Candidate Profiles: Minnesota House of Representatives District 11A James Putnam (R) • Cory Pylkka (I) • Mike Sundin (DFL)
Question 1. How does your past experience, job or education qualify you to serve at the Minnesota House of Representatives/Minnesota Senate?
Question 2. In 2011, it took a government shutdown before the Republican legislative leaders and DFL Gov. Mark Dayton could reach an agreement that patched together a “balanced” budget – including one-time monies and delaying payments totaling $2.4 billion to schools, which haven’t been paid back. What do you think the state needs to do to make ends meet this time around?
Question 3. Why should constituents vote for you on Election Day? What makes you a better choice than your opponent?
I am a life-long Carlton County resident and graduate from Cloquet school systems. I attended Moorhead State College and numerous schools on management, motivation and dealing with people. I have been in sales and management all my life, and I have worked with both the private and public sector. Resided in Esko for eight years, and I was very active in the community. I am the Mayor of Scanlon in my second term. I treat all the people equally and have worked hard to solve residents’ problems. I have dealt with many different personalities within the council, which I will have to do in St. Paul. I was elected Minnesota Fraternal Eagle of the year 2012 for helping people and working with others. This is my motto – people helping people. I will stress this for our District. Please elect Jim Putnam.
The legislature patched together a balanced budget. Schools took a $2.4 billion hit, which is not been paid back yet. This is wrong! This will probably be done again unless we come up with solutions. We are forcing schools to borrow monies to operate. We need to stop delaying payments. We need to cut expenses without cutting teaching positions. We need to cut paraprofessional positions, and extra administrative costs. Our state needs to curb give-away programs. Our state gives away too many tax credit programs. Our legislature needs to work together on needs not wants. The Federal level forces schools with additional programs which creates excessive staffing problems. This has to be curtailed. I would like to see a consumption based program to fund schools instead of property taxes.
Vote Jim Putnam for a representative that will work hard to apply a common sense approach to help all constituents. I am not against unions as my opponent and the Union believes. Unions have their place and everyone deserves a choice. They are not for everybody. Many of my friends are strong union members, however, many are voting for me because they know who I am and what I am about. I am for people helping people. I feel my opponent is out of touch with the average person. He will put unions and collective bargaining as his number one objective. People need more and I will do this. I am Mayor of Scanlon in my second term and I try to control costs and spending. I will strive for these same values in St. Paul.
I have been involved in electoral efforts in Minnesota since 1976 as a delegate to state and national party conventions, party unit chairman, and campaign manager. Five years on the Cloquet School Board helped me to appreciate the importance of public service. My current job as a business market development consultant has helped me to develop communication and organizational skills that will prove to be invaluable while working with other legislators. My negotiating experiences while working as a union organizer will prove to be a valuable asset in St Paul.
The first step in reversing the budget imbalance is to return to a tax structure that works. In 1998 we had a budget surplus in this state as we enjoyed the longest period of economic gains this country has ever experienced. The second step would be to require those that benefit the most from what this state and country has provided such as an educated workforce and a reliable infrastructure, to pay their fair share in taxes. And third, we need to find efficiencies in how we deliver public services, and eliminate wasteful practices such as tax breaks and credits to corporations that fail to produce living wage jobs.
As mentioned above, my electoral work throughout the years in this state has not only brought about a knowledge of the workings of government but also some great working relationships with many of the sitting legislators. These relationships and my work experiences, along with a passion to serve the interests of working families make a good combination for a fresh start in St Paul. It will be an honor to represent District 11A.
It has been the practice of my campaign not to make any personal references about my opponent at any time. Voters should consider his proposal of adding a sales tax on clothing as a new source of funding for education for what it’s worth, just another side-step to stable reform of our tax structure.
Independence Party Candidate Cory Pylkka did not reply or attend the candidate forum in Cloquet.