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Paid political letter: Bennett sidelined bonding bill projects for area

It was frustrating to see the bonding bill fall short again in the Legislature’s second special session. This bill included funding to complete the Blazing Star Trail segment between Albert Lea and Hayward. For over 20 years this district has been asking the state for a pedestrian and bike trail that would connect Albert Lea to Austin with more than 20 miles of beautiful prairie to enjoy. This would boost our service, tourist and retail economy.

As an avid cyclist and Hayward resident, I am personally saddened that Peggy Bennett joined House Republicans in voting against the bill. With this vote, she may also be leaving $1 million in secured MnDOT grant funding on the table if the project cannot be finished.

Another item in the bonding bill Bennett voted against was $3.5 million in funding for the flood mitigation project on East Main Street, in Albert Lea. This project would keep traffic flowing and ensure access to nearby businesses when large rain events occur.

Biggest of all, Bennett voted against $7.5 million for dredging of Fountain Lake. As a community that promotes our lakes lifestyle, this should be a no-brainer. We are home to water recreation enthusiasts, year-round anglers and wildlife conservationists. We need to maintain the quality of our lakes.

These widely popular projects are job creators and would signal to people that southern Minnesota is a great place to raise a family. Despite saying last fall, “It’s time to get this done,” Bennett sidelined these projects to join Minority Leader Kurt Daudt in playing politics with the bonding bill.

If you vote for me, I will provide District 27A with a fresh perspective and follow through on supporting bonding bill items that create jobs, facilitate commerce and improve our quality of life.

Thomas Martinez

Hayward