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Letter: Candidate will 'focus on the people's work'

Minnesota is famous for its clean lakes and its clean politics. But the shine came off our political reputation when state government was shut down by partisan politics in 2005. I want to serve as your state legislator because I believe I can help restore civility and common sense in St. Paul.

In 1857 Minnesota's first Speaker of the House, John Watrous, told his fellow legislators, "Our time here should be devoted to some useful purpose" and that their "actions should be directed to the attainment of some good." No one can say that our current legislature, under the leadership of either party, has taken Watrous' advice.

The people of Minnesota expect their elected representatives to focus on the people's work and not party politics. No one expects an end to partisanship, after all the two parties hold different ideas on what is best for Minnesota, and on how to get there. But legislators from both parties should listen to each other, take ideas from each other, and combine the best of both approaches into common sense legislation. Government only works with compromise. A "win-lose" mentality always ends in "lose-lose."

Some say that compromise means sacrificing principles. I don't accept that. I usually find points of agreement with people I disagree with. If I can't, I know that I have to bend a little if I expect others to bend. This is heart of compromise.

Compromise requires trust. Trust requires respect. You have to know people to earn their respect. These days our legislators are so divided by parties they don't get to know each other. My legislative reform plan includes assigning legislative offices by committee assignment instead of political party. This will help legislators work together on the bills for which they share expertise and responsibility. It will encourage them to get to know each other and will reduce the pull of the political parties.

We can reduce the cost of our legislature by reducing the number of committees. Right now, each legislative topic has a policy committee and a funding committee. There is no good reason for this. The policy and funding plans can be developed together by the same committee. Reducing the number of bills a legislator can introduce as primary author should be limited. This will reduce costs and minimize political grandstanding.

Minnesota has a tradition of open government. The worst offenses against this tradition occur at the end of legislative sessions when secret deals are cut in conference committees and with the governor. Joint House and Senate committees for omnibus spending bills will eliminate conference committees for these important bills. Copies of bills must be available before hearings to ensure the public has opportunity for input.

With principled leadership in St. Paul we can turn things around. We can restore Minnesota's reputation as "the state that works." This is why I am asking for your vote on Nov. 4.

Richard Peterson

Distict 22B Candidate

DFL-Mountain Lake