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State Representative - District 12A Candidate: Scott Dutcher, R

Running for State Representative - District 12A

Q: Please list your background and specific qualifications for this position.

A: My name is Scott Dutcher. My wife Tessa and I live in Brandon with our two boys, Jackson and Thomas. I am running for the Minnesota Legislature because I want to work to get our economy back on the right track.

I am the owner of a successful small business, so I know what it means to hire employees, meet a payroll, pay the rent, and still pay the mortgage and ensure food is on the table at the end of the day.

As a member of the Brandon City Council, I have established a strong record of lowering taxes and making smart spending decisions for the benefit of our citizens.

If I am elected, I will work tirelessly to secure the future for Western Minnesota's small businesses so that they can succeed and create new jobs. Too often, our best and brightest in Western Minnesota are drawn across the border to North Dakota and South Dakota or to the Twin Cities. To reverse that trend, we need to do better at creating good-paying jobs right here in Western Minnesota.

Q: The public is tired of the partisan politics that often bog down the work of the Legislature. Specifically, how will you work with legislators from the other political party to get things done?

A: The partisanship in Washington, D.C. and in St. Paul has truly gotten out of hand. It is not just that our elected officials are having a tough time finding common ground, they can't seem to be in the same room together!

That's ridiculous. Minnesota needs responsible, mature leaders who are willing and eager to reach across the aisle. We need to get back to a time when elected officials put aside their partisan affiliation and did what was best for the state of Minnesota.

Q: Many people saw significant increases in property taxes this year. If elected, what will you do to lower the property taxes for average/middle class home owners?

A: As a member of the Brandon City Council, I have established a strong track record of lowering property taxes. In 2011, I pushed for, and won, a 5 percent reduction to our city's tax levy. That was a huge win for our citizens.

Going forward, the best way to reduce the property tax burden in Western Minnesota is to refocus the Local Government Aid (LGA) program on Minnesota's small cities. LGA is a $400 million program designed to support our small cities so that we may provide essential services like police and fire protection. Unfortunately, even though LGA is meant for our small cities, more than $100 million is diverted every year to Minneapolis and St. Paul. By refocusing those funds on Minnesota's small cities, we could dramatically increase the support for our cities without adding any new costs to the state government.

If elected, I would fight for Western Minnesota's rural communities and our right to receive a larger share of LGA funds.

Q: Is the state taking the right approach to battling aquatic invasive species, such as zebra mussels? What more can be done?

A: I am not a biologist, so I do not think it would be responsible for me to speculate on the best answer to this difficult problem.

What I do want to explain is how I would approach this problem. As a legislator, one is often confronted with difficult and important problems outside of his or her field of expertise. So a person's decision-making process and judgment are important.

In confronting an issue like aquatic invasive species, my first step would be to assess the nature of the problem. I would ask questions like: What have other states done to slow the spread of zebra mussels? Was it effective? How long did those steps delay their spread? What would be the likely effect of zebra mussels on important industries like tourism? What are the potential costs related to the range of options available?

I would also consult with experts both in the biological field and in any potentially affected industries. In doing so, I would assess both the relevance of the expert's experience as well as his or her potential bias.

In the end, I would make a decision that I believed best for the people of Minnesota.

Q: What priority will you give to energy efficiency and renewable energies? What energy future do you envision for upcoming generations in Minnesota?

A: One of the dominant themes of the 21st century will be our nation's ability (or inability) to safely secure our energy future. As we stand today, we are at a crucial transition point in the history of energy. Whereas the 20th century was defined by the acquisition and exploitation of the world's oil reserves, our next 100 years will focus on technological advancements in natural gas, nuclear, geothermal, biofuels, wind, solar, and even tidal energy.

Before exploring the future for these varied energy sources, we must first understand just how central energy is to our society. From the moment we wake up, relatively inexpensive energy enriches our lives from our warm showers, to our electric coffee makers, to the gas in our cars.

To secure our nation's energy future, we must take an all-of-the-above approach to developing our resources. We must continue to explore new sources of oil while taking steps to prevent environmental disasters like the Deepwater Horizon leak. We must continue to make progress developing our nation's tremendous natural gas resources and consider approving new nuclear power plants in locations that are safe from earthquakes, tsunamis, and similar events. We must continue to encourage progress in developing renewable energies to the point where they may be able to compete against more traditional energy sources.

In all, there is much work to be done, but our energy future should be bright. With wise decisions made at the top, the days of $4 per gallon gasoline could soon be a thing of the past.