Every vote counts

Published 9:25 am Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Albert Lea mayor

Vern Rasmussen Jr.

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Age: 46

Address: 1426 Edgewater Drive

Vern Rasmussen

Occupation: physical therapist

Family: married with two children

How have you have been involved in the community and what are some of your personal interests and hobbies?

Community involvement is of great importance to me because it is a building block to a successful community. I have currently been on the City Council for six years. During that time I have served on the Albert Lea Economic Development Agency board, library board, human rights board and the Blazing Star Trail’s joint-powers board. Personally, I stay busy with coaching youth sports, volunteering at school events and other community events. My hobbies include golf, boating, watching sporting events and spending time with family and friends.

Why did you run?

The main reason I am running for mayor of Albert Lea is that I truly have a passion for this community. We have taken many positive steps in our past but continue to have great potential, and I hope to actively build towards future success. I see the many challenges and opportunities that our community faces and I have the leadership skills to partner with others to get through these challenges.

Why should people vote for you?

A vote for Vern Rasmussen Jr. will be a vote for a commitment to success through cooperation and hard work.

We must live our mission statement: “The city of Albert Lea will deliver exceptional services that enhance the quality of life for current and future generations.” This will be the focus of our community.

In doing this there will be many challenges. First, there will be the financial concerns. I will support cooperation with organizations and government bodies, involvement with state and national representatives, the grant process for identified projects, and openness to ideas.

We will be aware of our infrastructure needs and work hard to minimize financial burden for our citizens. This requires us to be dedicated to an identified capital improvement plan.

We will work aggressively to make Albert Lea an opportunity for businesses. This will require continued cooperation and teamwork with ALEDA to build plans proactively.

Where do you stand on budgets?

We will continue to be challenged by budgetary concerns over the next several years. The uncertain environment and revenue deficits at the state level leave every rural community in a difficult situation. The decrease in LGA will challenge all of us to be more productive with monies.

This will require the community, staff and City Council to work as a whole to find answers. These answers will be encouraged at all levels, no matter how small or big. Ideas create answers!

This being said, tough decisions will have to be made. These decisions will shape the future of our community. We will evaluate decisions continuously to maximize our returns.

Albert Lea City Council Ward 2

Larry Baker

Age: 53

Larry Baker

Address: 1315 Lakeview Blvd

Occupation: self-employed carpenter, part-time maintenance person for the two Korner Mart convenience stores

Family: (No response)

How have you have been involved in the community and what are some of your personal interests and hobbies?

I enjoy every spring participating in the Albert Lea and downtown cleanup days. I sit on the Planning Commission, Heritage Preservation Commission and the Board of Appeals as a representative of the city. I’m a strong supporter of the downtown and attend the Downtown Association/Destination Albert Lea monthly meetings. I have been actively involved with the Freeborn National Bank and Jacobson buildings, I have helped out with the National Vitality Center, from helping with the demo of the interior to running to the Cities to get the two back windows to help move donated office furniture to the center. This year I had the privilege to help raise funds with the Knights of Columbus, Fountain Lake Sportsmen’s Club, Lakes Foundation and Councilor Larry Anderson for the Hanson/Dress/Monkey Island bridge project. I have also been a part of the city-county effort to try to come up with solutions to issues — i.e. Stables area, Bridge Avenue — that involve both since I became a member of the City Council in 2007.

U.S. Congress District 1

Lars Johnson

Lars Johnson

Age: 50

Address: 738 Northern Heights Drive NE, Rochester

Occupation: independent business owner, LAJ Consulting, aka food safety guy

Family: wife, Karen; two adult daughters Holly (Mirau) and Diana; brother Jay Johnson and his wife live in Albert Lea

How have you have been involved in the community and what are some of your personal interests and hobbies?

I am a member and leader at our church in Rochester. In 2001 I served on the Olmsted County Human Rights Commission. In 2003 and 2004 I organized and hosted community readings of the U.S. and Minnesota constitutions.

I belong to the national Environmental Health Association (and the Minnesota affiliate), the Minnesota School Nutrition Association, and Lanesboro Local. I am on the National Exam Council for Prometric. I belong to the Food Safety Partnership and have volunteered for numerous industry/Health Department work groups and committees.

Why did you run?

I stand against further centralizing of power in the federal government. I will work to make sure that the federal government is brought back to within the boundaries described by its job description, the U.S. Constitution.

Federal policies should never put obstacles in a person’s way as they go about their daily lives.

Visit my website to learn more about how I will work to remove these obstacles to your success:

Wealth suppression, impossible debt load, troubled currency, family fragmentation, uncertain marketplace and party politics have created these obstacles, and we need an independent, party-free representative to start removing them.

Why should people vote for you?

My business thrives or fails by my customer service. I will treat you all as valued customers. As your party-free congressman, I will not answer to a House speaker. I won’t answer to large corporations or unions who contribute to the parties. I will only answer to our district and do only what is best for us, based on constitutional governing principles.

The largest bloc of voters in our district is unaffiliated/independent. You don’t have to settle this time. You can go to the polls and select a true independent. It will only take 26 percent to win in a close race.

Where do you stand on jobs?

We traditionally have looked to an employer to provide us with a paycheck. Party politics have made it increasingly difficult for employers to pay us high wages, find money for bonuses, and continue benefits like PTO and affordable group insurance policies. Businesses have been forced to close and to terminate some positions forever.

According to Minnesota’s Secretary of State in 2009 there were more than 60,000 new businesses filed in Minnesota. Minnesotans are not waiting for handouts. We are going out to find our income sources. Many people in our district are sole proprietorships or one-man shops; I am such a business. The federal government should stand back and let entrepreneurs step out and do whatever (legally) it takes to pay the bills. I will fight against federal rules, restrictions, taxes, fees and oversight that make it difficult for the smallest of businesses to operate.