On Saturday (10/20) I received what is probably the 6th or 7th mailing from outside sources that are stretching the truth, to say the least. As a resident of district 48-A, I have a choice between Kirk Stensrud (R) and Yvonne Selcer (D) to represent me in the Minnesota House. Large, full color mailings in favor of Stensrud have been pouring in. First, it was all the great things that he has done over the past 2 years in St. Paul- I was astonished to learn that this man was responsible for not only solving our budget issues, but that he also brought the state into a surplus of $1 billion!
Then, the attack ads against Ms. Selcer started. The most recent have claimed that she has been raising taxes her entire career (to my knowledge, she has only served 8 years on the Hopkins School Board) and that she drove our school district into debt. The ad, from the Coalition of MN Businesses, even cites sources. So I decided to check those sources. And what I found is very enlightening, because none of it backs their claims that Selcer raised our property taxes or drove our district into debt.
In fact, the URL they provided shows a school board which was VERY fiscally conservative. They had made cuts in many expenditures over the past year and have a healthy budget balance. There was one chart that made it look like our taxes had gone up dramatically, but the small print explained that the state required that future monies from a voter-passed referendum was required to be included in the year it passed. I have lived in this district for almost 20 years, and I have never had reason to feel that my property taxes had been raised excessively by any of the taxing powers- not Hennepin County, not the City of Minnetonka, and certainly not the Hopkins School District! During the eight years that Pawlenty was cutting state aid to local governments, my local agencies tightened belts and did their best not to raise taxes excessively, although increases were necessary to make up for the lost revenue from the state.
The bottom line is that outside interests are attempting to affect the outcome of our local election. I hope that EVERYONE looks at these mailings very carefully. Check who is paying for it and ask WHY these outsiders should care about who we choose to represent us. Check the facts. Anyone who remembers studying propaganda in Civics should recognize when someone is clearly trying to use hypebole and fear to access our emotions. Notice how "evil" they depict Ms. Selcer. Come on! If you can have a smiling Stensrud in full color on one side, why use a small, dark, black and white image of Selcer scowling on the other?
Another misleading issue is that Selcer drove our school district into debt. As a Hopkins teacher, I know that the reason the district went into SOD had NOTHING to do with the school board and everything to do with actions and decisions at the administrative level. The school board DISCOVERED the problem, and turned around that crisis in record time. Yvonne Selcer was part of the solution, not the cause. And to tie increased property taxes into "job killing" is ridiculous! The only jobs killed were those eliminated to bring the budget back into the black. A tax increase in that case would have, in fact, saved jobs or even possibly created MORE jobs!
I must admit I have a bias in this election- Mr. Stensrud has not represented me and my neighbors over the past two years, he has followed the party leaders in lockstep. Don't forget what has happened to Republican representatives who strayed from the party line and voted in the best interests of their constituents. Each one was ostrasized from the party and were voted out during the primary process. I have tried to contact Stensrud several times over the past two years to voice my opinion. He has not been responsive and in fact, he has not even responded many times. During the government shutdown, forced by the intransient legislature, Stensrud continued to take his salary. This while those state workers at the front lines went without pay, and many families were locked out of state parks.
My plea to my fellow voters is to take any information mailed to you with a grain of salt. Do your research at non-biased websites. Go to the candidates websites and read their positions on issues that concern you. Don't accept generalities, ask for specifics, especially from an incumbent. Look at voting records. Contact the candidates and ask the questions important to you. Look at who has endorsed each candidate. In Ms. Selcer's case, she has been endorsed by not only the DFL and prominant politicians such as Amy Klobachar, but also by independents and Republicans- Karen Anderson, the former mayor of Minnetonka, is part of her campaign committee and she has the backing of Peter Hutchinson, the most recent independent candidate for governor. When she says she can "reach across the aisle", these prominent polititians are saying "yes she can."