CGMC Board meets with gubernatorial candidates (Round 3)

The CGMC Board of Directors met with Republican gubernatorial candidates Rep. Matt Dean, Woodbury Mayor Mary Giuliani Stephens and Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson on Wednesday, the third in a series of meetings with candidates running for governor. The board previously met with candidates Chris Coleman, Tina Liebling and Erin Murphy in November and with Keith Downey, Rebecca Otto and Paul Thissen in December. Additional candidate meetings may be added in the future.

Rep. Matt Dean, a Dellwood resident who has served in the Minnesota House since 2004, said he decided to run for governor because he is deeply concerned about the future of our state. When crafting a budget, he said he would look for ways to cut spending by analyzing state agencies and programs, but would also potentially increase spending in areas such as mental health. On LGA, he acknowledged that many Greater Minnesota communities, particularly those in “sparse areas,” need LGA to survive, but he would not commit to increasing funding. He expressed support for changing the LGA formula, claiming that Minneapolis and St. Paul receive too much. When asked about economic development, Rep. Dean said that health care and workforce needs are the biggest concerns he hears when traveling the state. He said heavy regulations and high taxes cause Minnesota to lose businesses, and that he would put more emphasis on economic development across state agencies if elected.

Woodbury Mayor Mary Giuliani Stephens, who is currently in her second term, said she decided to jump into the governor’s race based on her father’s adage to “quit whining and be part of the solution.” She expressed concern about unfunded mandates, particularly in regard to environmental regulations, as well as frustration that cities have not had a louder voice in the regulatory process. As governor, she said she would strive to lower taxes, reduce overly burdensome regulations and look for budget savings by reducing inefficiencies at state agencies. She noted that Woodbury does not receive LGA, but she is involved in many state and regional organizations, “none of which oppose LGA.” Stephens said she would like to review the LGA formula, as well as other state policies, to see if it needs to be revised. On economic development, she talked about the state’s worker shortage and touted partnerships between businesses and high schools and colleges. She also noted the importance of investing in infrastructure and transportation, but said the state needs to be more prudent with its bonding dollars.

Commissioner Jeff Johnson, a former state representative from Plymouth who is currently in his third term as county commissioner, said his main reason for running for governor is because he wants to give people more control over their own money, businesses and decisions. If elected, he would curb spending and craft a much smaller state budget. However, his funding priorities would be transportation (roads and bridges), K-12 education and a safety net focused on the most vulnerable. Johnson said he supports LGA on the premise that it helps cities who aren’t property-rich afford basic services, but he dislikes the current LGA formula — particularly the amount that Minneapolis and St. Paul receive — and would change it “dramatically.” He expressed frustration with the “arrogance” of state agencies and said they need to involve more people in the decision-making process. When it comes to economic development, he said Minnesota needs to reduce taxes and regulations and speed up the permitting process. He also highlighted workforce issues where the state could play a role, such as housing, child care and technical training.

You can learn more about the candidates and their priorities at their campaign websites: