Political guest column: Poppe: A resume of success at the Capitol

Published 6:30 am Saturday, October 24, 2020

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It has been my great honor and deep privilege to represent constituents of MN House District 27B for the past 16 years. Every two years, the state representative term is set to expire, which means my job resume gets examined and the voters of our legislative district decide whether or not to vote for me to continue for an additional two year term.  I have had the opportunity to receive a majority of votes through eight House elections.

There is no prouder feeling than knowing voters have considered options and cast their ballots in support. I once again come before you with my job resume and ask for your vote this year.

With the outcome of the 2018 election, the DFL took control of the MN House and with that, the leadership of the House and the chairmanships of committees. My previous role as minority lead on the House Ag finance committee put me on track to serve as the committee chair of the MN House Ag and Food finance and policy division. I was extremely pleased to be offered this role as it suits our district quite well to have a local legislator in this leadership position.

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I grew up on a small farm near Houston, MN and have been a strong advocate for our farmers and producers all over the state. This year again, I am honored to be endorsed by the political action committees of the Minnesota Farm Bureau Federation and the MN Farmers Union. Our state demographics are changing, fewer people come to the legislature from “farm country”. There are more urban and suburban representatives than there are rural members. After redistricting in 2022 (done every ten years after completion of the census), the numbers are expected to skew further between rural MN and the more heavily populated “urban” centers. For those of us from Greater Minnesota, our voices need to be stronger and louder, no matter which side of the aisle you are on.

As a DFLer in the majority caucus, my voice is amplified even more because so many of my colleagues are representing suburban or urban districts. It is my pleasure to tell others about our district and at times, invite them to see first hand what we “look” like. It surprises those in the larger cities to learn how diverse our schools are, how large our major employers are, how entrepreneurial our farmers and small businesses are, and how important we are to providing alternative energy sources. 

For 16 years I have showcased our part of Minnesota. We have had legislators come to our community to see flood damage and repair, the exceptional research facilities of the Hormel Institute, and our outstanding public schools. Just recently the Commissioner of Ag Thom Petersen came to Austin to see Riverland Community College’s ag center, and along with Governor Walz visited a local farm to recognize their good land stewardship. Last year, during the House “mini-session” we had legislators tour Hormel Foods and IJ Holton intermediate school,  see first-hand our wastewater treatment needs, and spend time along the Cedar River learning about our flood mitigation efforts.

The upcoming legislative session will be one of the most challenging in generations. We know COVID-19 has severely impacted many in our community. Tax revenue is going to be down but expenses have not gone away. In 2008 we faced a similar downturn in the economy. Once again our budget shortfall will require numerous options to be put on the table for consideration. Every aspect of the state budget needs to be reviewed and some things will need to be scaled back, reduced, removed, while other efforts may need to be strengthened co in order to best support economic growth.

I am proud of many accomplishments during my years of service, beginning in 2005 when we were able to get the legislature to approve Austin’s request for a Local Option Sales Tax, the 2011 legislative term when we were able to secure $13.5 million bonding for the Hormel Institute expansion, to the 2020 bonding bill to fund the first phase of updating our wastewater treatment plant.

I am always proud to partner with our local elected and appointed officials to make Austin and our surrounding area the best it can be. My job resume is full of success stories. I am effective at my job and my experience can be counted on to get us through the challenges we are sure to face in 2021-2022. I appreciate your consideration, and ask for your vote to serve another two year term in the MN House of Representatives.