Senate District 13 voters face the decision of re-electing incumbent Joe Gimse of Willmar or choosing challenger Larry Rice of Willmar.
It is a choice of the Republican incumbent of one term or the Democratic challenger to represent District 13 in the state Senate.
Rice is the better choice in this race.
Senate District 13 covers all of Kandiyohi and Pope counties and the western half of Stearns County. It is a primarily rural district with agriculture being the primary industry. Willmar is the largest city and has the most diverse population in the district.
Gimse won the 2006 election calling for "a need for change." His top issues at the time were less partisanship, better transportation by making U.S. Highway 12 a four-lane highway to the Twin Cities, education funding, local government aid and lower business taxes.
His accomplishments this term were minimal. Certainly, he faced a challenge in the DFL-controlled Senate as a first-term senator, but he seemed politically naïve as to the scope of his political challenge there. He was also ineffective in adopting immigration as a priority issue during his term as it remains primarily a federal issue.
A bigger concern is that the district's public officials often found Gimse to be ineffective or unresponsive at times on local issues. He developed an unrenowned reputation in the Legislature, seldom speaking in committee or on the floor about the needs of his district or critical issues of the state. Overall, Gimse lacks a clear sense of vision and leadership for his or the district's role, often falling back upon political talking points.
Citizens in west central Minnesota need effective leadership to convey the needs and issues of important in this district. This means District 13 needs a change and Larry Rice would meet that need.
Rice is a lifelong successful businessman in Willmar of 35 years, working first in the landscape and nursery field and recently in the home design and construction field. He has a good academic background, starting at Ridgewater College and then earning a bachelor's degree. He then returned to college in his 40s and earned a master's in business administration degree and a law degree, all while still managing his business.
His campaign priorities have been growing jobs, investing in education, improving health care, practicing environmental stewardship and building strong communities.
Rice knows how to balance a budget and has a successful business background. He will seek solutions to the state budget -- including spending cuts and raising revenue -- with a priority on sustainability.
He brings a remarkable perspective and understanding to the critical issues of the district as well as of the state. He would bring the type of visionary leadership to the Senate that this district critically needs.
The West Central Tribune endorses Rice for election on Nov. 2 as District 13 senator.