Minnesota House District 54B candidate Q/A: Tony Jurgens
Why should voters choose you over your opponent?
I am uniquely qualified to represent all of District 54B because of my strong ties to both Cottage Grove and Hastings. I've worked hard to make our communities stronger by volunteering on several boards and commissions in both cities. My wife Dawn and I have lived in Cottage Grove for nearly 24 years, where I've been active in our neighborhood and throughout the community. Our daughters attended K-8 at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton School in Hastings and then graduated from Hastings High School. I coached youth sports and volunteered as a chaperone as many parents do. I'm a nine-year member of the Finance Council at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Church in Hastings and currently serve as vice chair. I'm also active in the Knights of Columbus where I am the grand knight of the Hastings council. In April, the Cottage Grove mayor and City Council recognized me as the Volunteer of the Year for my civic involvement.
Do you believe additional funding is needed for transportation projects? If so, what specific revenue source(s) do you support and how should new transportation funding be spent?
Investing in our infrastructure and maintaining our roads and bridges is a core responsibility of government. Currently, transportation funding comes from sources such as the gas tax, licensing fees and taxes on auto sales. I would consider redirecting current sales tax on automotive-related items into a special fund for transportation infrastructure. I would also place a strong emphasis on road and bridge projects in a potential bonding bill. I'm not in favor of raising the gas tax and I'm not in favor of increasing license tab fees.
If the state is projected to have a budget surplus, what would you do with that revenue?
We should continue to follow current state law and set aside a portion of the surplus to have funds available for a future downturn in the economy. Any excess would be prioritized on transportation infrastructure and equity funding for our local schools. With this, I'd support tax relief for the working families that contributed to this surplus.
If the state is projected to have a budget deficit, how would you propose the budget be balanced — spending cuts, tax/revenue increases or a combination of the two?
Whether deficit or surplus, the state of Minnesota should spend its revenue as efficiently as those in our communities do with their family budgets. After finding efficiencies, I would look to policies that grow our economy. This could include eliminating government barriers to success or promoting opportunities for strong, quality jobs for families. While cutting spending and raising taxes are often cited as solutions to solving deficits, I'll support alternatives that will grow our economy which will raise revenue without raising taxes.
What would you do to reduce partisanship in the Minnesota Legislature?
I've never run for any office and my experience in politics has been limited. Most of those I've served with on boards and commissions didn't know my party affiliation until I announced my run for the House of Representatives. I work with others from all walks of life to produce results, regardless of political parties. I have friends and family on both sides of the political aisle so I'm accustomed to listening to different opinions when making decisions. When I'm in the legislature, I'll be working for my constituents, not for my party. I'll take a balanced approach to governing and getting the best outcome for the citizens of our district.
City: Cottage Grove
Occupation: Independent insurance agent
Education: Bachelor’s in business administration, Southwest Minnesota State University
Family: Wife, Dawn; daughters Alexa and Tori
Civic involvement: Cottage Grove Volunteer of the Year; currently Cottage Grove Economic Development Authority, treasurer; Cottage Grove Public Services Commission, chair; Washington County Library Board, member; Finance Council, vice chair (past chair) at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic Church, Hastings; Knights of Columbus Hastings Council 1600, grand knight; Cottage Grove Comprehensive Plan Steering Committee, member; Cottage Grove Neighborhood Watch, block captain; previously: with wife Dawn hosted National Night Out/Night to Unite neighborhood party for 10 years; Cottage Grove Public Works Commission, chair; Cottage Grove Charter Commission, vice chair; Parish Council, member at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic Church, Hastings