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Dist. 20B: Swoboda says he'll 'get priorities in line'

OLIVIA -- Don Swoboda is making his first run for elected office, but he darn well knows the run to the capitol in St. Paul.

Swoboda, 47, often joined his parents Delores and Gene Swoboda as they led farmers to the state capitol under the banner of Groundswell during the farm crisis in the 1980's. They returned again and again when state and federal governments eyed the bedrock along the Minnesota River to bury hazardous and even nuclear wastes.

Through it all, one lesson he learned in St. Paul has really stuck: "They don't seem to care about what's happening out here,'' he said.

Swoboda said he wants to go to St. Paul to speak up for rural issues.

Most of all, he said, "we have to get our priorities in line.''

Swoboda is the Republican endorsed candidate for the District 20 B seat and faces DFL incumbent Lyle Koenen of Clara City.

He and his wife Mary are parents of two sons and live in Olivia. He farms the family's land in southern Renville County. They also own Country Court Mobile Home Park.

Economic issues are at the forefront of his concerns.

"Our local economy is getting nailed,'' said the candidate.

The state is facing tough economic times, and needs to focus its resources only on those things that matter most, according to the candidate. He wants to see education, roads and bridges, health care and veteran's issues given top priority.

He opposes the Clean Water Legacy Amendment. He said he has concerns about raising taxes when people are worried how they will pay this winter's heating bills. He's also concerned about how the money would be spent.

Asked how he would address the projected state budget deficit, Swoboda said: "Do we need all of these state employees?''

There are lots of ways the state can do with less, according to the candidate. He likens the state budget to a family's decision between buying an expensive plasma or low-cost, standard TV screen. It's time for government to be more frugal, he said.

Swoboda said he'd also fight to ease the economic burdens the state puts on businesses and local governments with ever tougher pollution standards. He pointed to his manufactured home park as an example. New, more stringent arsenic standards are forcing him to install a $12,000 water filtering system to reduce levels from 50 parts per billion to 10. There's no guarantee the system will work, and Swoboda questions whether there is any real health benefit.

Health costs are the "big gorilla'' that no one seems able to address, said Swoboda. He believes there are ways caps can be placed on costs to make health care more affordable.

He also believes that the state should make health care services more accessible to veterans in rural areas. Some are now traveling 150 miles for care that could be provided closer to home, he said.

New to the role of being a candidate, Swoboda said he knows it's an uphill battle to unseat an incumbent but he is enjoying the opportunity all the same. "The main thing I'm running for is so we can help some people,'' he said.