Voters' Guide: Cruze challenges Johnson for slot on November ballot in District 13

Editor's note: This is the first in a series of candidate profiles for the upcoming primary election Sept. 12. Candidates were asked to provide biographical information and respond in writing to three questions from the Tribune.

Editor's note: This is the first in a series of candidate profiles for the upcoming primary election Sept. 12. Candidates were asked to provide biographical information and respond in writing to three questions from the Tribune.

WILLMAR -- DFL voters in Senate District 13 have a choice in the Sept. 12 primary between incumbent Sen. Dean Johnson of Willmar and a newcomer to the political arena, Michael Cruze of Willmar.

Cruze is a retired Minnesota State Patrol officer who is making his first bid for public office. Johnson is a Lutheran pastor, Minnesota National Guard chaplain and brigadier general who has served in the state Legislature since 1978. He currently serves as the Majority Leader in the Senate.

The primary winner will face Joe Gimse, the Republican-endorsed candidate for the Senate District 13 seat.

Senate District 13 includes the city of Willmar and the rest of Kandiyohi County, all of Pope County and the western portion of Stearns County. Maps are available for viewing on the Secretary of State Web site at .


Why are you seeking to be the DFL candidate in the November general election for the Senate District 13 seat?

Cruze: I am seeking to be the DFL candidate in Senate District 13 because the current senator has betrayed the confidence and trust of not only the DFL'ers, but all the citizens of this district by failing to represent their beliefs.

Johnson: I am seeking re-election because I have the desire and experience necessary to work for District 13. I am a conservative, pro-life Democrat with a 28-year record of advocating for our district. I have been endorsed by the DFL and numerous other public safety, education, and community organizations.

Why should DFL voters choose you to advance to the general election?

Cruze: They will have an opportunity to restore integrity to the office of Senate District 13 while at the same time advancing a candidate to the general election whose victory will keep the Minnesota State Senate a DFL majority. 

Johnson: I currently serve as the Senate Majority Leader. My leadership and seniority has enabled me to pass numerous county improvement bills and to fight for the needs of rural Minnesota and District 13, including projects such as: Highway 23/71 bypass, Glacial Lakes Trail funding and the Willmar Airport.

What do you see as the top three issues facing the district and how do you hope to address those issues if elected?

Cruze: First and second would be the marriage amendment and bringing an end to abortion. Third would be several issues, each important enough to be third; health care, property tax reform, quality learning resources for K-12, and good roads for our rural area. For the marriage amendment, simply allowing the citizens to vote is the only way to address that issue. For the rest of the issues there are no quick fix answers. It is a matter of knowing the will of the people, then putting our heads together and coming up with solutions.


Johnson: Education. I want to make sure all children have opportunity and will continue to support additional school funding, knowing that an early investment in our children pays dividends for years to come.

Transportation. I will fight to increase safety, invest in roads, keep the burden of payment off our children, hold agencies accountable and invest in alternative sources of fuel and transportation.

Job climate/tax fairness. I will work to install fairness in our tax structure, as well as provide property tax relief. More rural jobs will be created if fair tax policies are approved and local governments are funded appropriately.

Cruze bio in brief

Name: Michael Charles Cruze

Age: 61

Family: Wife, Janice; three children and 11 grandchildren.

Occupation/employer: Retired Minnesota State Patrol officer. Currently serves in an uncompensated managing position for J & C Enterprises of Central Minnesota LLC, a company owned by his wife and one of his sisters.


Political experience: "My political experience is untainted."

Johnson bio in brief

Name: Dean Elton Johnson

Age: 59

Family: Wife, Avonelle (deceased); son, Geoffrey Barnes

Occupation/employer: Lutheran pastor, National Guard chaplain and brigadier general, Majority Leader in the Minnesota State Senate

Political experience: Elected to the House 1978, re-elected 1980; elected to the Senate 1982, re-elected 1986, 1990, 1992, 1996, 2000, 2002.

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