Kulberg: Can-do approach key to success
HECTOR -- Gregg Kulberg is making his first bid for elected office but is going at it with the confidence of an incumbent.
Perhaps it's because he is on familiar ground when it comes to taking on new challenges.
The Republican candidate for the Minnesota Senate seat representing District 20 started his working career as a loan officer with Production Credit Association in Redwood Falls. He jumped to a Lakeville-based company known as National Electric and helped it grow as an environmental firm serving utility companies. The work force rocketed from 40 to more than 500 employees by the time Westinghouse bought the company.
Soon after, Kulberg took on yet a new endeavor. He began managing Madsen Boatworks in Big Lake.
The attributes he wants voters to know are his experience in business and as a business owner, and what he calls a commonsense approach to government.
"I always felt I was a conservative,'' said Kulberg of his political credentials. The Hector native is facing incumbent District 20 Sen. Gary Kubly, DFL-Granite Falls. The district is in far western Minnesota, comprised of Big Stone, Chippewa, Lac qui Parle, Lincoln, Renville and Swift counties.
Kulberg grew up on a farm south of Hector where his father raised turkeys. Kulberg started a farrow-to-finish hog operation as a ninth-grade FFA project. The earnings from his operation allowed him to pay his way to a college degree in agronomy with a minor in economics at the University of Minnesota.
He started his career as a loan officer in the midst of the farm crisis, at a time when he saw operational loans soar to a 26 percent interest rate.
Kulberg, 52, is back home on the farm in partnership with his brothers and sister.
He's been campaigning since June 1, offering himself as the citizen's candidate who wants government to get out of the way of business. "We need to stop overregulating the way we do now,'' he said.
He said the state needs to take out the uncertainty that is holding business back.
He said he's hearing lots of concerns from businesses on the campaign trail, especially from the rural cooperatives serving the district. He would like to see the state repeal the renewable energy standard that he said is keeping the rural electric associations from importing new electricity from coal.
Kulberg said the state's budget deficit is the result of overspending during the good times and "thinking the good times were going to last forever.
"That was short-sighted,'' he added.
He advocates cuts to balance the state budget and solve the large projected deficit.
He opposes any sort of tax increases. The economy is too fragile, he said, and his district's proximity to the Dakotas already puts it at a tax advantage for businesses, he said. Too many jobs are leaving the state, Kulberg said.
Providing children with a quality K -12 education is a "mandate'' for the state, but Kulberg said he cannot support new spending for pre-school and other programs.
If elected, he'd also like to see a residency requirement adopted before public assistance is available.
Kulberg would favor legislation to allow Canterbury Park and its owners -- the Sampson family from Hector -- to build a racino. He would not earmark the taxes generated by a racino for a Vikings stadium. He feels the metropolitan area should be responsible for any public help provided a stadium.
He sees no easy solution for our transportation funding needs, but would not allow rural dollars to be applied towards light rail development.
Employment: Self-employed farmer in partnership with siblings
Education: Buffalo Lake-Hector High School; bachelor's degree in agronomy, University of Minnesota