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Election 2012: Cindy Pugh, Minnesota House District 33B (R)

This week, Lake Minnetonka Patch will be featuring candidates seeking a variety of elected offices. Check back soon for your comprehensive voter guide, coming soon!

Cindy Pugh is running against Denise Bader for the Minnesota State House District 33B seat up for election this November.

Please tell us a little bit about yourself. Share something most people don’t know about you.

My family is from Waukesha, WI, and I’m the oldest of three girls. Little did I know that I’d find myself in the political arena one day when I was selected to represent my Waukesha High School class of over 1,400 students as its "Badger Girls State" delegate to our state’s capitol, Madison.

Upon graduation from the University of Wisconsin at Madison, I married my high school sweetheart, Jack, and we’ve been happily married for 32 years. We made a conscious decision to build our home in Chanhassen 25 years ago because of the highly acclaimed Minnetonka Public Schools, one of the finest districts in the nation—from which both of our kids graduated.

What sorts of thoughts come to mind when you think of Lake Minnetonka?

When I think of ‘Lake Minnetonka,’ many thoughts come to mind—including the lake itself, the history of the many communities which surround it and the character of the people which bring the lake to life. Its historical significance can be seen everywhere—from stone arch entrances to family lake properties to original boat ‘houses’ … the character and personality of Lake Minnetonka abounds.

The words, ‘Crown Jewel’ also come to mind as Lake Minnetonka is incredibly special. It’s a fact; Lake Minnetonka is a tremendous asset to the area and to Minnesota. In addition to thoughts, I see the breathtaking beauty of the lake in my ‘mind’s eye’ including spectacular sunsets, glistening water and fabulous seasonal color. The most noteworthy thought I have of Lake Minnetonka, however, is of the character and the hard-working nature of the people I’ve had the privilege to meet as well as the relationships I’ve begun to build while door-knocking throughout the district.

Are invasive species a local, state or federal issue? Or is it a mix? Describe your views.

The threat of AIS is real and an important issue impacting lakes throughout the district. It’s also a contentious issue—pitting groups of people against one another (i.e. fishermen who want access vs. property owners whose values are impacted by the spread of AIS).

I don’t have a solution or know who should bear the costs, but believe a collaborative effort of stakeholders must occur in order to generate practical and realistic solutions all will ‘buy into.’ It’s a fact; Aquatic Invasive Species are here … and assigning blame, increasing fines and regulations are not going to stop the spread.

I believe all levels of government have a role to play, but that solutions should be identified and initiatives executed at the most local level possible—and without unfunded mandates from governing entities.

What is the most common issue people talk with you about while campaigning? What do you tell them?

Jobs, the economy and spending. Most people I’ve spoken with are alarmed by the $16 trillion debt we’ve incurred as a nation; they’re worried about its impact on our state and on their kids’ future ... and they agree with me that it’s immoral.

People are worried about the lack of private sector job creation in our state. Those who don’t have a job are worried about finding one, and those who have jobs are worried about being able to keep them. Small business owners are anxious about the cost of doing business in one of the most highly taxed states in the nation. They are also worried about the possibility of tax increases—a concern shared by a majority of residents in this district.  

The current spending path we’re on is unsustainable. Most people I’ve spoken with know this and expect government to live within its means, just as hard working families must do.

How do you feel about the current property tax levels? What about school district taxes (understanding the State Legislature has no control over them)?

Bottom line: I believe property taxes are too high. I’d also like to note that the question incorrectly states that the State Legislature has no control over school district taxes when, in fact, all Minnesota property tax law is set by the Legislature. The majority of school funding comes from the Statewide General Property Tax, a tax on commercial and industrial properties and seasonal cabins, and the rate of this tax is set by legislation.

In addition to the approximately $5,200 the state pays to each school district per pupil, the majority of the district’s remaining budget comes from taxpayer approved levies. This current system is complicated, expensive to administer and is one reason for Minnesota’s extremely high commercial and industrial tax rates. I fully support the tax bill the legislature put forward to Governor Dayton last session.  

I will fight for more property tax relief for middle class families, seniors who are worried about not being able to stay in their homes and small businesses.

If the funding were available, what projects—either shovel ready or on the drawing board—would you advocate dedicating it to inside the district?

I will only support projects that focus on public infrastructure like roads, bridges and wastewater treatment plants. I will be a strong advocate for earmarking reform and eliminating wasteful pork-project spending.

Minnesota taxpayers deserve accountability from their legislature and responsible spending.

Are you satisfied with the public safety services being provided to residents inside the district?

Yes; I am especially pleased to see the ongoing collaboration between our local police departments and the Hennepin County Sheriff’s office, for example, as they continue working together through community outreach and innovative partnerships. Whether it’s through utilization of the excellent support by the county’s accredited crime lab or consolidated dispatch services, I support initiatives which result in residents receiving a high level of support while taxpayers get good value and service for their hard-earned dollar.

And, as a 25-year Carver County resident, I have been impressed with their outreach to residents including their timely Crime Alert notification program.

How would you encourage the average citizen to become more engaged in state government?

First, pick up an ‘Official Directory’ of the Minnesota Legislature at the Capitol and handouts detailing committees on which your legislators will be serving, contact info, etc. Contact your elected officials; introduce yourself; inform them of issues of significance to you.

Attend and/or consider testifying at a hearing on a matter for which you have expertise or passion. Sign up to receive e-newsletters; attend meetings held within your community. Read the Minnesota Constitution; read each Party’s Platform; compare and contrast their positions with your own; plan to attend your Caucus next February. So many ways to get involved … contact me for more!

Open forum. Why should voters cast their ballot for you this November?

I have a deep love and concern for our country, significant volunteer involvement in my community, and have demonstrated support of conservative causes for many years. I believe this ‘new’ district is deserving of new representation—more reflective of its constituency. As a first-time candidate, I offer a fresh and energetic voice, and believe in limited government and private sector job growth.  

I’ve been endorsed by my Representative, Joe Hoppe and by Congressmen John Kline and Erik Paulsen, whose respective comments, “…integrity, passion and dedication to service…” and “…a steadfast voice for life, liberty and smaller government…” are reflective of voters throughout the district.

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