and after spending a few years in the Cities, I came back to buy a house in Crosby. Every year, we send the same type of representatives to St. Paul, and we get the same results back. I believe it’s time for some new blood at the Capitol; we need legislators that are more interested in the future of their community than in partisan gridlock. I don’t have the answer for every problem, but I’m ready to listen to the people of this area and work together with my colleagues to rebuild our future.
The reason I’m in this race is because I grew up here — my parents and their parents grew up here — so when schools are cutting budgets it affects my nieces, nephews, and the kids that I’ll be raising here. When unemployment is higher than the rest of the state, it affects blue-collar workers like my cousins, my brother, and people close to retirement in this area, like my parents. Finally, when property taxes rise dramatically, it affects my grandparents and my neighbors living on fixed incomes — including those who are currently out of work or under-employed.
As I mentioned above, I don’t have the answer for every problem — and frankly, I think electing politicians who believe they have the answer for every problem is part of why we’re in this mess. If elected, I will go to St. Paul with the advice and concerns of my constituents; I will work hard, and I will be responsive to the needs of those in my district. It’s been said that my generation will be one of the first that will not do as well as our parents — it’s up to all of us to do what we can to ensure that my generation is able to provide for themselves and keep our obligations to those who came before us and paved the way.
More information available at www.JoeRadinovich.com.
State Senate District 9
I presently serve as state Senator representing Morrison and Crow Wing counties. With redistricting, if reelected, I will serve Morrison, Todd, Wadena, and southwest Cass counties. I serve as assistant majority leader in the Senate, and vice-chair of the Commerce Committee. In addition, I serve on the Veterans, State Government, Environment, and Transportation committees. I am a citizen legislator and have a small business in the Brainerd Lakes area. I have employed three to seven employees for my entire business career.
There are many important issues for our state. Certainly helping the private sector grow jobs in our state and region is at the top. Minnesota ranks 45th out of 50 for being a business-friendly state. We must improve if we expect to attract the good paying jobs we all want in our area. My business background helps me understand the unique needs of our job providers.
Also important is the massive spending and debt issues of our state and federal governments. I will continue to work towards reducing government spending instead of simply continuing to raise taxes.
Republicans took control of the Minnesota House and Senate for the first time in 38 years. We were left with a $6 billion budget deficit. In just over a year, we turned the shortfall into a billion dollar surplus, without raising taxes. Reining in runaway government spending will ensure economic security for our families. Our government must learn to live within the taxes and fees we already pay them.
I am also a social conservative, standing for pro-life, marriage, 2nd amendment rights, and photo ID for voting. I am endorsed by MCCL, NRA, NFIB (small business advocates), Minnesota Chamber of Commerce and Minnesota Farm Bureau. My opponent is not endorsed by any of these organizations.
State Senate District 9
• Grew up on our family farm near Campbell, Minnesota.
• Graduated from U of M, degrees in political science, history, and social studies.
• Graduate work at the U of Manitoba.
• Taught and coached wrestling at Pierz High School.
• Senior advocate for Horizon Health.
• State representative, 2007-2010.
• Currently on Royalton City Council, Pine Grove Zoo Board and Camp Ripley Citizens Advisory Council.
• Lives in Royalton with wife, Donna.
I believe this economy will recover only when the middle class has money to spend, not when giant corporations get more tax breaks.
This past Republican Legislature, including my opponent, sided with giant corporations. He hurt rural Minnesota badly by voting to remove the homestead credit, borrow money from our schools to “balance” the budget, and an unwillingness to work together.
I believe in rural Minnesota, our way of life, our farms, and our small businesses. I believe we can get fair funding for our rural schools, rural hospitals, rural nursing homes and assisted living facilities. I’m running to represent the middle class instead of big money.
Politics in this country and this area is influenced far too much by big money instead of the needs of the people. I was defeated last election by a huge amount of spending from big outside interests who obviously didn’t share my middle class values. They also didn’t share my value of telling the truth in many of the negative mailers they sent out, and they’re doing it again this election.
My opponent moved into this district in June, just so he could run in this district. I’ve lived in this district over 40 years. I worked here and belonged to many good organizations here. The farming pictures on my campaign literature are real; I’m helping my brother-in-law fill the silos. I understand this district because I’m from here.
My opponent voted against raising taxes on the wealthiest, and against rural property taxpayers, and against a $19.5 million job-creating project at Camp Ripley. Our area and our middle class deserve better representation. If elected, I’ll do that.
Learn more at www.aldoty.com, or at facebook/com/aldotyforsenate.
State House District 9B
I am married 19 years to Wendy and we have five children. My family has been the inspiration and foundation for everything I have accomplished and have become. I am an educator of 10 years, and have founded or co-founded two businesses. The first business is an online education company that is an international company. The second business is an online marketing company that specializes in rural economic development.
It is a combination of my 10 years of teaching, 10 years of business leadership, and a strong foundation of farming and hard work from my youth that make me an excellent candidate for this position. I understand the agriculture issues, economic issues, and social issues of our area (religious and family), and I will represent our rural way of life.
I have realized the power of bringing innovation and entrepreneurship into rural areas of our state. However, I don’t believe the legislators in St. Paul focus enough on helping rural Minnesota grow. It is my goal to fight for more opportunity and economic growth in District 9B.
If I am elected my priority will be to bring people and jobs into this area. I believe too many people are traveling outside of our district for employment and there is not enough opportunity for our residents in 9B. As a result, people are spending more time commuting and less time with their kids and in their community volunteering. Also, because our population is not growing, we have a large inventory of houses and our tax base is decreasing; therefore, the local and county property tax levies are being shouldered by fewer and fewer people. If we don’t attract some residents and employers, the quality of life we cherish here will become less and less affordable by the residents. Right now the people who travel to this area for recreation and tourism (Mille Lacs fishing, snowmobiling, ATV, and hunting), get all of our quality of life benefits, but we are left paying the bill. While the tourism is a nice driver, real jobs and innovation is a more sustainable economic driver for our area.
State House District 9B
I grew up on a small family farm near the city of Lastrup, which taught me the meaning of rural Minnesota values. I currently live in the city of Pierz where I am in my fourth year serving as an elected council member. I interned for the city of Little Falls and currently serve as the city clerk/treasurer for the city of Upsala. I have a B.A degree from St. Cloud State University in public administration. I also used to serve as the guest service manager at the Little Falls Perkins.
I am running because serving in local government I have seen first hand how the Legislature has kicked the can down the road to local government and rural Minnesota.
I have had to balance city budgets both in the city of Upsala and the city of Pierz and understand the effects of the Market Value Homestead Credit on rural Minnesotans.
I have always said that I would run for the Legislature in the future but decided now is the time. Out here in rural Minnesota we cannot afford another two years of what we currently have in the Legislature. We need to elect someone who understands our rural values and understands that continually pushing the property tax burden to rural Minnesota affects small business, seniors and the already struggling middle class.
I believe it is time we elect someone who will fight for rural Minnesotans and restore the market value homestead credit to keep rural Minnesota’s property taxes affordable and help small businesses survive.
The only special interest groups I want to listen to and represent are the 39,000 people who live in my district. I want to be your voice and also be the person you feel comfortable to talk to. I will be an independent voice that votes for the beliefs of my district and not party lines. I believe that I am the best candidate to serve this district because of the roots I have throughout the district.
Please check out my facebook page at www.facebook. com/WelleForMinnesota and contact me with any questions.
Mille Lacs County District 4
In the past 10 years I have served four years on the Bogus Brook Township Board and six years as a county commissioner serving District 4.
During the last six years we have all seen a lot of changes like foreclosures at a high number, job losses and a lot of other things like local government aid, most recently the state taking away our homestead tax credit. Forrest Gump said it all when he said, “Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re going to get.”
As your county commissioner, I will work real hard to keep a high level of service to all residents and keep costs as low as possible like the last four years with a 0 percent levy increase.
Redistricting was my reason to run this time, my second term shouldn’t have been up for two more years.
Main issues would be to provide a good level of service in all departments. This is always a struggle because of funding and grants being cut. I would continue to look for new funding and/or grants, work with local groups like churches and other sources so that together we can take care of the challenges before us.
Mille Lacs County District 4
My Name is Greg McQuay and I am running for county commissioner of District 4. I was raised on my parent’s farm near Foreston, attended Milaca Senior High, served a combat tour in the Persian Gulf with the First Cavalry Division, attended St. Cloud State and after 13 years of construction trades I now work in a level two trauma center as a registered nurse. I now reside near Onamia with my wife Shellie, daughter Samantha and a new little one to arrive in March.
The decision to run for commissioner started for me when I started to pay more attention to local government and became aware of the waste associated with nepotism and “this is how WE do it” attitudes. One of the concerns I am focusing on is that despite the fact that our county has one of the highest unemployment in the state, our taxes continue to go up as our house values go down.
I take critical view of a board that has delegated duties and accountability to a county coordinator changing title to county administrator with a salary increased from the $50s to now $105,498 plus benefits. This authority and responsibility delegated away and yet the commissioners continue to earn $549.33 an hour. I feel that if they wish to wash their hands of duties there should be a cut in pay.
There are other bad business decisions being made at the county level;
• 1.3 million tax dollars on the Soo Line Bridge.
• Over $9 million on an unneeded court house during a recession.
• $3.5 million on a Dunn Bridge in Princeton.
• Multimillion dollar pay outs associated with the sheriff’s department and lawsuits.
There also is change needed at the courthouse concerning zoning and permits. I find it abusive that a resident of this county can be forced to spend tens of thousands of dollars changing a mound system before they can build a deck on their home. My agenda in short is to nudge this local government back to serving the residents with true accountability.
Mille Lacs County District 5
My name is Bill Hill and I have been an area resident for more than 40 years. I have been married for 33 years and have three children and two grandchildren.
I have been active in the community and for the past 10 years serving on the Onamia City Council. During three of those years I was the vice mayor standing into that role when the community needed a leader. I have also been active and engaged with the planning commission.
I love this area, so much, that for 31 years I was a firefighter, now retired, and am currently an EMT with the Mille Lacs Ambulance for the past 34 years. I was an independent retailer for 23 years which I believe gives me experience in engaging with a numerous amount of personality styles and types.
During my time on the city council I learned how to recognize the difference between wasteful spending and useful and purposeful spending. I used my knowledge to make sense of this for both the short- term and long-term perspectives.
With my entrepreneurial and city council experience I have been able to foster many personal and professional relationships that will lend great strength and prove to be beneficial to the county board and in turn to the general public.
I would like to revisit the county’s zoning direction as I believe it needs some modification. Responsible economic development is something I will be very involved with and pride myself on in regards to what I will bring to the table.
I played an integral role in facilitating the Mille Lacs Academy’s relocation project while keeping the facility in Onamia as well as the jobs that this business provided the community. I will always do what is best for my constituents. This $17 million project was the single largest development in the city’s history.
I understand and have experience working on a board and I believe that working with the other commissioners will bring great things for the county.
I am experienced, qualified and ready for this position. (320) 532.3672. billhilljr0104 @gmail.com.
Mille Lacs County District 5
I am Dave Oslin from Isle. I am a longtime resident of Mille Lacs County, and have been in the sewer, water, and construction industry for 30 years.
I’ve been married to my wife Judy for 27 years; have two stepchildren and nine grandchildren. I have owned and successfully operated an excavation company. I have served as public works superintendent and emergency management director in Isle. I currently serve on the Mille Lacs County steering committee, to help put together a new comprehensive plan that will serve to guide the county in decision making into the future.
My reasons for running and main issues of concern:
I am running for county commissioner because I care about my community and Mille Lacs County. I truly believe in a representative form of government, where people are represented well in the county decision making process. I have great respect for this opportunity to serve county residents and give back to my community.
I believe my experience as owning and operating a successful business, serving as public works superintendent for Isle, being involved with many community organizations, helping set budgets and operate within them, has helped me prepare for this opportunity to serve the public. Over the years I have worked for the government and with the government and have dealt with county personnel in land use, law enforcement, and public works departments.
I believe there is room for improvement in regulation, taxation, and economic development areas. I will work to keep taxes from rising.
I believe in common sense government that is limited, efficient, and affordable.
I believe with input from residents, at a cost we can afford, together we can build our county, and make it a better place to live and do business.
Your vote would be much appreciated. I will do my best for you.
Aitkin County District 2
50 years old, present first term county commissioner, farmer’s wife, married 16 years to Norman Westerlund, four children, two daughters-in-law, three grandchildren, previous business owner-operater of Cenex in Malmo/Sunrise Cafe.
Our county’s most pressing issues in my opinion are economic development, many wetland issues, state mandates, extreme costs of keeping our roads maintained, and trying to keep taxes in line with our constituents’ needs and to provide the most cost saving services.
The county as a whole has been in good shape dollar wise, but as our investments dwindle due to costs of the above named issues and interest on bonds are just not getting good returns. We as a county board have been working through attrition and not hiring new positions when employees retire and will continue this process. It’s important to keep knowledgeable staff in the county. It truly amazes me what they deal with on a day-to-day basis.
I’m sorry to say that there isn’t one issue or decision that isn’t as important as another. Some issues are more important to the ones they affect personally, so we as an elected county board, try to see all the sides and make decisions and rely on staff to steer us in the best way they can.
I have been involved with the public heath department in the past year. We really need to look at all the positive and great outcomes they have achieved over the years. Funding is always an issue! I’m hoping to dig in and learn more in this area of public health. This is one area that our state and federal government need to step up and realize how valuable these programs are to our newest babies, teenagers and our senior population.
The computer age is here! Hopefully our fine colleges don’t forget to help with funding when they change all the connections to cyber space.
Thank you for giving me the honor of serving Aitkin County.
See part two for the rest of the Election Guide.