Minnesota House 16A candidates: Chris Swedzinski
Why are you running for state representative?
As someone who was born and raised right here in District 16A, I am concerned about the path our state is on and how the decisions made in St. Paul impact us locally. I am running for re-election because our rural economy is in a fragile recovery after our state was shut down in response to COVID-19, and we need leaders with a common-sense, conservative approach to state government.
From your perspective, what is the role of a state representative?
My job as a state representative is to uphold the interests of District 16A residents. This starts by listening to constituents, hearing all sides of any given issue and, in the end, choosing courses of action that best benefit our district. This includes achieving greater equity in education funding, where the last K-12 finance bill which Democrats approved only widened the funding disparity between Greater Minnesota and the metro area, putting us at a further disadvantage. I will continue working to advocate for our region to give us a fair shake against fiscal priorities that favor the metro-centric agenda.
What will be your approach to balancing the next two-year state budget in terms of reducing spending and/or raising taxes and fees?
Our government needs to right-size itself because it is simply too large for taxpayers to support. We should streamline cumbersome state bureaucracy and eliminate redundancies. The best thing we can do for our bottom line is re-open our economy and let people get back to work instead of being handcuffed by inconsistent and arbitrary mandates from the governor. On the other hand, House Democrats and Governor Walz proposed more than $12 billion in tax increases in their 2019 budget, making gas, healthcare, and everyday goods and services more expensive for Minnesota families that already are overtaxed.
How would you work to collaborate with local units of government?
Our system of government works best when the various layers collaborate to achieve our goals. I am proud of my record on teaming up with our local units of government. This includes bills I have authored to exempt local school districts, cities and counties from paying state sales taxes on construction projects. One such bill I authored helped save taxpayers around $150,000 for a project the Minneota school district recently completed. This kind of inter-governmental collaboration allows us to achieve greater efficiency, maximize our tax dollars and deliver results for District 16A residents.
How as a state representative would you work to promote economic development?
Our economic health relies on developing a strong private sector. I will continue partnering with employers to help them find solutions to drive our economic resurgence. I also will fight to cut and reform taxes, reduce regulations that prevent job growth. Greater Minnesota’s workforce shortage is one of the greatest challenges we face. We must ensure our institutions of higher education are regionally relevant in regard to matching training with the jobs that are available in their respective areas. I have worked diligently with Minnesota West CTC and Southwest Minnesota State University on agricultural programming that has proven successful.
If you are elected, what would your top priority be for the 2021 state legislative session?
My top priorities for the 2021 session are to re-open our economy, eliminate our state’s projected shortfall, provide tax relief and reduce state regulations that are crushing our cities, towns and businesses in Minnesota. Also, our law enforcement officers face extraordinary challenges to-day and I am proud to support them as we work to resolve difficult issues. I am committed to productive and thoughtful conversations that will unite legislators, emergency responders and citizens in an effort to improve accountability and transparency in our criminal justice system and help ensure all Minnesotans are treated with dignity and respect.
How do you grade the state government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic?
While we all share the common goal of protecting the health and safety of Minnesotans, we also need to re-open Minnesota’s economy. The governor’s extended shutdown has crippled businesses and turned a sizeable state surplus into a multi-billion-dollar shortfall. We also could have saved many lives by preventing the governor from moving people with COVID-19 into long-term care facilities. Unfortunately, the House majority has been unwilling to check the governor’s powers and participate in the decision-making pro-cess. It is time to restore the legislature as the third co-equal branch of government that it is instead of living under unilateral rule.
Other than the topics already addressed, what, from your perspective, is the biggest issue facing the State of Minnesota, and how would you work to resolve it?
Studies show Minnesota’s achievement gap is among the worst in the entire nation and that disparities are evident across race, ethnicity and socioeconomic status. I am working on solutions to this problem, including authoring H.F. 3790, which extends tax credits to individuals and businesses who make donations to fund K-12 scholarships. The expanded scholarship availability would provide low-income children with opportunities to explore new educational choices that currently may be unattainable to them.
Why should people vote for you?
I am committed to increasing opportunities for workers to enjoy good jobs that will help to grow Southwestern Minnesota. As a farmer, family man and District 16A native, I am proud to work in and participate in our local economy. I am invested in helping our region become an even better place to live, work, go to school and raise a family.
Please provide a brief bio of yourself.
I farm between Taunton and Porter and own a small welding business near Ghent where I live with my wife and five children. Agriculture is the lifeblood of our state’s economy and I am proud to be among the few remaining family farmers serving in the Minnesota House. It is an honor to represent the hardworking people of southwest Minnesota in the state legislature.