Candidate profile — David Page, challenger, DFLDavid Page: I have a Master’s Degree in English from the University of Minnesota and a master’s degree in public administration from the University of Iowa. I have spent 30 years in public and private education, from K-12 through higher education. For the last 20 years, I have taught writing at Inver Hills Community College. I have a brother in the Air Force, a brother who is an internal auditor for John Deere, a sister who teaches middle school, and a sister who is a nurse. My father is a retired educator and my mother is a retired small-business owner.
Q: Why did you decide to seek this office?
A: When Rep. McNamara put Gov. Pawlenty’s “No new taxes” pledge ahead of the welfare of his constituents by voting against funding to expedite the construction of the Hastings Bridge, I was appalled, especially since the collapse of the I-35W bridge showed us infrastructure problems can prove tragic. I think the citizens of 57B deserve a representative who puts their welfare above party politics. Rather than simply complain and live in fear about the direction and tone of politics, I decided to get more deeply involved and run for public office for the first time in my life.
Q: The State of Minnesota continues to face an ongoing financial budget shortfall. How do you believe this should be addressed now and in the future?
A: Since we working class people pay 12 percent of our income in state taxes and the top 1 percent of income earners in the state pay less than 8 percent, having a more equitable tax system could raise around $1.8 billion. According to Rep. McNamara’s own campaign literature, if he and the Republicans had not upheld Governor Pawlenty’s veto of General Assistance Medical Care reform, another $.7 billion could have come to our state. If Republicans don’t block the reform next session, we would still have to cut another $3 billion from other programs to balance the budget. By taking the best ideas from the entire length of political spectrum, we can manage in the short term. In the long term, we need to invest heavily in early childhood programs. By putting children on the right path early, we can save millions in long-term health care and incarceration costs. A better-educated population will also provide the kind of environment that will attract more businesses to the state. Teaching at a community college has shown me how to create a better business climate through adequate funding for education. For example, when administrators at Inver Hills saw a need for computer network training in the area, they set up a program at Inver Hills that is currently one of the best in the nation. About five years ago, when Eagan-based Thompson West’s network went down, the company began losing thousands of dollars every minute. West called Inver Hills, and our students and instructors had the company’s network back up in 45 minutes. If West had to rely solely on out-of-state vendors, it would have taken 24 hours. That’s the kind of business climate Minnesota needs.
Q: What are the other major issues facing this state? How should they be addressed?
A: Finland is a nation with about the same geography as Minnesota. It currently produces 50 percent of its own energy by means of renewable resources. Public and private investment is needed to make Minnesota a leader in both the United States and the world in sustainable energy production. By doing this, we can reduce pollution and create high-paying jobs.
Q: What makes you the best candidate for this position – why should people vote for you on Nov. 2?
A: If distributing wealth upwards were the answer to our nation’s problems, we should have close to 0 percent unemployment, since the wealthy have more money now than at any other time in our nation’s history. Before Ronald Reagan was elected, the top 1 percent earned 9 percent of our nation’s total income. By the end of George W. Bush’s presidency, the top 1 percent earned almost 25 percent of the total income while incomes for working-class males remained stagnant. When concern over 3M’s burning of out-of-state toxic waste in its Cottage Grove incinerator led to a debate over what to do, Rep. McNamara’s main focus in his appearances and campaign literature appears to be the $1-2 million 3M could save, while every other elected official in the area expressed concern over the health of the local citizens. The compromise solution called for the working-class citizens of Cottage Grove to pay $20,000 a year to monitor pollutants while 3M, whose CEO earns between $15-18 million, will post even higher profits. If citizens are tired of this upward redistribution of wealth at any cost, then they should vote for me.
Q: Are there any other comments you care to make?
A: I have a spine, and I’m not afraid to use it.