NEW ULM A New Ulm man will be running for Minnesota House District 16B with a novel approach: he will run without a political party affiliation and without accepting any campaign contributions.
Jerry Pagel said he's running because he believes partisan politics resulting from extremism by both major political parties have crippled state government.
"I get so frustrated with the far left and the far right. I don't know anybody that is that far out there politically," said Pagel, "If we don't start caring about what's happening, we'll be doomed to the whims of those that did."
He said he plans to operate outside of the system he considers broken. He plans to use personal finances to travel the district, which consists of Brown County, most of Redwood County and a small portion of Renville County. He said he won't take out any campaign ads, expect for a few buttons he will distribute. He said he wouldn't stop a supporter from running ads in his support. He said his tour will focus on speaking with newspapers and holding meet-and-greets.
Pagel has lived in New Ulm for most of his life. He graduated from New Ulm Public High School in 1966 and went to college at Minnesota State University - Minnesota. He left before he earned his degree to enlist in the U.S. Marine Corps in August of 1968. He was discharged in February of 1969 due to an injury not related to combat. He worked as computer operator for 3M in New Ulm. He also worked at various car dealerships for many years before taking over his own Ford-Lincoln-Mercury dealership, which became Chuck Spaeth Ford when he sold it when he retired. He also earned a Series 7 Securities License when he worked at State Bond and Mortgage. He helped start up the local Pike Driving School, which he still volunteers with. He and wife Linda have been married for 39 years, and he has four sons.
Staff photo by Josh Moniz
Jerry Pagel of New Ulm plans to run for Minnesota House District 16B without a political party affiliation and without accepting any campaign contributions.
Pagel has no prior political experience, but he touts his 33 years of volunteer experience. In New Ulm, he has served on the Park and Recreation Commission, the Safety Commission and the Police Commission. He has also served on the state School Bus Safety Advisory Committee under former Gov. Arne Carlson. He said he volunteered because he considers it a civic duty of U.S. citizens.
Platform and Positions
Pagel said his campaign platforms will focus on improving Highway 14, improving education practices, improving the state business climate and making health care more affordable to all citizens.
"My pet peeve is Highway 14. I know how bad it is because of my experience while teaching new drivers," said Pagel.
Highway 14 has become known as one of the most dangerous highways in Minnesota in recent years because it has double the state's average fatality rate. Cities in the region have pushed hard to have the two-lane segments between New Ulm and North Mankato and between Owatonna and Dodge Center expanded into a four-lane highway. But recent concerns have been that the expansion will not be included in MnDOT's 20-year construction plan.
Pagel said he finds the possibility of Highway 14 not being included unacceptable. He said that, if he is elected, he would present legislation to address the issue within one week of taking office.
On education, he said he supports eliminating teacher tenure to improve efficiency. On health care, he said he opposes the Affordable Care Act on the basis of it being the responsibility of the states. But, he said he considers health care being difficult for most families to afford as unacceptable.
With social issues, Pagel said he is either a very conservative liberal or a very liberal conservative. He said he is a strong opponent of abortion. He said he believes homosexuality isn't a choice and that same-sex marriage should not be prohibited by the government.
"They are nice people that pay taxes like the rest of us. I don't believe it's a choice. I can't think of one single reason somebody would willfully join one of the most picked on groups in the world," said Pagel, "I feel they're being unfairly penalized by society."
On other miscellaneous issues, he said he considers the construction of a new Vikings stadium a priority, but considers any expansion of gambling in Minnesota unacceptable.
He said he opposes efforts to reduce the power of unions, especially the "right to work" legislation going through the Capitol. He said unions are responsible for many of the benefits a modern worker enjoys and are responsible for ending various problems, like child labor.
Pagel said that if he's elected, he will focus his work on building a consensus when passing a law. He said he feel it's a politician's duty to try to meet halfway with the opposing party.
He said he's running to help the people of his community and to improve the political process for Minnesota.
"I'm certainly not planning on being a career politician. I have better things to do [with my life]. But, if you see things go this far south and you don't do anything, you're doing the wrong thing," said Pagel.
(Josh Moniz can be e-mailed at firstname.lastname@example.org)