Investing in Minnesota

Friday, October 22nd, 2010

I received a call today from a man in LeSueur.  I had knocked on his door last weekend, and he told me he was fed up with the “crap” that the Republican Party was shoving in his mailbox and that I had his vote.  He was probably referring to the negative ads citing spending for gorilla cages, polar bears, or sculpture gardens, all part of a recent capital investment bill.  While I am not inclined to acknowledge what my opponents are up to, I will gladly provide some context to this piece of legislation.

The Senate’s version of the Capital Investment Bill is developed following hundreds of meetings that are held around the state.  By the time it is heard on the Senate floor, it is a wide-ranging piece of legislation, which includes investments in public infrastructure throughout Minnesota.  While it is easy to cherry-pick one or two items out of the hundreds included in these investment packages and criticize the vote, a look at the bigger picture reveals an investment in Minnesota while preserving past investments made by our citizens.

One could vote against the Como Zoo, the Ordway Theater and the sculpture garden in Minneapolis. But to do so, one would have to also vote against millions of dollars in investment for education, the environment, health care, our veterans, and the creation of more than 10,000 jobs.  In and near my own district, the bonding bill included money for parks and trails, the Minnesota Valley Regional rail line,  correctional facilities, and the deaf and blind academies.  I staunchly support job creation via projects like these, no matter where in Minnesota they are located.

Among the hundreds of other items included in the capital investment bills were funds for the U of M, our state colleges, flood prevention, financing for infrastructure in rural Minnesota, improvements for roads and bridges, early childhood facilities, RIM (Reinvest in Minnesota), and vital dollars for our veterans homes.  The Como Zoo project alone created more than 1,000 jobs.

When this bill was heard in the full Senate, I was part of a bipartisan landslide (57 ayes, 10 nays) that voted to pass it and send it to the Governor for his approval.  The debt service on the bonds for these projects was well within the limits set to maintain our AAA bond rating as a state.  With construction costs coming in under bid, interest rates at all time lows, this was the right time to invest in Minnesota and get people back to work.

I will continue to run a positive campaign and I will continue to welcome a phone call or two from my constituents who are ready to send me back to St. Paul.  I look forward to working with them and for them.

One Year Ago… December 3

Tuesday, December 2nd, 2008

One year ago, on December 3, I gave a speech at the DFL Endorsing Convention in New Prague hoping to land the endorsement for Senate District 25.  Senator Tom Neuville had announced his resignation from the seat several weeks prior, paving the way for a Special Election to be held January 3.  It was a night that I will not soon forget.

A few weeks prior to the endorsement, Ray Coudret, Earl Weinmann, Mark Thornton and I met to discuss the possibility of a Senate run.  It seemed like the perfect opportunity:  a short election with the incumbent out of the race?   Time was also our biggest challenge.  Would I have time to get my name out there?  Could we raise enough money?  Would people go to the polls for a special election?  Could we do this over a 30 day period while most people were gearing up for the holiday season?   I threw my hat in the ring.  Our first goal was to win the endorsement.

Tuesday night, December 3, New Prague:  Ray, Earl, and I arrived at the convention.  There were about 70  delegates in attendance.  I had been given a list of delegates the week before and I made a courtesy call to each asking for their support.  There were three other very qualified candidates seeking endorsement.  They had an obvious head start.  The other candidates had already printed signs and had already raised money.  Dozens of non-delegates were on hand to cheer them on.  My brother had helped me design a logo, “Dahle for Senate” and we had splashed it on a half sheet of paper atop a letter asking for support.  I pulled Earl and Ray aside and quietly suggested they hand out my “campaign literature.”

If I was going to win the endorsement, I was going to have to give a hell of a speech.  Earl, my “press secretary” helped me write that speech.  I used all 7 minutes to talk about education, health care, jobs, our environment, and quality of life. I talked about a common sense, bipartisan approach to government.  I talked about staying in touch with constituents, listening to their concerns, and representing their values and beliefs in St. Paul.  It was a heartfelt speech.  The delegates responded and I took the lead on the first ballot.

The Question and Answer session followed.  With Ray and Earl’s encouragement, I convinced a few more delegates that I could win in January.  Eventually, I was endorsed on the sixth ballot.

Later on, the three of us walked across the street to Miller’s Bar.  Our mood was of quiet excitement.  We were exhausted and more than once we asked ourselves, “What do we do now?”

But things fell into place.  December was a whirlwind.  Ray became my campaign manager, Earl wrote the press releases, and volunteers like Hoover, Dan, Libby and a host of supporters from all over the district and the State helped launch a winning campaign and an upset victory on January 3.

I have learned much in my first session as a Minnesota Senator.  As I look back, I am reminded of the importance of staying in touch, listening to concerns, reaching across the aisle, and representing this district with a common sense approach to governing.  My constituents would expect as much, especially the 70 delegates who took a chance on me one year ago.

Vote Kevin Dahle 2012