GROVE CITY -- Five-term incumbent Rep. Dean Urdahl, R-Grove City, and Nancy Larson, a longtime DFLer who lives near Dassel, are seeking election to the State House of Representatives seat in District 18A.
District 18A includes all of Meeker County plus the area west of state Highway 15 in the City of Hutchinson, and Acoma, Hutchinson and Lynn townships in northwestern McLeod County and the city of Cokato and Cokato Township in Wright County.
Urdahl has served the district since 2002 and wants to return to St. Paul to tend to unfinished business in the state Legislature, both on high-level issues like jobs, spending and taxes and a few of his personal interests.
"It is a very important time in state government as to the future of the state," Urdahl said, who also wants to follow through with the restoration of the Capitol building.
Urdahl wants to continue working to remove the barriers to job growth, he says, by examining and removing, if appropriate, the regulations that impede growth.
"The government places barriers in the way of job growth," Urdahl said. "We need to change that."
Larson is well-acquainted with the legislative process, having served as a lobbyist for the Coalition for Greater Minnesota Cities for the past six years and as executive director of the Minnesota Association of Small Cities from 1988 to 2006. She says concern about what is happening in St. Paul moved her to enter the race.
The legislative gridlock that caused the government shutdown last summer and forced the state to borrow from schools and the tobacco settlement funds are just the start of her list of troubles in St. Paul.
"The lack of compromise by legislators does away with the good choices," she said.
The end of the market value homestead credit, which really did not impact property taxes in the metro area but sent taxes higher in rural areas, is an example of how rural legislators have to put away their party labels and work together against the larger number of metro area legislators, Larson said.
For the first time in history, the majority of legislators will represent the metro area of Minnesota and not rural areas, she said. If rural legislators on both sides of the aisle don't stand together, and perhaps against their party leadership, on large issues, the results will be harmful to Greater Minnesota residents, she says.
"If we don't work together on the bread and butter issues, we will be in trouble," Larson said. Her list of issues includes funding for roads, schools, property tax relief and fairness.
Urdahl touts his years of experience, contacts and relationships, plus his seniority. He is now tied for the sixth-longest tenure in the Republican caucus. "I work well with both sides of the aisle to get things done," he said.
The 10-year legislative veteran has served as the chairman of the Legacy Funding committee, responsible for appropriating the $600 million to $700 million per biennium in taxpayer-approved funds for the environment, arts and heritage.
"It's important that we spend the money as the people want," he said, adding that he's led the committee with transparency for two years.
Urdahl also says rural legislators have to stand up, for equity in funding for schools, nursing homes and transportation. "Rural legislators, Republicans and Democrats, have to stand together," he said. "Equity for us is a very important issue."
Family: Wife, Karen; three grown sons; seven grandchildren
Career: State representative and author; retired teacher and coach
Civic experience: Minnesota state representative, chair of Legacy Funding Division of Minnesota House, service on legislative education, agriculture, bonding and government committees, member of State Capitol Restoration Committee, co-chair of Minnesota Civil War Sesquicentennial Task Force, co-chair Minnesota House Redesign Taskforce, past member of State Board of Nursing, past member Board of Public Service Reform, past member Minnesota Education in Agriculture Leadership Council, current vice president of Litchfield Baseball Association.
Family: Husband, Merle; four children; 12 grandchildren; six great-grandchildren
Career: Lobbyist, Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities, 2006-2012; executive director, Minnesota Association of Small Cities, 1988-2006; reporter, Dassel-Cokato Enterprise Dispatch, 1980-1990
Civic experience: Active member, St. John's Catholic Church, Darwin; docent, Smithsonian exhibits at the Dassel Area History Center; Litchfield Opera House grant committee; former board member, Greater Minnesota Environmental Trust