2.  Family members Roberta Wyatt (mother), Ed Yerka (father)   3.  Occupation US Bank   4.  Community involvement: (Boards, commissions, service organizations, etc.) I am the historian for my Sons of the American Legion Squadron and I am a volunteer for the American Legion's annual Boys State program.   5.  Representing District __16A__.   6.  Why are you running for this office? I'm running because I believe that all Minnesotans deserve access to quality education, affordable health care, and a government worthy of our trust. These are not revolutionary ideas, and the people of Southwest Minnesota deserves a Representative who will fight for them. The time for change and for new leadership is now.   7.  If elected, what is your top priority? My top priority is to change the funding model for our public schools, ensuring that every student has access to an equal education and that everybody is paying their fair share. This will mean less reliance on local levies, and instead on a greater portion of state aid so people pay into our public education system based on income rather than on their property taxes.   8.  Budget: Minnesota’s economy is doing well. What would you do to see to it that the state’s economy continues on a course of growth? We need to enact policies that benefit the economies of rural Minnesota's communities. This means more state services available in non-county seat communities, promoting more affordable and available day-care options to attract families and workers to Southwest Minnesota, and expanding broadband across our communities.   9.  Taxes: What is your position on both business and personal taxes? Do taxes need to be raised or cut? If cut, what spending cuts would you support to make up the difference?
I would like to see at least a portion of the revenue generated from the online sales tax dedicated to expanding high-speed broadband internet infrastructure in rural Minnesota. In addition,I believe Minnesota would benefit from cutting the state income tax on Social Security which is causing many folks to leave Minnesota for states like South Dakota. By keeping more citizens in Minnesota we can expand the tax base.
  10. Spending: What would you do to ensure that Greater Minnesota isn’t left behind the Metro Area when it comes to state funding? As mentioned, we should dedicate a large portion of the state's online sales tax to expanding broadband internet. We should also dedicate more funding raised from the gas tax to rural communities. However, every issue from healthcare, to daycare, to schools, effect equality between rural Minnesota and the metro. Having a legislator who's willing to work with both sides of the aisle to promote change that will benefit all Minnesotans is what we need.   11. Education: What are your priorities for K-12 education in Minnesota? First, we need to fix the funding model. Then we need to ensure that we are attracting and retaining qualified teachers. Having a more affordable pathway towards full licensure in addition to increasing teacher pay will help to bring more folks into the profession. Many schools districts are experiencing turnover in their schools due to difficulty retaining employees, which, in the long run, is more costly because they must recruit, hire, and train replacements.    12. Health care: What do you feel should be the future of health care in Minnesota? We must increase investment in telemedicine services, in addition to recruiting and training medical professionals here in rural Minnesota. By creating a pathway to licensure in the trades (including trades like nursing) in our high schools, we can bolster local healthcare and our local economy. On a large scale, I would like to create a public option to MinnesotaCare - allowing anyone to choose to buy into an effective public health insurance option.    13. Infrastructure: What are your priorities for infrastructure in Greater Minnesota?  Nearly all of our infrastructure needs improvement, and we must dedicate the funds to do so. We must also work across the aisle with representatives from all across rural Minnesota to ensure equality between the metro and us. We must dedicate a greater portion of the gas tax to rural communities, and expand our broadband internet infrastructure. Additionally, enhancing our highway system with needed improvements like additional passing lanes will strengthen our regional economy and increase safety.    14. Minimum wage: Would you support a state-wide increase in the minimum wage? Why or why not? Yes, I would support an increase in the state-wide minimum wage; however, we would need to do it over a long period of time and phase it in slowly. Many folks who work full-time jobs at minimum wage are tasked with caring for families. Additionally, in many rural communities, a decrease in the number of employers has led to a decrease in wages being offered because there is less competition. Supporting increasing the minimum wage supports folks across rural Minnesota.   15. Farm economy: Farmers are struggling, especially small farmers. What would you do to see to it that our farmers can not only survive, but prosper? In addition to bringing the buffer-strip issue back up for debate and crafting a policy with farmers at the table, we can do a much better job of supporting farmers who want to sell local, grow specialty crops, and sell directly to consumers. I also believe that our state representatives should be vocal supporters of national trade policies which affirm farmers' ability to trade around the world - something which has been sorely lacking with our current state representative.    16. Marijuana: Currently in America, the number of persons incarcerated for possessing marijuana has now surpassed the number of persons incarcerated for violent crimes, causing a backlog of court cases and a shortage of prison space. Would you support the legalization of marijuana in Minnesota? Why or why not? If legalizing Marijuana came up for a vote I would vote for it only if it gave local communities the power to choose if they would allow it to be sold or cultivated, was highly regulated, and included a phase-in time that would allow for substantial research into how we would police it. I would support it because, in states where it is legal, the rate of use among minors has dropped. By regulating it, we can both allow adults to make their own choices and keep it out of the hands of kids.    17. Are there any other issues you may wish to briefly address? The biggest thing that our legislature needs is a culture change. We need representatives who listen to their communities instead of political parties, who work across the aisle, and who don't wait until the last minute to vote on important legislation. In order to achieve this every one of us needs to vote.