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Kubly says he remains focused on all that needs to be done for Minn.

GRANITE FALLS -- This may not be one of the virtues Gary Kubly has preached from the pulpit, but his wife Pat's summation of his drive tells volumes.

"She tells me I'm too stubborn to give up,'' said Kubly, chuckling.

Kubly, 66, said there is much that needs to be accomplished, and the time is now to do it.

"I don't want to leave when things are such a mess,'' he said, in reference to the budget deficit facing the state.

Kubly, DFL-Granite Falls, is seeking his second term as state senator for District 20.

The district is in far western Minnesota, comprised of Big Stone, Chippewa, Lac qui Parle, Lincoln, Renville and Swift counties.

Kubly has also served previously as a state representative, serving three two-year terms in the House beginning in 1996.

Kubly is a Lutheran minister who served rural congregations for more than two decades in Minnesota. He also served farm families during the midst of the farm crisis in a calling from the Lutheran churches in the state.

He grew up on a family farm south of Albert Lea near Ventura, Iowa. He earned his bachelor's degree in biology at Mankato State University. He served with the U.S. Air Force at its School of Aerospace Medicine. He taught school for two years in Texas, where he met his wife, Pat.

His call to the ministry led him to St. Paul and the Luther Theological Seminary (1970-74), and subsequently to rural parishes in western Minnesota.

Kubly and his wife moved to Granite Falls in 1982, and raised three children.

Working on the needs of individual constituents is one of the roles that Kubly said he enjoys most, although much of that work is out of the public's eye.

The tenacity to make things happen in St. Paul is not always in the public's eye either, but very important. Kubly said he fought for seven years before succeeding in getting a bill passed that makes it illegal to tamper with the hours of operation recorded on farm machinery. Why it has always been illegal to tamper with a car's odometer -- but OK to change the hours of operation on a combine or tractor -- is one of those puzzling quandaries that he encountered in St. Paul.

District 20 is one of the largest districts in the state in terms of its geographic size, and its population is dispersed among many small towns. Kubly has clocked as many as 1,000 miles a week in his role as a legislator.

The district continues to lose population -- it is estimated to have 11,000 people since the last census.

Kubly cited job creation as the most important issue. Some of the most important progress on that front occurred in the last session. Legislation provides tax credits for investments in new and emerging business developments in rural communities. Despite the recession, there's ample evidence that the legislation is having the intended results of creating new, rural jobs.

Kubly said that he also remains optimistic that the Prairie Correctional Facility in Appleton can reopen, and vowed to continue to work on that effort. He's hopeful of seeing federal inmates held there, and believes that in three years or so, the state could again be using the private prison as well.

He said he also supports the effort to build a veterans nursing home in Montevideo.

Kubly said the biggest key to job growth in the state remains our educational system. A well-educated work force, rural work ethic and the quality of life to be found in Minnesota are big factors in why companies chose to do business here, he said.

If re-elected, Kubly said he will continue to fight for educational funding, particularly on behalf of rural districts. He said there are school districts in the state with more than 30 students in some of the lower elementary grades.

He also opposes the state's cuts to Local Government Aid, charging that they hurt rural communities and serve to transfer more of the tax burden to local property taxes.

Kubly said he opposes one-sided approaches to solving the state's budget deficit. He believes state government will need to be smaller, but to rely on cuts alone to solve the budget problem only sets the stage for bigger problems down the road. Simply raising taxes to increase revenues creates similar, long-term problems as the state's population ages and population slows.

He argues that the state should follow the advice of State Finance Director Tom Stinson and look for ways to both make cuts and raise new revenues.

People are looking for a budget that is balanced for the long term and don't want to see gimmicks and shifts used to do it, said Kubly. They also will support a tax increase if done fairly, he explained.

Tom Cherveny

Tom Cherveny is a regional and outdoor reporter with the West Central Tribune in Willmar, MN.

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