Sparks: ‘Everything needs to be on table’

Published 9:29 am Thursday, October 21, 2010

Calling himself a strong independent voice, District 27 Sen. Dan Sparks, DFL-Austin, is seeking re-election to his third term in office.

He is running against Republican Kathy Green, also of Austin.

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Sparks, 42, and his wife, Andrea, have three girls, ages 14, 15 and 19.

Dan Sparks

He said he has lived in Austin since he was 2 and enjoys spending time in the outdoors, playing golf and doing things with his family.

He is a part of the Austin Noon Lions Club, Sons of American Legion, Austin Eagles Club and until recently worked as a mortgage loan originator.

He first ran for the state Senate in 2002 and was re-elected in 2006.

“It’s been my honor and privilege to serve the district,” Sparks said, noting that he, together with the residents of the district, have been able to accomplish many things. “There are still a few more things I’d like to see completed.”

He said during his time in office thus far he has tried to put people before politics and has passed about 100 bills into law that came from bipartisan support. He said he recognizes that his decisions affect not only voters, but his own family and friends also.

When he’s been out visiting with people and knocking on doors during his campaign, he said people have been concerned about primarily the economy and jobs.

“They just want to make sure they have a job and a good education for their children.


Regarding his plan for the budget, Sparks said legislators need to be open and honest with people about budget decisions. He is not in favor of shifts in payments or delays.

“It’s easy to say no new taxes and get elected,” he said.

He noted he thinks legislators need to take a balanced approach to the budget and talked about how they need to prioritize and think of out-of-the-box solutions.

“Everything needs to be on the table,” he said.

Sparks said he thinks local government aid has served the Albert Lea area well and that it was originally put in place to make rural cities fair and equitable.

“It’s unfair and unfortunate that local cities and counties are expecting money and then it gets taken away from them at the last second.

He stated he will not support a budget that makes seniors and middle class residents spend more to stay in their homes.

Jobs and economic development

Sparks said he thinks the Jobs Opportunity Building Zones program has served the Albert Lea and Freeborn County area well. This area not only had more projects, but more successful projects under the program.

He said he’s proud of the work he’s done with the business industry and a jobs committee. He’s worked to make sure businesses know the state is business friendly and will continue to fight for angel investment tax credits for start-up businesses.

He’s also proud of the relationships he’s built with officials at Riverland Community College and for all the college is doing to create programs that cater to the job need.


In many cases, education funding in the state gets to be an equity issue, he said, noting that some schools in the metro area look like small colleges and universities.

“Our charge is to make sure every student in the state deserves to have a quality education,” Sparks said.

He said legislators need to get the base funding set and then make sure the schools don’t see delays or shifts of payments.

The dollars need to get into the classroom.

He also pointed out that he’s a strong supporter of early childhood education.

He said for every dollar invested in early childhood education, there is a $17 investment.

What’s next?

In the final days before the Nov. 2 general election, Sparks said he wants to continue to stay positive in his campaign message and focus on the work he’s  completed.

“I’ve worked hard, and I take this job very seriously,” Sparks said. “I hope the voters will see to it to send me back.”

He said he works diligently to get back to people when they contact him and to find out as much information as possible about concerns.