Voters in Minnesota's Senate District 18, which includes McLeod, Meeker and Sibley counties, as well as Cokato and Cokato Township, will have two choices in this year's election: incumbent Sen. Scott Newman, R-Hutchinson, and challenger Chad Tschimperle, a Democrat from Cokato.
Newman, an attorney, is seeking his fourth term in the Senate. He was first elected in 2010. He won re-election in 2012 with 58.2 percent of the votes, and again in 2016 with 66.7 percent of the votes. He also served in the Minnesota House of Representatives from 2004 to 2007.
Tschimperle has been a construction worker since 1989 and a member of Local 563 Laborers' Union since 2001.
The two candidates took some time recently to answer five questions from the Leader about issues they might face and what their priorities would be if elected to the Senate this year.
If reelected, what would be your top priorities in the next four years?
NEWMAN: 1. Protect constitutionally dedicated transportation funds (gas tax, license tabs and sales tax on auto sales). The Constitution requires this money be spent for “highway purposes.” However, MNDOT has a history of siphoning these funds off for purposes like sponsorships, parades, personnel and administrative expenses.
2. Provide regulatory relief for our businesses. Complying with unnecessary regulations is very expensive and requires unnecessary state employees to administer.
3. Limit the growth of state government. While our population has remained fairly constant, the Minnesota budget increases approximately $1.7 billion every year. I do not believe that rate of spending increases is sustainable or necessary.
TSCHIMPERLE: I would like work on legislation to make health care more affordable for working people and the self-employed. The MNCare program has helped and could be expanded. There is a tremendous need for affordable health care in our district, and I would like to work on a solution.
Another issue I believe is important is rural internet access. When student learning, social interaction and working from home became the norm during COVID-19, the inadequacy of Minnesota's internet services was revealed. Border-to-border broadband is not a luxury, it is a necessity, and I will work to accomplish that goal.
What should the Legislature do in the next legislative session to aid Minnesotans affected by COVID-19?
NEWMAN: End the governor’s emergency powers. Without that, the Legislature is not in a position to aid Minnesotans affected by COVID, because all authority, legislative and executive, rests solely with the governor.
TSCHIMPERLE: The Legislature should structure an emergency aid package that will assist individuals and businesses and help them through the COVID-19 pandemic. I think the Legislature should support Gov. Walz in a strong bipartisan manner and model their work in cooperation with his. Together we can make it through this crisis. Working against each other will only make it more difficult.
Rural Minnesotans often feel their communities miss out compared to metropolitan areas when it comes to state assistance for cities, schools and roads. How would you like to see these concerns addressed?
NEWMAN: Unfortunately, state assistance has become increasingly rural vs. urban. This occurs because legislators are elected on the basis of population. Consequently, urban areas elect the majority of legislators. Two areas voters should consider:
1. Elect legislators who understand why urban areas elect the majority of legislators and will fight to see that rural Minnesota is not left behind.
2. State agencies in general have overregulated our businesses. This is very true in rural Minnesota. Elect legislators who understand the rule-making, regulatory and permitting processes and stop state agencies from creating public policy through the rule-making process.
TSCHIMPERLE: I would support increasing local government aid to rural communities and work to mend the rural-urban divide that has been promoted by some over the last couple of decades. We are all Minnesotans, and we must work together to prosper together.
What measures would you support to help farmers facing volatile commodity prices and market disruptions caused by COVID-19?
NEWMAN: 1. Ease unnecessary regulations and onerous permit processes, which make it difficult for the ag industry to survive, compete and expand.
2. Support policies that open world markets.
3. End the governor’s emergency powers to allow all 201 legislators to engage with their ideas to promote the ag industry.
TSCHIMPERLE: The leadership in Washington has caused more problems with poor diplomacy and clumsy tariffs than the pandemic has for commodity prices and market disruptions. We will have to provide farmers with as much emergency aid as we can to help get them through this crisis. Hopefully, we will get better leadership in Washington soon.
What do you see as the most important step or steps to bolster rural schools in Minnesota?
NEWMAN: 1. Provide broadband internet service to all rural schools. Without broadband, students are severely handicapped.
2. Get students back into the classroom. Distance learning is not doing justice for our students. They need to be in the classroom.
TSCHIMPERLE: Public education is vitally important to our state's future success. Our investments in education gives us a rich return. Rural communities need more state investment to provide the education our children must have. I would support modifying the school funding formulas to increase resources for rural schools.