On the ballot 2012: Cheryl Avenel-NavaraName: Cheryl Avenel-Navara Office sought: State House of Representatives District 22B City in which you reside: Worthington
Name: Cheryl Avenel-Navara
Office sought: State House of Representatives District 22B
City in which you reside: Worthington
Occupation: I retired in 2007 after 30+ years as a Counselor/faculty member at Minnesota West Community and Technical College. I am currently self-employed as a contractor for various organizations working on special projects.
Qualifications: I have no prior experience in elected political office. My biggest asset is that I care about people not only those in District 22B but all the citizens of Minnesota. I am a tireless worker for causes in which I believe. Over the years, my experiences with different groups and organizations have strengthened my most important skills: listening effectively, negotiating, compromising, teaching, and working as a team member. I am able to reach out to those who know more than I do on an issue, sift through the information provided, and come to an informed conclusion. I am an avid reader and do my homework on questions and issues. As a member of negotiation teams and a representative on joint labor management teams I have learned about the give and take in bargaining, and have had many opportunities to build on these skills. In addition I have an understanding of the importance of health insurance and retirement programs for all citizens.
What is your top priority and what ideas do you have to achieve them? Balancing the budget, restoring Minnesota as the “education state,” and increasing living wage jobs/employment opportunities are my top priorities. I believe that they are all interconnected.
We have to balance the budget without gimmicks and shifts. We are projected to have a $4 billion deficit when the Legislature convenes in January. I believe that we must put all sources of revenue to the state on the table (all those fees, licenses, and taxes —personal, corporate, sales, tobacco, alcohol, etc.). We then have to look at what we spend money on —education, health and human services, infrastructure, etc. We need to scrutinize all areas for inefficiency, redundancy and excess.
We also have to look at the suggestions from the InCommons and Bush Foundation bipartisan project on Redesigning government in light of the “new normal” of an aging population. This task force report will offer us a different perspective on services and needs (not just wants) and the priorities Minnesotans have. These recommendations have to be part of the mix. Then, we need to prioritize the various areas of the budget and make the hard decisions about allocating these scarce resources in a fair manner. We can’t just make cuts nor can we just raise revenue. We have to do both.
Once we have a balanced budget we can spend time on the other areas that are equally important —education and jobs. It is estimated that 70 percent of all jobs will soon require some type of post-secondary education (ranging from one year of technical training to post graduate degrees). Without a quality education (beginning at preschool and ending with post-secondary education or graduate/professional schools) we won’t be able to provide the educated work force that will be needed for the jobs that will become available in the next 4-10 years. I believe that we must fund preschool education for all children. It is imperative that children come to school prepared to learn. We should also find a way to fully fund all day/every day kindergarten. We have decided as a society that this is an important tool to give children the best start we can, so we should fund it. We have to stop inappropriate testing —comparing apples to oranges to plums. It is not fair to evaluate teachers based solely on test scores of different student groups. Evaluating them based on scores of tests given at the beginning of the term and the end of the term would be fairer, because then you could see the growth that the student made.
Without good-paying jobs, people won’t be able to purchase goods and services and move the economy forward so that the budget can continue to be balanced. The more that working people earn, the more they spend and the more that comes to the state budget in the form of income and sales taxes. The governor recently began a conversation with area business leaders on the needs they see for future economic development. I would advocate that these conversations continue with the goal of putting actions plans into place and developing new economic endeavors in the area.
What would I like to see accomplished while in office: I would like to see an end to partisanship politics during my term. I would like legislators to care about not only their district, but also the whole state, ALL the citizens. It should not be about making points with the party leaders. We have to end the polarization and pitting people against each other. Voters are tired of not seeing legislators doing what they say they will do and blaming the other party for the inaction. If we can’t work together for the good of the state and our citizens, then we shouldn’t be in office.
Additional comments: I have traveled to all parts of District 22B in the past five months. While I have not been in every town yet, I hope to be in all of them before the election. I am accessible and will be responsive and responsible to all the residents of District 22B if elected.