The ballot for today's elections in Brown County and southern Minnesota is packed with races that could impact state and federal politics.
New Ulm City Council
Three races pit newcomers against incumbents. Joel Boehlke is challenging Ruth Ann Webster for Ward 1, Chuck Hanson is challenging Les Schultz for Ward 3 and Ron Larsen is challenging Charles Schmitz for Councilor at Large.
One issue is the Council's recent decision to approve pay raises for its members. The other major focus is declining funding from the State while trying to grow jobs and keep young couples from leaving town. Minor topics of debate are the suggestion to build an outdoor water park despite limited funding and how the Council should handle interactions with citizens.
Under reapportionment, House District 16B retained nearly all of Brown County. The most significant change was the elimination of a sliver of Watonwan County, which forced incumbent Republican Rep. Paul Torkelson to move into the newly drawn district if he wished to run again.
Torkelson faces DFL candidate James Kanne and New Ulm resident Jerry Pagel, who is running without any party affiliation.
Senate District 16 has been expanded extensively westward. Republican incumbent Sen. Gary Dahms faces DFL challenger Ted Suss.
DFL challengers to Torkelson and Dahms are targeting them over the state government shutdown, the school funding shift and the consequences of ending the Homestead Credit tax program. Torkelson and Dahms say they reined in the state deficit without raising taxes and removed burdensome regulations from many businesses.
Pagel says both political parties have become too partisan to get things done from average Minnesotans.
1st Congressional District
Republican Allen Quist, a farmer and former state legislator, is seeking to unseat DFL incumbent Rep. Tim Walz. Quist said there is a possibility that he would drop out of politics if he loses this race.
Quist has mitigated a fundraising deficit by self-financing $490,000 of his own money for the campaign. He said he would raise $1 million for the race, and that he would personally cover the amount not raised through contributions. His campaign reported over $560,000 raised for the election up to Oct. 17 and only $57,000 in over $1,000 contributions since that time.
Quist said he can balance the budget without raising taxes and without changes to programs like Medicare and Social Security. Walz has favored a mixed approach of taxes on the top earners and targeted budget cuts.
(Josh Moniz can be e-mailed at firstname.lastname@example.org)