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When it comes to leadership, Rice says he is better prepared to serve

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WILLMAR -- Larry Rice of Willmar believes people voting in the August DFL primary should choose him because he is an effective leader.

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Rice will face State Sen. Lyle Koenen of Clara City in the Aug. 14 primary. The winner of the primary will face Republican Sen. Joe Gimse in the Nov. 6 general election. The men are running in a primary because the party was split and didn't endorse either of them in the race.

"I'm running because I think I would be a more effective leader than Lyle would be," Rice said.

His years as a businessman give him more experience as a leader, he said, and he is used to considering all sides of an issue before making up his mind.

In Rice's opinion, both Koenen and Gimse follow their party's views in situations where they "need to exercise some leadership."

Rice ran against Gimse in 2010 and lost. He said he decided to run for the office again because he felt he had unfinished business.

"We had pretty much the same dysfunctional government in the last two years," he said. "I think there should be some working across the aisle; I see the need for people who are willing and want to do that."

On specific issues, he said he hopes to find a way to repair a structural imbalance in the state's tax system. Property taxes have gone up, but that is not a progressive tax. He is a strong supporter of public education and wants to see the state stop borrowing from its schools.

He has traveled around the district talking to people. "What they're looking for from government is stability," he said.

"Constantly denigrating government is not helpful to our state or society," he said. "There is a proper role for government."

Rice said he would have opposed both of the constitutional amendments the Legislature voted to put on the general election ballot this fall.

On the amendment banning gay marriage, Rice noted that the ban is already in state statute. "We should not be using the constitution to take away rights," he added.

An amendment requiring a government-issued photo identification to vote is "a solution in search of a problem," he said. He is concerned about a new provisional balloting system and about the possibility that older people and poor people could be disenfranchised.

Rice said he believes the new Senate District 17 offers a good opportunity for victory for a moderate DFLer.

He also believes having a district the stretches south and west from Willmar is a more natural fit than the former district that included western Stearns County.

"Our needs as a region are more similar," he said. Kandiyohi County seems to have more interactions with communities south and west, he added.

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Linda Vanderwerf

I cover education issues for the West Central Tribune and have worked for the paper since 1995. I have worked in journalism since 1981.

Follow me on Twitter: @lindavanderwerf

(320) 214-4340
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