Wright County voters will decide between two candidates to represent the Republican Party in the race for the Minnesota House of Representatives, District 30B, which includes the communities of St. Michael and Albertville and portions of Hanover, Otsego and Dayton.
Candidates are St. Michael City Council member Kevin Kasel, and Dayton City Council member Eric Lucero, who was endorsed at the party’s Wright County convention earlier this year. Kasel entered the race after the endorsing convention.
Voters in the primary can vote for either party, but must cast a so-called party ballot, where each vote is cast for the same party throughout the Aug. 12 ballot. In the general election in November, registered voters can vote for either party. Failure to follow these guidelines results in a voided ballot.
In Minnesota, voters do not have to register with a select party, so can vote for either party in the primary election. Absentee and “early voting” periods are already opened throughout the state.
The Minnesota House of Representatives is a two-year term. The Minnesota Constitution provides that legislators’ compensation is set by law. The annual salary for representatives and senators is $31,140 annually.
Name: Kevin Kasel
Residence: 4535 Melina Ave. NE, St. Michael MN 55376
Family: Married to Linda over 27 years, daughter Kayla, son Aaron
Years in What is Now District 30 community: 12+ (all in St. Michael)
Offices Held: St Michael City Council since 2007
Endorsements (please limit to 5):
Rep. Marion O’Neill (R-29B) (Republican representing district 29B which includes Buffalo, Monticello, Maple Lake)
Rep. Nick Zerwas (R-30A) (Republican representing district 30A which includes Elk River, Big Lake, Big Lake Twp)
Jerry Zachman – Mayor of St. Michael
Jillian Hendrickson – Mayor of Albertville
Doug Birk – Chair, St. Michael – Albertville School Board
What has inspired you to run for State House?
I am running because we need a candidate with the experience and leadership qualities necessary to represent us on the issues most important in our daily lives: equity funding for our schools, transportation, and stemming the tide of an increasingly expensive and complex state government.
As a member of the St. Michael City Council, I have listened to residents and business owners while working with the mayor, fellow council members, and staff to prioritize needs over wants and bring a clear, realistic set of short and long-term expectations to the budget. As a result, the city enjoys the lowest tax rate in Wright County and high levels of resident and employee satisfaction.
The two of you see eye-to-eye on many of the issues. What separates you from your opponent?
Experience, and the ability to lead on the issues most important to our residents.
On the issue of Equity Funding for schools the difference is very clear. I have been a STMA Finance Advisory committee member for over 10 years, understand the equity funding issue and have taken action. This last session I testified at the capital on a bill regarding equity funding authored by Senator Kiffmeyer and was part of a larger group who attended the capital to educate legislators on this issue. When it comes to expansion on I-94 I did more than show up for the groundbreaking. I was part of the large group of local leaders who showed up at capital and numerous other events to let the Governor, Commissioner Zelle and other leaders know how important I-94 expansion is to our residents.
What issues do you see being the biggest affecting District 30 over the next biennium (2 years)?
Equity in School Funding. The bottom line is the funding formulas used to fund our schools are broken and need to be revised; or preferably, rebuilt from the ground up. Last year, STMA school district received the lowest per pupil funding in the state, and the Elk River and BHM districts were not far behind. Our districts also face a similar issue with voter approved levies. With roughly 50 percent of the state budget going to education, we can correct this problem without additional funds. If this issue is not addressed all of our districts will be soon be proposing additional operation levies or making budget, which usually means fewer teachers.
What can you bring to the table for the Republican Caucus if elected in the general election?
I have always tried to take an objective and analytical approach to issues, focused on short and long term results. While I will voice my opinion within the caucus I am a team player and will work as one to get things accomplished.
How can you help a Republican Party that is in the minority now, and might be again in 2014?
Over the course of my career I have been involved in successfully implementing change across a variety of organizations. The skills learned while leading those efforts should be an asset in advancing conservative ideals no matter the size of our caucus. However I do believe we will be the majority in 2015.
How might you help a Republican majority move the state ahead in 2015 and beyond?
While I believe we will have a Republican governor and majority in the house in 2015, Democrats will still control the senate. To get things done we will have to go through the senate. I will work with house leadership to determine how we can achieve success on the issues of greatest importance to this district; and using my private sector process, policy, analytic, and change management experience, determine the areas where I can be of greatest assistance advancing the Republican agenda as a whole.