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John Nephew

Maplewood City Council Policy & Politics


My Ballot: Federal & State Races

Well, it's election day, and the ballot is a big one.  While we've been bombarded with ads about the governor's race in particular, there are many more races on the ballot, and it's often hard to figure out who these people are and who I should vote for.  So for whatever it's worth, I thought I'd put up a couple of postings about the races in Maplewood Precinct 3 and how I'm planning to vote this afternoon.


For the legislative offices, I'll vote for Betty McCollum for U.S. Congress, Chuck Wiger for Minnesota Senate, and Leon Lillie for Minnesota House.  All three have represented their districts well, and I've found them to be strong partners for local government, something I appreciate in my role as a councilmember.


For Governor and Lieutenant Governor, I'll be filling in the circle next to Mark Dayton and Yvonne Prettner Solon.

There's no way I would support a radical ideologue like Emmer.  Setting aside his basic philosophy of gutting government in order to maximize the short-term take-home pay of his rich backers, regardless of the cost to our whole state's quality of life, this is a guy who doesn't seem to care for the U.S. Constitution except when it suits him personally.  Consider the legislation he authored earlier this year, to amend the state constitution to decree that federal laws would apply to Minnesota only after being ratified by supermajorities of both houses of the legislature and being signed by the governor -- a direct assault on the supremacy clause, and the basic reason that we have a U.S. Constitution instead of the Articles of Confederation.

While there's a lot I like about Tom Horner -- including his choice of running mate (someone closely familiar with the issues faced by local government units), and his willingness to consider revenue increases as well as budget cuts to address the ongoing fiscal train wreck that Pawlenty is leaving to his successor -- Dayton is willing to put more options on the table, including income tax increases on top earners.  I grew up in Duluth and have family there, and have heard only great things about Sen. Solon.  Dayton's choice of running mate is a good indicator of his ability to build a great team to help Minnesota navigate the challenges of a coming year.

Secretary of State

Mark Ritchie's term in office has been more interesting than is usual for a Secretary of State.  Throughout the Franken/Coleman recount, he conducted himself in a way that made Minnesota proud.  He took the lessons of that experience and worked to change laws in ways to make the voting system better, and has worked hard to increase participation at the ballot box -- for example, with changes to help make sure Minnesotans serving in the military overseas have the ability to vote and be sure their vote is counted.

Ritchie's main opponent, Dan Severson, has served in the legislature.  His signature issue is requiring photo ID at the polls, something that would make it harder for many Minnesotans (especially seniors who no longer drive) to vote.  While there has been news recently about a small number felons voting when they shouldn't, Severson has voted against bills that would address this issue -- such as one that would have notified felons of their status with respect to voting rights, or another that would provide the Secretary of State with lists of deceased voters and felons not eligible to vote.

State Auditor

The office of State Auditor is another where the incumbent, Rebecca Otto, has done a fine job, executing her duties effectively and without partisanship.  When I was newly elected to the City Council, I one day walked into the offices of the State Auditor just because I had some questions and wanted to understand some of the issues I might face in office.  Much to my surprise, I found myself welcomed into the office of the State Auditor herself, where she spent more than an hour talking with me and educating me about her office and its relationship to city government.  The State Auditor is elected to be a watchdog (something Otto's many investigations demonstrate that she does well), but her role is also to be a helper to local governments.  Rebecca Otto has proven herself to me on both counts.


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