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Minnesota House of Representatives District 54B candidate: Don Slaten

Name: Don Slaten

Party: DFL

Age: 65

City: Hastings

Occupation: Retired machinist, Metropolitan Council Environmental Services

Education: Prescott High School; U.S. Navy; St. Paul Technical College

Family: One son, one grandson

Civic involvement: Hastings Planning Commission; adjutant of VFW Post 9060; former member of VFW Post 8752; American Legion Post 47; Food with Friends; Little Raiders football coach; Cub Scout pack leader; youth baseball coach (for son and grandson’s teams); Denmark Township Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors; Washington County Planning Commission.

Q: Why should voters choose you over your opponent?

A: I am aware of our district’s needs and issues as I have served on the Washington County Planning Commission, the Denmark Township Board and currently serve on the Hastings Planning Commission. In addition, since April 15, 2016, I have gone through three pairs of shoes door-knocking in our district to learn about the cares and concerns of our constituents. Through my experience on these commissions and months of speaking with our community, I have insight into district priorities.

Our district’s number one issue is water quality. Many of our rural residents use only bottled water due to high levels of chemicals in the water. I worked in the wastewater industry for 30 years and dealt with equipment and water issues both as safety committee chairman and member of the plant coordinating committee.

Education is a concern for everyone. Good schools are related to home values; issues with educational funding on the state level have led to property tax increases. More importantly, we are duty bound to provide a good education for the next generation. Education is how we guarantee our kids the best start and the best opportunities.

Growing and creating jobs in our communities is important. We need the economy to work for everyone who is willing to work, not just the wealthy. Those of us who work hard to make a living also should be able to make a good life for ourselves and our families.

Q: Do you believe additional funding is needed for transportation projects? If so, what specific revenue source(s) do you support and how should new transportation funding be spent?

A: We need to maintain our roads and bridges. I believe transportation needs a dedicated revenue source. I support any reasonable funding source, including gas tax and license plate fees, which were cut by two-thirds under former Gov. Jesse Ventura. I was disappointed when the Minnesota House passed on $850,000,000 of federal funds by failing to allocate $150,000,000 from the state surplus. Instead, the Republican House favored tax breaks for the top 3 percent.

Q: If the state is projected to have a budget surplus, what would you do with that revenue?

A: If we are fortunate enough to have a surplus, I would lower property taxes for farmers; our farmers are feeling the pinch due to falling commodity prices. I would pay down the debt so we save needless interest payments. I would support educational funding for smaller class sizes and pre-K. I would support greater funding for broadband for out-state Minnesota, which is an issue in parts of our district.

Q: If the state is projected to have a budget deficit, how would you propose the budget be balanced — spending cuts, tax/revenue increases or a combination of the two?

A: If the state has a deficit, just like your own home budget, needs, not wants, must be better prioritized. We need to maintain the infrastructure we have and use every day — many new projects can wait.

Q: What would you do to reduce partisanship in the Minnesota Legislature?

A: Most people are less interested in politics and more interested in the policies that affect them. Political gridlock serves no one and irritates everyone. The far left and the far right are pulling the center apart. No matter which side of the political coin you are on, we have more in common than we don’t. I will work to find the middle for the greater good for our children, our families, our district and our state.