Brown, Murray face off in Distict 27A
Rich Murray knows his ideas won't be popular, should he be elected to the Minnesota House of Representatives in District 27A.
"I want to go up and actually make some changes and do some things," said the Albert Lea business owner and Republican candidate.
He's challenging incumbent Rep. Robin Brown, a DFLer who is seeking her third term.
The candidates agree the state budget is a priority, and both have spent a lot of time knocking on doors — at least 10,000 each during the campaign.
"I take such pride in door-knocking my district," Brown said, "so that I can actually stand there face-to-face at their doorstep and hear what their concerns are. I heard a lot of good suggestions at the door; there's a lot of common sense reasoning at the doors of the constituents of District 27."
What Murray heard, "over and over and over, is that the government is trying to do too much and is spending too much," he said. "Spending is totally out of control; our (state) budget is growing by leaps and bounds, but our personal budgets aren't growing."
His experience in the financial world is his strong point, he said.
"I understand numbers better than most," specifically, what's happening with the growth in pensions and benefits for government workers.
"I don't begrudge anybody getting a pension or getting a nice retirement," Murray said, "but we're letting these numbers get out of control. Government employees are able to retire a whole lot earlier than private sector employees are, and getting pretty good benefits when they do. We have to take a look at how rich we're making them and bring things a little bit more in line."
The idea, he said, is "not to take things away from people, but to make sure they're fair and equitable. Somebody has to step out and start saying something and doing something about it. I'm not anti-government, I'm pro-good government."
Brown believes she's an asset to the district in St. Paul.
"I'm a team player," she said. "I'm open to multiple opinions and multiple solutions. It takes a lot of voices and a lot of brains in the game.
"I don't have to be in charge, but I like to be a part of the process." Finding short- and long-term goals means "having a tax structure that's sustainable and fair to everybody, and pays for the priorities we have. I'm hoping part of the process is that our short-term decisions balance the budget this biennium will translate into long-term benefits for the state."
Those benefits include getting the education funding formula correct, Brown said, a guarantee that every child will be funded fairly and properly.
"The cost savings to getting that right are just enormous," she said, citing lower property taxes and crime rates.
"I think I can be a better voice for southern Minnesota," Murray said. "I can be fiscally smart, and still be a caring person. I'm the reform candidate. We can do better; we have to do better. The status quo is no longer good enough."
Brown said she understands the people she represents and has a strong sense of duty to them. Her past speaks for itself, she said.
"I've been faithful to my family and to my district," Brown said. "I've done everything I said I would do, and my votes show that. I've always been honored to serve in the Minnesota House of Representatives."