Our View / Endorsement: New perspective needed for 3B
He has leadership experience and elected experience, and he is already spending his workdays serving others. Keith MacDonald, with solid credentials, promises to be a strong voice and bring a fresh perspective for residents of Minnesota House District 3B.
Eligible voters in the district — which stretches from Proctor to Two Harbors, skirting Duluth and including Hermantown, Rice Lake, Midway Township, and Solway Township — have an opportunity on Election Day on Nov. 6 to elect a watchdog on government spending and an advocate against higher taxes. They can send MacDonald to St. Paul to work for them as their new state representative.
"I'm a compromiser," MacDonald said at a News Tribune-sponsored candidate forum last month. "That doesn't mean I'm going to fold on the issues. But sometimes we just have to compromise in politics. ... We have to look at what's the best solution, what's the best answer to the problem and the issue that we're facing. And we have to be humble enough to be able to say, 'Hey, this person has a better idea than what I have.' And then we have to be willing to go in that direction. And I think a lot of times what's happening is it's just party pride that keeps people from being willing to do that."
MacDonald grew up in Hermantown, earned a business-administration degree from the University of Minnesota Duluth, and has been an insurance agent for 30 years. He served as a board member on the Hermantown Area Chamber of Commerce and was mayor of Hermantown from 2004 through 2008, effectively managing its rapid growth. A decade or so ago, he successfully and satisfactorily resolved a legal matter that, at the time, grabbed sensational headlines.
A Republican in DFL country, MacDonald has firsthand experience with compromise and with working across the aisle to serve constituents. As a lawmaker, he'd put that experience into fixing health care and improving education. He listed the two issues as his top priorities.
"Health care is a mess in Minnesota, as it is in most of our country," he said. "It has really affected the middle class the most. They're the ones seeing the greatest increases in premiums."
Increased competition amongst health insurers has the best chance of bringing down consumer costs, MacDonald said.
With regard to better delivering education to Minnesota students, he said, "We need to look at solutions other than just money because the reality is, right now, about half the (state) budget goes to education, between K through 12 and at the university and college level. So how much money do you throw at a problem and still not get a solution?"
He suggested giving public schools grades, like they do in Florida, as motivation for making needed improvements.
"What parent wants their kid to go to a school that's getting a D or getting an F?" MacDonald asked.. "So (parents) begin to put pressure on the schools ... and things are turning around."
MacDonald is challenging Rep. Mary Murphy, who has been a lawmaker and DFL loyalist for 42 years.
"I am committed to do better (as part of the Legislature), and we can do better if we talk to each other. I think a great deal depends on the voters this year and who they elect and if the majority changes from (Republican control to DFL control)," she said at the forum. "I don't have the answers, but I have the strength and ability to get people together to talk and to get legislation passed that will help."
With change clearly needed in gridlocked St. Paul and in the representation the Northland keeps sending there, an experienced MacDonald promises to bring a welcomed shift.
"Perhaps it's time for a fresh perspective and somebody new," MacDonald said. "I'm ready for this position, and I could do a good job for the constituents of House District 3B."
About this endorsement
This News Tribune endorsement editorial was determined entirely by the newspaper's editorial Board. The board's members are Publisher Neal Ronquist, Editorial Page Editor Chuck Frederick, employee representative Kris Vereecken, citizen representative Julene Boe and citizen representative Denise Wise.