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Bulletin letters to the editor: Same-sex marriage, legislative races, Cottage Grove elections, Newport campaigns

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Newport has seen significant improvements

Diversified Manufacturing Corp. is celebrating its 25th year in business and has spent 19 of those 25 years in Newport. Prior to purchasing a property in Newport and moving into this city, we did not do our homework on city friendliness toward businesses and its residents. Although there were some difficult times with the city initially, we blamed ourselves for not being thoughtful and compliant. Subsequently we realized that there was an ongoing problem with the city, its administration and legislative body. Businesses and residents were harassed and oppressed. We at DMC felt it very drastically, dramatically and financially. We strongly contemplated moving out of the city.

In 2008, when DMC completed its second phase of building, the city's oppressiveness loomed overwhelmingly and that situation helped the bonding of other business owners who were enduring similar pressures and discontentment. Many residents voiced their concerns and then it was realized that it was a citywide dogmatism. Realizing that the city was being run by a group of autocrats, the only option that businesses and residents had was to utilize the election process to solicit change. Thankfully it worked. A new mayor, new city council members, new city administrator, new police chief etc., helped to bring some democracy to the city. The last four years, with the new administration, demonstrated what working together really means.

There have been significant improvements in all fronts when dealing with city officials and their code enforcements, permits and general good advice and guidance to get things accomplished -- no pushing around and red tapes. Now you can actually talk to someone who exercises reason and work to help get things done. Elections are coming around again and I hope that businesses and residents pay attention to what we currently have and should strive to keep. We should do everything possible to avoid getting back to what we had four years ago.

Following the national question, "Are we better off today than we were four years ago?" we in the city of Newport can safely and confidently say "yes" and that we want to keep it that way. Moving forward with progress is always a good thing and we all want good things.

Ram Motilall

Diversified Manufacturing Corp. president

Numbers don't lie: Bailey, Olsen, Peterson do well

I would like to point out some solid facts about Cottage Grove Mayor Myron Bailey and City Council members Justin Olsen and Jen Peterson. I have always found them to be very honest, open and approachable whenever I have been around them.

A survey was done on our city government and city services, and I found some interesting facts and numbers that I would like to share:

-- On quality of life in Cottage Grove: 29 percent excellent; 66 percent good; 5 percent fair; and only 1 percent poor.

-- A value rating on your property taxes you pay: 8 percent excellent; 71 percent good; 14 percent fair; and only 3 percent poor.

-- On knowing the mayor and council members: 6 percent knew them a great deal; 52 percent knew them a fair amount.

-- The most interesting I found was the approval rating: 4 percent strongly approved; 65 percent approved; 15 percent disapproved; 3 percent strongly disapproved; and 13 percent were undecided.

I found these ratings very interesting. With all of the negative I here from a few people, this kind of dispels a lot of what I have heard. You always have some people who will not agree with how a city should be run; this is politics. Numbers do not lie.

I read about a person running for a council seat. The reason he was running was he did not like the direction the city was going, and too many have told him that. I guess he should look at this survey. Then I found out that he has lived in Cottage Grove for less than a year. I do not know how you could come to this conclusion in such a short time. I find this survey shows a great deal of what Bailey, Olsen and Peterson have truly done for this city. I strongly stand behind them for another four years. As our economy strengthens, so will our city behind these great leaders.

To find the survey go to www.cottagegrove.org/images/communications/2012.cg.survey.

Please make your decisions with facts, and not by what someone has told you. I have been a happy Cottage Grove resident for 10 years. And do not think we should try to fix something that has been working perfectly for four years.

Patrick Forsythe

Cottage Grove

Voter ID ballot measure could be costly

In response to Shauna Klug's letter reprimanding candidate Dan Schoen for his stance on the voter ID amendment ("Schoen's voter ID opposition doesn't make sense," Sept. 26), to say that Schoen does not believe that the right to vote deserves protection could not be further from the truth. If the amendment is passed, it is estimated that 200,000 eligible Minnesota voters will be affected and potentially become non-voters. Schoen is probably thinking of the economic and societal cost of a mandate that will provide no benefit.

While Klug has done a "little research," thorough research is required to obtain complete information. Luckily, there are organizations such as the Brennan Center for Justice and the News21 Journalism program that have taken time to do the research and found that in-person voter fraud is "virtually non-existent." According to News21, over a 10-year span there were only 10 instances of in-person voter fraud nationwide.

The 24th amendment to the constitution requires that there shall be no poll tax, meaning that photo IDs will have to be provided cost-free to the recipient, which will burden taxpayers. According to cbs.local.com, the start -up cost of voter ID implementation is estimated to be $50 million. That is a huge cost to fix a problem that does not exist.

More important than the economic loss is the cost of losing voters. Minnesota has the highest voter turnout average of over 70 percent. This has been credited to practices such as same-day registration, which will not be possible without proper ID. Those likely to be affected by a photo ID requirement are the elderly, college students and people in poverty. By voting for an ID requirement, people will not be preventing significant voter fraud, because in-person voter fraud is rare and inconsequential. Instead they will be voting to make it more difficult for the previously mentioned groups to vote.

Voting is one of the few things that citizens can contribute to democracy and it should be treated as a civic duty to be an informed voter through in-depth research, not just "a little research." Anyone reading this should fact-check any numbers previously stated and create a habit of fact-checking because uninformed decisions affect everyone.

Leslie Foster-Huot

Cottage Grove

Support for the city council team

Like many of you reading this, I paid little attention to local government for quite some time. After the state shutdown last summer, I decided to pay attention to my state and city government. I attended many Cottage Grove City Council meetings or watched on television. I watched the actions and decisions of Mayor Myron Bailey and council members Justin Olsen and Jen Peterson. I took time to chat with all three, face-to-face, on multiple occasions about multiple issues.

What I found is this: Bailey, Olsen and Peterson are a really good team. They take their roles as public servants very seriously. They are warm, compassionate people who take time to hear all sides of an issue before making carefully thought-out decisions for our community. While understanding they cannot please all of the people, all of the time (including me), they focus on learning the facts about an issue before making decisions in the best interests of our city's short- and long-term health. They listen carefully to all of us before formulating an opinion or casting a vote. Even when we disagree, I know they have done their homework and examined the issue fairly from all sides, which is all we can ask for.

I learned how our city staff, mayor and council attended to the fiscal needs of the city during these challenging economic times, without increasing our tax levy. They've managed to increase the city's fiscal bond rating during these tough times through wise management of local taxpayer dollars. Impressive work, in my opinion.

Bailey, Olsen and Peterson commit a lot of time toward local volunteer work. They help with the Friends in Need Food Shelf, Fare for All, Stone Soup Thrift Shop, Cottage Grove Strawberry Fest and the Holiday Train. They also volunteer for their churches, Lions Club, Cottage Grove Athletic Association and Scouts. In many cases, they work together on these projects, as a team, for the common good of our entire community. For virtually anything going on in our area, you will find them not only concerned, but giving of their time and energy to show their support. I respect that. When I see something that works, I want to keep it going. Please join me this November in voting Myron Bailey for Cottage Grove mayor, and Justin Olsen and Jen Peterson for Cottage Grove City Council. Let's keep our community in good hands.

Jeff Reiswig

Cottage Grove

Same-sex marriage would start slippery slope

When a majority of the delegates at the Democratic National Convention, on a voice vote, booed God and Jerusalem, and the overall theme of the convention was government-paid abortions and birth control, I wondered what had happened to my country. With 85 percent of Americans professing to be Christians, how do we explain the coordinated attack on marriage, religion, family and our culture, the values we hold most dear?

Minnesota's Democratic secretary of state and attorney general intentionally attempted to confuse the voters by changing the wording on the ballot pertaining to the marriage amendment and the voter ID amendment. The court, in its wisdom, rejected this blatant fraud.

If same-sex marriage becomes law our country will be on the slippery slope where anything goes. A short time after Canada enacted same-sex marriage as the law of the land they have experienced the pitfalls of such a decision. Citizens are demanding the right to marry two people (polygamy). Where will this end? It's time for all of us to stand up for thousands of years of tradition, make our voices heard, don't be intimidated and vote "yes" for marriage.

Sharon Matzek

Hastings

Sieben supports job-creating investments

In 2011, newly elected GOP leaders promised a "laser focus" on job creation. Their focus was quickly distracted by rigid right-wing issues that brought us the state's longest government shutdown.

Instead of creating jobs, these leaders cut education, slashed health care and made higher education less affordable for Minnesota families. This isn't the kind of leadership Minnesota needs.

Katie Sieben is not afraid to support the investments we need to create local jobs -- like the new Hastings bridge. She will also support incentives such as the Minnesota Investment Fund that will help local businesses grow and prosper.

Minnesotans can't afford the kind of leadership that ignores job creation and gets distracted by partisan bickering and gridlock. Sieben is the senator we need to help move Minnesota forward.

Judy Gilbert

Cottage Grove

Olsen takes job seriously

I'm writing to support the re-election of Justin Olsen to the Cottage Grove City Council. Olsen takes his job as council member seriously and he works hard for the citizens of Cottage Grove.

Every week he spends time with our city workers to get a better understanding of their jobs, needs and responsibilities. This includes riding with snow plow operators, police and fire personnel and visiting with administrators and office workers. He has held community conversations that are open to the public to talk about local issues and receive feedback from us.

Olsen and I might be on opposite sides of the aisle politically but in a nonpartisan city race I vote for the best candidate and in my opinion, he is.

Please join me in voting for Justin Olsen for city council on Nov. 6.

Tony Jurgens

Cottage Grove

Schoen has better plan for voting concerns

I am writing in response to the letter in the Sept. 26 issue of the Bulletin criticizing DFL House candidate Dan Schoen's position on the voter ID amendment. Schoen believes the proper way to address any changes to the process should be done through a comprehensive review of our voting system by a bipartisan commission of election officials/experts, including current and former secretaries of state. This commission would lend credibility and objective decision making to the process. If changes are truly needed, the Legislature would have the commission's recommendations to consider to shape meaningful policy. Schoen also believes this can be done by state law rather than a constitutional amendment.

As a police officer Schoen has seen plenty of fake IDs and knows a photo ID doesn't prevent a felon from voting. He also knows the quality of fake IDs increases all the time. With advances in technology, we must also acknowledge our current use of photo IDs may soon be replaced with other forms of identification, like our thumb or finger print. This is hardly a radical position, but rather one that encourages bipartisan involvement and compromise to truly ensure the security of the voter. Schoen has my vote this November.

Jim Kurtz

St. Paul Park

Lehrke a right-wing political opportunist

It has been an interesting study in political gamesmanship watching Cottage Grove City Council member Derrick Lehrke "run to the middle" since gaining GOP endorsement for Minnesota House District 54A. Clearly, the strategy for Lehrke is to hope the electorate has not been paying attention to his uncooperative grandstanding and obstructionist antics over the last few years, while simultaneously attempting to convince voters that Lehrke and John Kriesel are ideological twins who were separated at birth.

His friend, Matthew Forshee, even wrote a letter to this paper attempting to tell us how Lehrke is a man of great principle who refuses to "go along to get along" in his role as a council member.

It's true that Lehrke has worked very hard at not getting along over the last two years, even telling the city's mayor and city administrator that he was "not elected to compromise" with his colleagues.

The truth is Lehrke was actually endorsed by the GOP for his unsuccessful run at a council seat four ago, just as he was two years ago when he again ran for council. Then, weeks after taking office, Lehrke skipped a pre-planned Saturday morning interview panel for Cottage Grove's vacant Community Development Director's position so he could attend a state GOP convention to vote on a new chairperson for the party, and then lied to his colleagues about his whereabouts.

He is a former chairman of the former House District 57A GOP and also served on GOP gubernatorial candidate Tom Emmer's recount challenge team in 2010. In short, Lehrke is no Kriesel. Never was. He is a right-wing, party-first, political opportunist who will say or do whatever he thinks people want to hear in order to win an election -- just like he's doing now.

Elijah Harter

Cottage Grove

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