State Senator District 28 Miller vs. Krage

Jack Krage

Age: 61

Town: Winona

Family: Married to Sue; four children; three grandchildren.

Years in political office: Two years city Winona Plan Commission.


Why do you want to hold this office?

I have become increasingly disappointed in our state government, as have many voters. The Republican majority has taken a “my way or the highway” approach in dealing with many key issues. The budget dilemma was the most evident example of stonewalling the process to extend their agenda even though this meant a state government shutdown. They used state employees as hostages forcing Governor Dayton to sign a very unpopular budget. He did this so the state offices could reopen and workers could go back to work. This action of the republican party was a prime example of putting their own political agenda before the economic stability of numerous state employees.

Our school children were also victims of the hard-fisted negotiation. They saw the funding for the operation of their schools deferred in order to balance the budget. Rather than raise the taxes on those with earnings in the upper two percent, they opted to borrow from the schools. This is not responsible leadership.

In addition, we have seen the republican majority vote to eliminate the “Markey Value Homestead Credit,” rather than asking the wealthiest to pay their proportional share.

I am running for office because we need to change this stagnating matter of legislating. I have 28 years of negotiating between two parties in my real estate profession and vow to work accordingly to find common ground. The well-being of the citizens of District 28 depends on it.


What is your budgeting strategy in light of the fact that numerous state services are needed and relied upon, but money to provide such services is quite limited?

We need to look at ways to consolidate some of the areas of these departments in order to maintain the highest degree of service while reducing expenditures, at the same time. We should look at places where we can combine similar departments; thereby pooling certain job functions, such as receptionists and clerical staff. Agencies may be able to consolidate so they can provide needed services to a larger geographic region.

We must look at increasing the revenue statewide so that we are able to continue providing these vitally necessary services. We must look at increasing taxes on those that earn the largest income in order to bring their tax burden into proportion with their earnings as compared to those in the middle class. We need to seriously work toward creation of jobs and training those searching for work so they can qualify for the jobs that do arise.


What personal or professional experience can you draw from when making decisions for your constituency?

First of all, I was born on a dairy farm near Ridgeway, Minn. and have family members and friends still engaged in farming. I have a strong appreciation for the qualities of farm life and understand many of the issues that they are dealing with.

I have been a real estate agent for the last 28 years. During this time I have sold several farms, work land, recreational land, commercial property, as well as single and multi-family homes. This has given me a very good understanding of the economic situation throughout the district. I have seen rapid escalation of prices for homes and land and, at the same time, I have seen property values plummet during the last several years.

Over the last six years I have dealt with dozens of homes lost through foreclosure. The general theme is the homeowner lost their job and eventually fell behind in payments; thus, lost their home.

I have been a Lion for 18 years. During this time I served as district governor of a district that encompassed the southeastern eight counties of Minnesota. I have visited and spoken to every club in this district four to five times through the years. This has given me an appreciation for each community in District 28 and has made traveling through the district with my campaign even more enjoyable.

Sue and I owned a small art and craft business years ago and that gave us an understanding of the issues involved in such an endeavor. Unfortunately, we closed the business owing several thousand dollars. This caused quite a hardship for us for several years. We eventually were able to pay all debts and move forward. We were lucky that we never filed bankruptcy during this time. We learned how difficult it can be to try to survive while operating a small business.

Lastly, I came from a hardworking family with two brothers and two sisters. Being farm kids, we learned the value of hard work. Later, when Sue and I married, we were still attending Winona State University. We each worked two jobs in order to complete our degrees. Parents of four children, we again realize the struggle families face trying to make ends meet. It is these experiences that I feel best suit me to deal with the wide range of issues facing the state government each year.


Jeremy Miller

Age: 29

Town: Winona

Family: Married to Janel; eight-month-old son, Drew.

Years in political office: Two.


Why do you want to hold this office?

I’m running for a second term in the Minnesota Senate because of my desire to continue to work together with the people in southeastern Minnesota and colleagues on both sides of the aisle to take action, get results and make a difference.

My priorities are to work on policies that encourage job growth and economic development, ensuring our children are getting a world-class education in our public schools and promoting fiscal responsibility in state government. I will also continue to support veterans, senior citizens and our most vulnerable.


What is your budgeting strategy in light of the fact that numerous state services are needed and relied upon, but money to provide such services is quite limited?

When I was first elected two years ago our state was facing a projected budget deficit of over $6 billion, our cash flow and budget reserve accounts were empty and the state owed our schools $1.4 billion as a result of the 2010 school shift.

Today, our state is over $1 billion ahead of budget for the current biennium and as a result, our cash flow and budget reserve accounts are full and the state has started to pay back the money owed to our schools.

There is no question the state of Minnesota is in much better financial position today than two years ago. This is the result of being fiscally responsible, investing in reforms that are helping make our government more effective and efficient and promoting policies that encourage job growth and economic development. The best way provide additional revenue to the state and our local communities is to get more people working, which will result in more people paying state and local taxes.

What personal or professional experience can you draw from when making decisions for your constituency?

I serve as chief financial officer of Wm. Miller Scrap Iron & Metal Co., our family business that dates back to 1910. My two brothers and I are the fourth generation and we have 25 hard working employees. I do the accounting for the company as well as buying and selling of commodities. My wife and I also operate a small business.

I’m an active member of the community and currently volunteer with the Winona Family YMCA, Winona State University Warrior Club, Saint Mary’s University Athletic Advisory Board, Minnesota State College-Southeast Technical and the Winona Area Chamber of Commerce.

I’m also involved with the Morrie Miller Athletic Foundation, an organization that has been instrumental in supporting and sustaining youth athletics. This includes the Morrie Miller Youth Tackle Football League, which includes teams from Houston, Lewiston, Rushford/Peterson, Spring Grove and Winona.


If financing was not an issue, what state function would you change or improve?

Minnesota still has many transportation funding needs, specifically highway improvements and access to rural transit providers. We need to improve our farm-to-market system by increasing capacity and improving corridor safety. By issuing trunk highway bonds, the state can take advantage of historically low interest rates and competitive construction costs. Our ability to move people and goods is a critical component to rebuilding our economic competitiveness and strength.


Are you in favor or against the proposed constitutional amendment on marriage?

It’s important to know that state law already defines marriage between one man and one woman. The proposed constitutional marriage amendment would not change state law. The overwhelming majority of constituents I heard from on this issue felt that the people deserved an opportunity to vote on this important issue. One of the most common comments I received was, until we let the people vote, we won’t truly know where Minnesotans stand on the issue of marriage. Based on feedback from constituents, I supported giving people the opportunity to vote on the constitutional marriage amendment.


Are you for or against the constitutional amendment on voter ID?

I’ve heard concerns from several constituents about the integrity of our election process. I supported voter ID legislation in 2011 because it addressed the integrity issue that many constituents had concerns about. The voter ID legislation passed the legislature, but was vetoed by Governor Dayton. I voted against the voter ID constitutional amendment on the senate floor because I do not believe we should legislate through the constitution.


What did we not ask that you would like to address in 100 words or less?

It’s been an honor to represent the people of Fillmore, Houston and Winona Counties as a member of the Minnesota Senate. My philosophy is simple: Listen to the people and work together with colleagues on both sides of the aisle to take action, get results and make a difference.

As a result, we’ve been able to accomplish several great things for southeastern Minnesota. Those accomplishments include reforming the problematic Green Acres program, designating southeast Minnesota as a site for a new veterans cemetery, authorizing funding for the Greater Minnesota Business Development Public Infrastructure Grant Program and streamlining the permitting process.


If financing was not an issue, what state function would you change or improve?

First of all, I would initiate programs to enhance our state’s education system from preschool through college. Being a former teacher, I have a strong interest in education. Not so many years ago Minnesota stood at the forefront in the United States for our great strides in education. In recent years education has become a convenient area to reduce funds or even to borrow allocated funds from. On the collegiate level, funding has been reduced and tuitions have skyrocketed in the last 20 years. This needs to be curbed.

We need a greater emphasis on basic skills, such as reading, writing and math. We also need a semester or two of civics so that students can, once again, get a better grasp on the function and levels of government. Young people are too often graduating from high school without strong enough skills to cope with their day-to-day finances and communication. These decreased skills often limit the chance to get employment. We need to reduce class sizes so all children get a chance to have their needs met. On a more advance level, we need to concentrate on equipping our youth with advanced technology so they may be better capable to excel at the college or university level.


Are you in favor or against the proposed constitutional amendment on marriage?

Amendments normally extend or redefine rights of a citizen. This amendment, as well as the voter ID amendment, lessens certain individuals’ rights and privileges.

This issue is already established in state law. Because it has been put on the ballot as an amendment, it has been relegated to a secret ballot. The only difference is that since I am running for office you have asked me; however, your vote remains secret. There are two major issues involved in my decision:

Religious – Many religions are pressing their congregations to vote for the amendment. One such religion is the Catholic faith, and I am Catholic. A religion can marry only those couples that they elect to marry and to refuse the rite to others.

Constitutional – The constitution states that we are all equal under the law.

When I served as the Southeastern MN Association of Realtors President, I stood on stage with Governor Arnie Carlson, along with presidents of the other region associations and signed the VAMA agreement. This stands for the Voluntary Affirmative Marketing Agreement. This states that Realtors cannot discriminate against any individual for any of the nine protected classes. Familial status is one of them.

Because of this, I will keep my vote secret.


Are you for or against the constitutional amendment on voter ID?

I am against it. There are virtually no occurrences of reported voter fraud in Minnesota. This program will cost millions to implement. It will deny the opportunity to vote to some citizens that have rightfully voted for decades. This amendment will most affect elderly, students and minorities. This is the republican party’s attempt to wrestle control of the election through voter manipulation.


What did we not ask that you would like to address in 100 words or less?

I am running for Minnesota State Senate because I am opposed to the republicans insistence on protecting large corporations tax loopholes and refusal to raise the tax on the persons whose earnings are in the upper two percent. Rather, they have borrowed $2.4 billion from our schools, cut funding for colleges and universities, cut funding for nursing homes, cut rent credits and various human service programs.

I aim to work toward strengthening the middle class because a strong middle class means a robust economy. Once the economy improves, tax revenues will also increase.