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home : election 2012 : election 2012 May 24, 2016

10/29/2012 10:59:00 AM
It's Ohly, Senjem for Senate

By David Richards

Three-term incumbent Dave Senjem (R) and challenger Judy Ohly (DFL) eye District 29's state senate seat that includes Byron, Dodge Center, Kasson, Mantorville, a portion of Pine Island and half of Rochester.

The position is a four-year term. The election is Nov. 6.

Ohly, 56, has spent the past eight years as an Olmsted County commissioner, while Senjem, 69, was first elected to the senate in 2003.

Ohly lives off Highway 63 just outside Rochester on a subdivision that borders the Zumbro River. She said her background as a county commissioner has given her the tools necessary to be qualified for the senate.

"I know local government as well as anybody," she said. "I believe our constituents need legislatures who listen to their community leaders. I think that county government knows the people better than our state legislators know the people, and we should have a greater say in what happens at the state level. I am going to promote that."

Ohly, as does Senjem, feels that one of the most important issues of the next tem will be jobs and the economy.

"We need people who are going to negotiate, collaborate and yes, compromise," she said. "We don't want things that are going to be bad for business, and we can't allow our legislators to push the state budget problems on to local property taxes."

While Ohly said she's not in favor of raising property taxes, she said that in order to balance the budget, raising some form of taxes may be possible.

"We can't continue to borrow from our schools," she said. "The only options we have are to cut spending, raise taxes or promote or create jobs. And there is no way to make enough money from promoting or creating jobs because it takes time to reap the benefits from the jobs you create and promote."

Ohly added that she favors a balanced approach.

"What we're going to have to do is put all the taxes on the table and look at a sensible and fair process and look at reform," she said.

Ohly is on various committees, including the Olmsted County Human Services/Public Safety committee and the Olmsted County Public Works committee.

She has been endorsed by the Rochester Post-Bulletin.

Senjem is a retired environmental affairs officer who lives in Rochester and was raised in Hayfield.

He said he works hard not only in the senate, but also to make himself available to constituents by attending events such as parades or church suppers.

"If a public officer is not willing to do those things and make themselves available, than they shouldn't do it in the first place," Senjem said. "I still have an appetite to listen to people about their problems and solve them with them."

He added that he is willing to cross party lines to get things done and his commitment to doing so is shown through endorsements by both the farmer's union and the farmer's bureau, what Senjem called two politically different groups.

In his time in office, Senjem said he is most proud of his work with then Gov. Tim Pawlenty to make the University of Minnesota Rochester a reality, which opened in 2007.

He also expressed the importance of continuing work on the Stage Coach Trail, a proposed 40-mile bike trail that when finished would stretch from Douglas in the east to Owatonna in the west.

If re-elected, Senjem said jobs and the economy will still be the most important issue facing the senate, including dealing with a high corporate tax rate.

"Minnesota is a great state, but we're not attractive to business growth because of the tax and regulatory climate," he said. "We have a tax rate of 9.8% and Georgia has a 6% tax rate. When Delta and Northwest merged, and they were looking at here or there, they went there.

"Hopefully we can make some changes."

Senjem is chair of the capital investment committee, which takes a look at critical investments throughout the state, such as if a college needs a new roof or the Hormel Institute in Austin should expand, which it recently did.

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