WOODBURY, Minn. - Woodbury Mayor Mary Giuliani Stephens said she hopes to quell what she sees as bickering and disrespect at the Minnesota Capitol.
Giuliani Stephens, who announced her run for governor Wednesday, Nov. 29, a day after she registered her campaign with the state. She joined nearly a dozen other Republicans already in the race for governor.
Applause flooded a room packed with red and white campaign signs as Giuliani Stephens decried the "disfunction" in the state government.
Although she is the sole Republican woman in the race so far, she said her experience in an executive and nonpartisan city government role sets her apart from other challengers.
"I know everyone is telling you, 'I will be the one to be bipartisan,' but here's the difference: My bridges are built on foundation of strong principles," she said. "I do not lead a political life; I lead a Minnesota life that happens to involve politics."
Giuliani Stephens entered the political arena more than a decade ago when she was elected to the Woodbury City Council in 2006. She was elected mayor in 2010 and re-elected in 2014. Her priorities as governor, she said, would largely reflect those of her city government campaigns: economic growth and efficient government.
Solidifying both of those components sometimes means government must "get out of the way," she said.
"I think what happens when government tries to get beyond their functions and try to be everything to everybody, they can't effectively do what they're called to do," she said.
Giuliani Stephens said she sees room to taper government's role by scaling back what she sees as excessive state regulations. Regulations that offer no funding, she said, often burden communities with taxes and fail to achieve the intended effect.
Giuliani Stephens also said she hopes to tackle tax increases by Gov. Mark Dayton's administration. She said they've done little to improve health care, education and transportation.
Opponents, however, quickly criticized Giuliani Stephens' business interests.
"Being handpicked by big businesses and Republican insiders, she'll put corporate profits ahead of hardworking Minnesotans," said Joe Davis, executive director of Alliance for a Better Minnesota. "We need a governor who will put Minnesota families first, not further a corporate agenda at our expense."
Giuliani Stephens said she doesn't expect her campaign to affect her mayoral duties.
"I'll keep my family a priority, but my social life will probably suffer a little," she said.