District 32B: Rick Olseen
Two years ago, this page backed Republican Bob Barrett, 45, on the strength of the budgeting skill and knowledge of human foibles he has acquired in a career in financial management and marketing at the Hazelden Foundation.
Those skills still commend him. But Barrett disappointed us when he locked himself into a "no new taxes" pledge in 2010, thereby excluding himself from bipartisan dealmaking on fiscal matters. He says he considers the pledge a one-term commitment, and would not be so confined in 2013.
That's encouraging. But there's less reason to wonder whether his DFL opponent, Rick Olseen, can compromise. The 56-year-old trucking service representative learned how to build consensus during four years as Chisago County commissioner and 10 years on the North Branch School Board, both nonpartisan offices. He also served one term in the state Senate, working with Republicans on tax policy matters affecting farmland owners and veterans.
Olseen is campaigning on a vow to revive the market value homestead credit that Barrett and other Republicans voted in 2010 to eliminate. We think he overstates the role that change played in the property tax spike his district witnessed this year. It's worth noting that in 2007, Olseen himself voted for a four-year phase-out of the credit as part of that year's omnibus tax bill, which was vetoed.
Still, Olseen's willingness to reach across the aisle to rebalance state and local taxes would serve his district and Minnesota well.
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District 36A: Mark Uglem
Mark Uglem, 61, has two successful careers to his credit, one in business, the other as mayor of Champlin since 2006. He co-founded one paint company, started a manufacturing division for another, retired from Hirshfield's as an executive vice president -- and won his second term as mayor in 2010 with 70 percent of the vote. As mayor, he has focused on economic development and kept a lid on property taxes.
That resume and Uglem's vow to be a problem-solver in the state House win the Republican our nod over an appealing DFL up-and-comer, Grace Baltich, 35.
Baltich's poise and thoughtful positions on issues made this a difficult choice. Her stance on a host of issues is closer than Uglem's to that of this newspaper. Her family's commitment to public service (her mother, Joan Molenaar, served eight years on the Champlin City Council) and the skills she has acquired as a professional mediator and social worker would be assets in the House. Her emphasis on problem-solving through bipartisan collaboration is well placed.
But, narrowly, Uglem's experience bests Baltich's promise. We hope to see Baltich in another elective office one day soon.
To read more of the Editorial Board's endorsements, go here.