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Incumbent's View: Working across the aisle gets things done

ABOUT THIS RACE: Minnesota Senate District 11 stretches roughly from Cloquet in its northeast to Mora in its southwest. DFLer Michelle Boyechko is challenging incumbent Republican District 11 Sen. Jason Rarick in the Nov. 8 election. Early voting is now open.

Jason Rarick
Sen. Jason Rarick
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The last eight years have been a whirlwind and an incredible learning experience for me in the Minnesota Legislature. During that time I have served on many committees but have really focused on jobs and energy. With my background as an IBEW electrician and a self-employed electrical contractor, these two issue areas fit my background well. During the last two years, higher education has become another issue I have really begun to dig into.

Energy, and where the future of energy is going, is a topic on everyone’s mind. My philosophy is that we should be looking to be better stewards for the environment while remaining affordable and reliable. Technologies are emerging that will do just that. I recently toured the National Nuclear Labs in Idaho Falls, Idaho, and was amazed at how close we are to having small modular nuclear reactors ready to go. The possibilities around hydrogen and renewable natural gas are also sources of energy that could be shaping our future. We just need to be open to all possibilities — and not limited to just wind and solar.

From the column by Michelle Boyechko: "I have no time for people just looking to stymie legislation. We are there to work for the people."

The one thing I really learned these last two years is the connection between jobs and higher education. As someone who went to Dunwoody to learn a trade, I have always pushed back on the idea that everyone needs to go to college. College is not for everyone, but some type of postsecondary education is in today’s world. That could be an apprenticeship program, community college, trade school, or college. I’m sure there are many other options as well. I believe we must shift our focus to help people figure out what career they would like to go into. That begins by helping them understand all the options out there, from manufacturing and the trades to nursing, law enforcement, business, entertainment, military, education, and the thousands of other opportunities. Then a person can determine the best way to get the education they need at the most affordable price. This approach would save time and money for both students and school systems.

Two of the best schools I have found are both located right here in District 11. Pine Technical and Community College and Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College. Other schools could learn a lot from the approaches taken by these two schools in putting students’ needs before the institution’s.

Besides working in committees on issues, the most important part of the position is helping constituents work through issues they are having. I am blessed with incredible staff who are committed to assisting me when it comes to helping constituents. Whether it is helping them deal with a state agency, working through licensing or permit issues, carrying legislation to address a problem, or connecting them to helpful resources, assisting people is the most rewarding part of the position.

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It has been an honor to serve the people of Carlton, Kanabec, Pine, and St. Louis counties in St. Paul at the Capitol. I want to continue to represent the people of our counties in the Minnesota Senate for another four years and use my experience to make a difference.

The work ethic instilled in me by my parents has led to me being a legislator who is sought out to carry tough and important pieces of legislation. My willingness to work across the aisle and compromise has led to many of those bills being signed into law.

I hope the people of District 11 have been happy with the job I have done and will allow me to represent them in the Senate for another four years.

Sen. Jason Rarick of Brook Park is the Republican senator for Minnesota Senate District 11. He wrote this for the News Tribune at the request of the Opinion page.

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