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Our View / Endorsement: Rep. Rarick has better background

The main-party candidates in Tuesday's special election for Minnesota Senate District 11 live on farms, have deep community ties and involvements, and possess impressive political experiences.

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Jason Rarick
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The main-party candidates in Tuesday's special election for Minnesota Senate District 11 live on farms, have deep community ties and involvements, and possess impressive political experiences.

What sets Republican Jason Rarick apart is his business background, union activism, and private-sector experiences. Rarick is a union-endorsed master electrician and small-business owner - in addition to already being an effective and respected representative in the Minnesota House.

Voters on Tuesday can shift Rarick to the Senate to represent an expansive area west of Duluth that includes Carlton and Pine counties as well as small parts of St. Louis and Kanabec counties.

"I relate very well to the people of District 11. ... I can relate to the things they have going on in their lives because that's what I'm living as well," Rarick, of Pine City, said in an interview last week with the News Tribune Editorial Board. "My experience, my four years in the Legislature, my experience in the community doing so many things, the work that I did with my union on committees, and my time as a construction worker, all of that has really helped me."

Rarick's priorities as senator would be similar to his work as a state representative, he indicated, beginning with continued state funding to push high-speed internet deeper into rural Minnesota.

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"That's what our economy is based on. Our students need that. We're going to see our small towns disappear if we don't get that in place," Rarick said. "It's infrastructure, just like roads and bridges."

Roads and bridges and the need for permanent funding for Minnesota's transportation needs are also a priority for Rarick. He supports dedicating taxes from auto-parts sales, car leases, and other transportation-related spending to pay for transportation projects. DFL Gov. Tim Walz, meanwhile, has proposed raising the gas tax.

"Every year we're reliant on, 'Well, what's left over at the end to use to fix up our roads and bridges?' We can't rely on just what's left anymore," Rarick said. "I'm hoping we can come together, maybe half of each of (the DFL and Republican) plans, or scrap both and come up with something completely different that the two sides can agree on."

In a little over four years in the Legislature, Rarick has earned that sort of reputation for bipartisanship, including working with DFL Sen. Tony Lourey prior to his resignation in January to become commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Human Services.

Rarick's DFL opponent Tuesday is Lourey's son, Stu Lourey, who has worked for U.S. Sens. Al Franken and Tina Smith.

"I'm really passionate about state government, local government. I think a lot of the key questions that we're facing we're going to be answering them on the state level," Lourey said in a separate interview with the editorial board. "I think being a young person, running from a rural area, representing rural communities and small towns, I think there's a real powerful perspective I bring."

Also on Tuesday's ballot is Legal Marijuana Now candidate John Birrenbach.

Rarick earns the nod, though, with his wealth of experiences both in politics and in the real world. As he put it, he "would be the best voice for the area in the Senate."

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This News Tribune endorsement editorial was determined entirely by the newspaper's editorial Board. 

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