Thank you, Rep. Murdock, Sen. Hoffman, Gov. Dayton
When people imagine an elected official's job, they tend to think of lawmakers as people who give speeches or cast votes. While that's certainly part of it -- casting votes to represent the views of the people in your district -- the great ones also do an amazing job behind the scenes shepherding good legislation through the archaic rules of St. Paul.
My first visit to the Legislature was nearly 20 years ago, with former Rep. Bob Anderson, a Wadena native who was representing District 10A. Anderson was a good politician and the chairman of the powerful Health and Human Services committee. I saw him skillfully dodge lobbyists, work deals in the halls of the Capitol, and always pound the table on behalf of his constituents. He had many friends and a few enemies after being both a Republican and DFLer in the House. And he knew how to get things done. I respected him immensely.
My point is much of what our elected leaders do -- and what separates the good ones from the mediocre ones -- is the ability to get things done behind the scenes. Whether it's checking into a constituent small business owner's concern about a specific regulation or getting a local project in a bonding bill, it takes a lot of hustle and determination to get it done. It takes a lot of guts, too, because it sometimes means standing up to your colleagues to do the right thing.
This is why we want to thank Rep. Mark Murdock, Sen. Gretchen Hoffman and Gov. Mark Dayton for getting the Wadena Wellness Center (community center) on the bonding bills in this upcoming session. One can only imagine at a time when budgets are extremely tight and the state is trying to live within its means what it took to stand up for this project.
Since the 2010 tornado, Wadena has made do with what it has, all the while working toward a day where a new community center could be built to replace the one we lost. That day, while not here just yet, is getting much closer.
We certainly understand the Legislature's desire to limit local projects in the upcoming bonding bill, because funding is simply tight right now. But there are a few reasons that this is the right time to get the Wadena project done:
Interest rates for borrowing are very low right now, and if the state is ever going to borrow for projects, this is a fortuitous time.
Any construction activity puts people back to work. They've been waiting a while to swing a hammer.
Our legislators counseled us to keep the project very lean and to put our own skin in the game, meaning local donations. That's happening now. And the project really has been pared down to something that's affordable, even in a recession.
Childhood obesity continues to be a big problem. Having a new community center will help reverse that. Think of how that affects our local economy: healthier kids and parents mean fewer sick days for mom and dad, fewer medical bills for the family, and more disposable income for the family.
Our local leaders have worked tirelessly on this project, and they deserve much praise. We'd also like to give a lot of praise to the people who are representing us in St. Paul. Wadena has been patient and hopeful, waiting for our turn, and our local legislators supporting and pushing for this project means a lot.
The Pioneer Journal editorial represents the collective voice of the paper's editorial board. Today's editorial was written by Steve Schulz, editor and publisher.