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State candidates meet at forum

WORTHINGTON -- With the election less than a week away, District 22A Rep. Doug Magnus, R-Slayton, and District 22B Rep. Rod Hamilton -- along with opponents Mike McCarvel and Richard Peterson, participated in an open forum at the Worthington High School Media Center -- taking a last opportunity locally to get their message out.

Sponsored by the Worthington Area Chamber of Commerce and hosted by Darrell Stitt, the four candidates each opened by giving a brief rundown of the qualities and abilities they believe make them worthy of election.

Hamilton said he has appreciated the opportunity to serve the last four years, adding he has made friends and even a few enemies along the way.

"You have to fight hard for your district because no one else will," Hamilton asserted. "For the last four years I have done what I said I would do ... I have looked for your input."

Several times during the forum, Hamilton mentioned his passion for the area, and said his strength is understanding what his weaknesses are.

Peterson, who described himself as a family farmer from Jackson County, spoke of his high work ethics and good Christian values. The issues he considers important, he said, are education and health care.

"There has been enough bickering and finger pointing at the state capital," he stated. "It is time to reorganize, reform state legislation."

McCarvel, who is involved in many local activities, said he is concerned about education, which he described as a "crucial factor we have to deal with." A part of that concern is the partial funding of all-day, every-day kindergarten. His primary reason for running, he stated, is his belief in the importance of giving back to a community what you have gained from it.

Magnus, who is finishing his sixth year and third term in the House, said his tenure has been interesting, citing the $4.5 billion budget shortfall when he arrived and the $2 billion surplus two years ago.

"But now we are facing problems again," he said. "There is so much uncertainty that people don't know where to turn."

His experience in working with the Senate, the governor's staff and state agencies helps him be a better legislator each year, he added.

"And you won't find any less partisan legislators than Rod Hamilton and I," he said.

The candidates were asked about several subjects, including a possible large state budget deficit, how they felt about voting opposite their party, creating jobs and local government aid.

Regarding a deficit, Peterson stated he "was not going to tax the middle class," but would need to find revenue and do some cutting. There are a lot of corporate loopholes, he said, that can be fixed.

Magnus brought up the change from a $4.5 billion deficit to a $2 billion surplus, but said spending has increased 10 percent.

"We've got a little bit of a spending problem," he admitted.

McCarvel said a huge deficit has been a consistent problem with the Minnesota legislature, which he believes was never fixed. Gimmicks were used, he stated, which have back to haunt us.

"We need to be careful," Hamilton cautioned. "There are businesses and people struggling -- to increase taxes in these tumultuous times is not the right thing to do."

While discussing education, both Hamilton and Magnus expressed a need for better equalization of funding. Hamilton said the lack of fair and equitable funding angers him -- that the "huge disparities' need to be addressed.

"My opponent has talked about fair and equal funding for four years but has never changed it," Peterson stated.

McCarvel said one of the reasons for the higher funding in the metro area is the amount of special education students that needs to be dealt with.

"I know there are discrepancies, but aspects enter into it," McCarvel said, citing the special ed costs. "They have to provide quality education for those people."

"Don't drink the Kool-Aid," Hamilton responded. "The discrepancies are very real. They have enough voices in Minneapolis and St. Paul. They don't need more down here."

"But if we keep bickering and fighting," Peterson shot back, "we get nothing accomplished."

All four candidates swore they represent the people and not a party, and would follow the views and wishes of people they represent over a party.