District 37A: Shelley Madore

Western Apple Valley and southeastern Burnsville sent the Minnesota House a passionate voice for health care reform when it elected DFLer Shelley Madore in 2006. They should send her to St. Paul again this year.

While this newspaper does not share Madore’s zeal for a single-payer approach, we admire her well-informed advocacy for health insurance that’s portable and accessible to all. She contributes well to the continuing debate about how best to improve Minnesotans’ health while containing costs.

Madore, 46, is an active legislator with a long record of community involvement. At the Legislature, she worked to increase transit funding and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

But her strong suit is health care. Madore draws from expertise gained as a lobbyist for the disabled and the mother of two special-needs children. She offers intriguing ideas for cutting waste in taxpayer-funded health programs, even as insurance coverage is extended to more Minnesotans.

Her GOP challenger, Tara Mack, is a personable 25-year-old House GOP staff member whose conservative views seem to spring directly from her party’s talking points. Mack’s youth suggests that she has ample time to gain more real-world experience and seek elective office another day.

District 37B: Phillip Sterner

Phillip Sterner, a Rosemount City Council member, insurance agency owner and busy community volunteer, is exactly the kind of legislator the developing Rosemount-Apple Valley area needs. He gets our strong endorsement.

A DFL centrist, Sterner, 48, is likable, knowledgeable and pragmatic. His approach to issues and public service make him a worthy successor to retiring Rep. Dennis Ozment, a 12-term Republican who was respected by colleagues for his bipartisan leadership.

Sterner would fit in with an emerging breed of legislators who aim to renew Minnesota’s tradition of bipartisan, can-do lawmaking. He’s a business-friendly candidate who wants to spur economic development, bring “green” jobs to Minnesota and form partnerships with business in reducing health care costs. He says he’ll resist any tax increases next session.

His moderate views stand in marked contrast with those of Judy Lindsay, 51, his Republican opponent. She earned a reputation as an extremist during more than eight years on the District 196 school board. She called for teaching creationsim alongside evolution and started a nonprofit foundation, In Defense of Innocence, to keep teaching about homosexuality out of schools.

A polarizing figure in her own party, Lindsay ran unsuccessfully against Ozment in a 2002 primary. Her notion of dealing with a looming 2009 state budget shortfall by looking at across-the-board cuts is neither workable nor thoughtful.

District 38A: Diane Anderson

The choice isn’t as clear in the district that straddles the Burnsville and Eagan city line. Neither first-term DFL Rep. Sandy Masin, a former Eagan City Council member, nor Republican Diane Anderson, a mediation professional and family law lobbyist, exhibit solid command of the issues the next Legislature will face.

Narrowly, we prefer the 48-year-old Anderson. She would bring to the office a background suited to the times. Her University of Minnesota degree was in housing; she spent eight years as a mortgage banker. Her experience as a professional mediator lends credibilty to her stated desire to be a bipartisan player at the Capitol.

Anderson will find it difficult to reconcile her impulse to rein in government spending with her desire for stronger schools and improved infrastructure. She’ll have a lot of learning to do if she’s elected, but she seems up to the task.

Masin, 65, has views more consistent with those of this newspaper. But she was among the least active members of the House DFL majority last year, in terms of bills introduced, legislation signed into law and participation in debates.

She has to her credit the establishment of a task force to hasten the arrival of ultra-high-speed broadband service throughout Minnesota, which will be important to businesses in her district. Yet it’s telling that the Dakota County Regional Chamber of Commerce gave its endorsement to Anderson.