Profile: David Senjem - Minnesota Senate District 25
Education:Graduate of Hayfield High School, bachelor of arts from Luther College.
Occupation:Retired Mayo Clinic environmental affairs coordinator.
Political experience:Elected to Minnesota Senate in 2002; former Senate majority leader and Senate minority leader; former Rochester City Council member; former Rochester Park Board member; former Minnesota Emergency Response Commission chairman; and former Minnesota OSHA Advisory Board member.
Community involvement:Mayo Clinic Credit Union Board chairman; Rochester "76" Lions Club; Boy Scouts of America scoutmaster; Rochester Youth Baseball Association coach; Olmsted County Safety Council; High Noon Toastmasters; board of directors, Rochester Area Chamber of Commerce; Soldiers Field Veterans Memorial Committee (founding member); Rochester Art Center board member; Northland Children's Oncology House (Ronald McDonald House) president; Olmsted County Historical Society trustee; Junior Achievement of Rochester president; American Red Cross board member; fund drive chairman, Rochester School District No. 535, Levy Referendum Committee; co-chairman, Rochester School Districts No. 535 Levy Referendum Committee; and involved with many other organizations.
Endorsements:Minnesota Chamber of Commerce, Minnesota AFL-CIO, International Operating Engineering Local 49, Regional Council of Carpenters, Painters and Allied Trades District 82,
Minnesota Farm Bureau PAC and National Federation of Independent Businesses.
What would be your top three priorities?
1. Mental health resources
2. U.S. Highway 14 completion
3. Health care insurance costs
What should be done to help end the legislative gridlock in St. Paul?
The Legislature cannot and will not end so-called legislative gridlock by enacting a new rule or procedure. It is much more complicated than that, and legislative rules can be ignored or suspended. Avoiding gridlock is not only a major responsibility of legislative leadership but the major responsibility. Members not part of legislative leadership from both parties and the public must keep the feet of legislative leadership to the fire in their demands for common agreement.
What is the biggest challenge facing greater Minnesota?
Declining population, resulting in less commercial/industrial tax base, which, in turn, results in more and more difficulty for cities, counties and school districts to adequately fund their basic governmental obligations. This, in turn, places too much reliance on the agricultural property tax to carry the financial load. Building strong rural economies is essential, and this is what Southeast Minnesota's "Journey to Growth" and "Destination Medical Center" are striving to do.
What should be done to address the state's long-term transportation needs?
When the Minnesota Transportation Alliance and certain legislators say we need "sustainable funding," that means a 30-cent-per-gallon gas tax on top of the current 28.5 cent tax. The Legislature is not going to more than double the gas tax. However, their options such as using a portion of existing sales tax, a portion of the state's budget surplus, bonding and a modest gas tax increase could make a nice dent in transportation infrastructure needs.