Judy Rogosheske (DFL) is running against David Osmek (R) for the Minnesota State Senate District 33 seat. Mr. Osmek did not respond to Patch's invitation to participate in this segment.
Please tell us a little bit about yourself. Share something most people don’t know about you.
Most people don't know of the variety of cases I handled in my law practice over 34 years, including representing a Saudi Arabian family business in which the the very nature of the Saudi Arabian legal system was on trial; commodity brokers hood-winked by a modern day cattle rustler, who landed in federal prison; or the pension fund fraud case that resulted in a $9 million judgement and the start of the business in Minnesota known today as Cambria.
What sorts of thoughts come to mind when you think of Lake Minnetonka?
I think of the stories told by our neighbor when we first moved into our home in Orono 30 years ago about the early settlers to the area. I think about how we, as a family have enjoyed the lake over the years, sailing and boating, swimming and skiing, ice boating and on our cross country skiis.
I think about what we need to do to make sure this beautiful lake area will continue to be enjoyed by generations to come.
Are invasive species a local, state or federal issue? Or is it a mix? Describe your views.
As we become more interdependent around the globe, the problems caused by invasive species will only visit us more, and more quickly. To understand the best way to protect our native habitat may best be accomplished at the state and local level, where our understanding of the problem and it's impact is best known.
However, as with the case of Asian carp, a federal answer may well be required as the response to the threat mayrequire action over a multitude of states.
What is the most common issue people talk with you about while campaigning? What do you tell them?
People are concerned with the inability of our government to operate effectively, particularly the Legislature and it's gridlock that resulted in the shut down of our state government last summer.
I tell them that is why I am running for office. We need legislators willing to do the heavy lifting, taking the time to work on the budgeting issues facing our state and to work toward solutions best for Minnesota, putting politics aside and governance first to find solutions we can agree upon that maintain our values and don't rely on gimmicks, or moving the problem to the generation to come.
I think my experience, expertise and ability to work cooperatively will help us reach that goal.
How do you feel about the current property tax levels? What about school district taxes (understanding the State Legislature has no control over them)?
Property taxes have been the major source of revenues in the state since 2002. This is not sustainable. Look at Mound, where my opponent has been on the city council for the last ten years. Mound's property taxes have risen over 350 percent from 2001 to 2010. Mound went from a property tax ranking of 145th among 210 cities to a ranking of 15th among 225 cities in that time, according to the State Auditor's information.
This is unsustainable. This type of property tax pressure makes it more difficult for school referendums to be sustained. Similarly, the loss of the Homestead Tax Credit this last year and the replacement of it with an exclusion will also create added pressure on the property taxes of our municipalities as the municipalities pay for the exclusion, whereas the state general funds reimbursed homeowners for the credit.
Few people understand this ramification. I want to reinstate the Homestead Tax Credit and work on policies that lower reliance on property taxes, both for homeowners and 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?
One of my first priorities would be to assure adequate funding for our schools. We have shifted our timing of payments to the schools, essentially borrowing from our K-12 schools to balance our budget this last biennium.
Moreover, we have chosen not to adequately fund schools, requiring more of them, especially in the areas of needed special education mandates, without providing the promised funding, both at the state and national level. Education is the biggest investment our state can make for it's future. A well trained and educated work force means a vibrant state economy.They are the creators and producers for our future.
Are you satisfied with the public safety services being provided to residents inside the district?
I am concerned that we adequately provide for our first responders, police and fire. This is not only a safety issue, but it impacts our property insurance rates for our homes and businesses.
I am particularly concerned with the public safety cutbacks in Mound, caused by their need to cut their budget because of excessive spending and borrowing over the last ten years. They are now dissolving their police department, shifting their remaining police personnel and equipment to, and contracting with Orono to save money. Mound is a far denser city than Orono, with a history of policing that is suited to it's unique attributes.
We will have to watch and make sure that services are able to be maintained at the level that citizens expect and need.
How would you encourage the average citizen to become more engaged in state government?
Keep informed and stay in touch. I would hope that if I am elected that I am able to provide regular information to our district regarding the issues affecting us at the State Capitol and that I would be able to hear regularly from our residents their concerns and ideas to make government more responsive to thier needs.
Open forum. Why should voters cast their ballot for you this November?
I am a moderate democrat who pledges to put governing ahead of politics for the good of our state. I want to balance the budget without gimmicks, but with a solid investment in education and infrastructure, and prudent cost cutting.
I will work to reduce property taxes.
The positions I've staked out in this campaign are fiscally responsible and reflect the values of this district. My experience and training will help me advance these ideas at the legislature. I promise to work respectfully, responsibly and diligently on your behalf. Thank you for your vote.