2010 Voter Guide: John KrieselFormer National Guardsman says government too divided
John Kriesel says he isn't a politician — he's happy to point that out. And that, the former Minnesota National Guardsman says, is exactly why he's qualified for state office.
Kriesel — who was severely wounded during a combat tour in Iraq in 2006, losing portions of both his legs — is making his first bid for public office and is seeking to recapture the District 57A seat in the state House for the GOP.
"The reason I'm qualified isn't that I'm missing legs and was wounded in combat," he said. "I feel that I'm qualified because of my leadership experience in difficult situations."
Kriesel preaches fiscal conservatism, saying the state needs to cut its budget — not tax more — to solve its almost $6 billion budget crisis. "Shared sacrifices" will be required, he says. He said lower taxes on job creators is the way to spur job growth, and said he doesn't think it's the right time to focus on funding major commuter and high-speed rail projects — including the Red Rock Corridor through south Washington County.
But Kriesel also preached bipartisanship, and said he is willing to listen to ideas from both sides of the aisle, saying he is "not a rubber stamp for the political party I am affiliated with."
"In the military, we had a mission," he said. "We worked together. We got it done and we always got it done. That's what we're lacking at the State Capitol."
City: Cottage Grove
Family: Married, two sons
Occupation: Marketing liaison
What should legislators do to solve the state's projected $5.8 billion budget deficit?
Making temporary cuts enacted by the Legislature during the previous session are the first step toward balancing the budget, Kriesel says. Lawmakers should also look at measures that will cut waste, like prohibiting the use of state-issued benefit cards outside Minnesota — a move he says could save the state $10 million — or consolidating computer services used by the state of Minnesota.
Kriesel said he did not sign a "no new taxes" pledge because "with a budget problem this big we shouldn't box ourselves in." But he stressed that he doesn't believe tax increases or new taxes are needed to cover the gap.
Why are you the more qualified candidate?
"I feel that I'm qualified because of my leadership experience in difficult situations," he said, citing his National Guard deployments in Kosovo and Iraq.
Kriesel has no previous experience in politics or government, and said he feels that is a strength.
"I feel good that we've gotten to a point that you don't have to be a well-to-do (person) — you can be a regular person and run for office, and that's how it should be," he said.