Aug. 9 Primary-District 15 GOP Senate overview

Republican Primary

There will be a new senator representing the Princeton and Milaca areas brought on by the retirement of Senator Dave Brown (R-Becker).
Two candidates for Brown’s seat have emerged in the Republican Party: Andrew Mathews and Dan Whitcomb.
Mathews, of rural Milaca, is a political newcomer and the endorsed candidate of the local GOP party. Whitcomb, of Princeton,  is a former Mille Lacs County commissioner, Princeton School Board member, and mayor of Zimmerman. He unsuccessfully vied for the GOP endorsement and forced a primary by filing for the seat.
Mathews has worked retail and on the family farm. He attended Bible school and became a pastor of a small church. He most recently completed law school. He is a strong supporter of the U.S. Constitution anf the Second Amendment.
Whitcomb worked 22 years for NSP and Xcel Energy. He owns JQ Fruit Farm in Princeton and has been a leader with area farmers markets. He is a director with the Minnesota Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association and is co-founder and past president of the Minnesota Farmers Market Association. A Navy veteran and lifetime member of the VFW, Whitcomb is also a substitute teacher and firearms instructor.

Andrew Mathews
Andrew Mathews

Andrew Mathews

What qualities and experiences do you possess that make you the best choice to represent the citizens of Senate District 15?
I have lived here in the Princeton/Milaca area for almost 20 years, and I have followed the local issues and been involved here in the local community for a very long time.  Growing up I did everything from farm work to retail to family small businesses, I served the community as a pastor of a small church here in Milaca for several years, and I graduated debt-free from law school (with an emphasis in constitutional law).  Currently, my work is serving veterans as a federal veterans caseworker, helping when they are having problems receiving their proper care and benefits.
Running for elected office, and being an effective legislator, is all about relationships.  No single legislator ever has a magic wand that he or she can wave to instantly pass a law–you have to work together with 66 other senators and 134 representatives in St. Paul.  You have to be an effective communicator, influencer and persuader of your principles, and work together with others.  My past involvement in politics and government at the state capitol over four different sessions has given me personal relationships and friendships with numerous legislators on both sides of the aisle, and I know many of the other candidates running across the state this year.  I will be the best candidate to walk into the Senate on Day 1 with the groundwork already in place to work with other legislators to get things done for our district.
It is also important to look at the personal character and integrity of both the candidate, and the team that the candidate places around him or her.  Don’t elect a candidate looking for power, or who says one thing but does another, but elect one looking to serve you.

If elected to the Senate, what will your representational philosophy be, and what are your legislative priorities?
I’m a strong believer in the Constitution, and we need the government to run on track with our constitutional principles.  Government is supposed to be “of the people, by the people, and for the people”–not around the people, over the people, and despite the people.  The government is to serve the citizens, not the other way around.  The past few decades have brought about massive growth in government, and it now acts superior to you and I as citizens.  We need a limited government that fulfills its basic functions of public safety, education, roads and infrastructure, and providing a level playing field for businesses and entrepreneurial opportunity.
My priorities are to push for government to stay within in constitutional bounds, take back advanced rulemaking authority from unelected state agencies and bureaucrats, and work to reduce the crushing burdens of taxes and fees on low and middle income families, small businesses, and rural farmers.

What are one or two key policies of legislation you want to pursue for the 15th District in the next two years?
Transportation funding for our district will be a high priority.  Senate District 15 had projects in the transportation/bonding bill this past session that are desperately needed, particularly for an overpass in Benton county on Hwy. 10.  When the Senate DFL killed the bill in the final minutes of session, they decided to play politics ahead of serving the people of Minnesota.   The prospect of a special session this year to re-pass this bill is dimming, and if it doesn’t happen it will be a high priority for me next year.  Local officials are already talking to me about future transportation projects needed around Mille Lacs and Sherburne counties as well.
I’m also going to continue to fight for teacher standards based on results instead of tenure, and for more choices for education.  Studies consistently show that school choice produces better test scores in our kids for less money, and we need to empower parents to select whatever option is the best one their child’s needs.

Dan Whitcomb
Dan Whitcomb

Dan Whitcomb

What qualities and experiences do you possess that make you the best choice to represent the citizens of Senate District 15?
District 15 uniqueness resembles a three legged stool, it has an economy based on energy jobs, agriculture and tourism. I am the only candidate who has an intimate and extensive experience having worked in the energy industry for 26 years, own and operate a sustainable family farm business for 30 years and  I have been an avid outdoor sportsmen around Lake Mille Lacs my entire life.
I fully understand the issues that are important to our district having served as a local mayor, 10 years on the Princeton School board and as a Mille Lacs County Commissioner. I have listened, acted and solved many issues that citizens of the districts have bought to me as a local government representative. I have governed at the local level with common sense and demonstrated fiscal conservatism, experience I will take to St. Paul.

If elected to the Senate, what will your representational philosophy be, and what are your legislative priorities?
My representational philosophy will be to listen, have an open door policy for the constituents of my district and use a common sense simple approach to the issues that need to be addressed, strongly voice the important issues and needs of the district to the body of the legislative senate, and use a fiscal conservative approach to solve problems so that tax dollars are spent efficiently and do not overburden taxpayers and businesses. My legislative priorities are property tax relief for small businesses, farms and recreational property owners, economic development initiatives for Sherburne and Mille Lacs County, removing state income taxes on social security and military retirement pensions, protection of property and second amendment rights for individuals, and parental choice in education.

What are one or two key policies of legislation you want to pursue for the 15th District in the next two years?
Presently, my immediate concerns are the loss of energy jobs due to proposed shutdown of the Sherco coal fire power plants, the significant impact on district tourism due to poor management of the walleye fishing on Mille lacs Lake, and the increasing medical cost burdens placed on Minnesota citizens from the poor performance of the MNSURE exchange/Affordable Care Act program.
I plan to pursue a state policy that will focus on and allows the repowering of the Sherco energy site with a sustainable energy resource to re-establish valuable district energy jobs and to prevent escalating property tax in the district due to loss of industrial tax base.
Secondly, I plan to pursue a state policy to create an economic improvement incentive plan around Mille Lacs Lake that will address improved lake management, business tourism and also addresses the issues surrounding the Mille Lacs County and Mille Lacs Band of Ojibway relationship. This policy effort is needed to reduce the effect that decreasing property values around Mille Lacs Lake shifts the local property tax burden to taxpayers and businesses in the southern part of Mille Lacs County. This tax shift has a detrimental economic impact on the entire area.