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Two candidates, one ballot spot

New Senate District 41 seat has two Republican candidates to choose from in the primary election

By Bruce Karnick

[email protected]

Every 10 years, the Minnesota Legislative districts are re-drawn, creating shifts in both the parties and the seats of elected officials. After this year’s redistricting, every seat is being voted on. The DFL has their candidate for the ballot in November decided, Judy Seeberger of Afton. The Republican side of the ballot has yet to be determined. Political newcomer Tom Dippel earned the Republican endorsement at the caucus earlier this summer over his August 9 primary rival, current Representative Tony Jurgens. Both candidates are from Cottage Grove, and they took time out to answer questions to give our readers additional information as they head to the polls next Tuesday.

Editor’s note: the answers were given via e-mail and have only been edited for formatting issues and very basic grammar or spelling if needed. The questions are as they were presented in the email.

1. Name, city of residence and length, basics of your immediate family.

Dippel: Tom Dippel, Cottage Grove, 38 years, wife Carrie, six children Jurgens: I’ve been a resident of Cottage Grove for nearly 30 years. My wife Dawn and I have two married daughters and two grandchildren: Tori and her husband Tyler and Alexa and her husband Tony. Alexa and Tony have twins Charline and Walker.

2. Give a brief description of your educational and relevant employment background.

Jurgens: I have a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Southwest Minnesota State University and over 30 years of business experience. I’m an independent insurance agent with Insurance Works Agency in Woodbury.

I was first elected as state

See CANDIDATES Page 2

Tom Dippel

Tony Jurgens

FROM PAGE 1 representative in 2016 then re-elected in 2018, and 2020. I am a past recipient of Cottage Grove’s “Volunteer of the Year” award. Other boards and commissions include Former Grand Knight, Hastings Knights of Columbus. Former Chair, Cottage Grove Public Works Commission. Former Chair, Cottage Grove Public Services Commission. Former Treasurer, Cottage Grove Economic Development Authority. Former vice chair, Cottage Grove Charter Commission. Former Member, Washington County Library Board. Former Member, Cottage Grove Comprehensive Plan Steering Committee. Former Chair, St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic Church Finance Council, Hastings. Former Block Captain, Cottage Grove Neighborhood Watch.

Dippel: I graduated from Park High School in Cottage Grove, and have owned and operated my Dental Manufacturing business for over 14 years.

3. Why are you running? Dippel: The old guard has completely and fundamentally failed the people. Our current elected leaders allowed for crime to rise, inflation to skyrocket, and children in our schools to be alienated and indoctrinated. I could no longer sit on the sidelines and let the state I love lose its way. I jumped in the race for Minnesota Senate back in February and have not looked back since. Nearly 200 hardworking Republican Delegates saw the work that I have put into this campaign and voted to endorse me for this senate seat in March.

Jurgens: To bring common sense values to the Minnesota Senate, and ultimately help make a positive difference in people’s lives. The cost of state government is growing at an astounding rate while the average Minnesotan is trying to do more with less thanks to the massive inflation being seen under the Biden/Walz economy. This has to change. Ask yourself: is your family in a better place today than it was two years ago? The answer for most people is a hard no. The rate of inflation is over 9%. Meanwhile, most hardworking Minnesotans are lucky if they see a 3% raise, which quickly disappears after spending $75 to fill their gas tank each week and another $200 to buy a week’s worth of groceries for their family. With a projected $10 billion budget surplus, we have to find ways to put this money back in people’s pockets. This can only happen if we enact significant and permanent tax relief. Not a one-time check that looks nice for politicians around election time, but permanent tax relief that can actually make a difference over time. Four years ago, I helped pass the largest tax relief package that had been seen in Minnesota in almost two decades, and as your next state senator I’ll do it again.

4. What do you feel the role of a state senator should be?

Jurgens: To vote in the best interests of his or her constituents. To do so, you need to have an open mind about every piece of legislation that comes forward and decide if it will help more residents than it will hurt. You may have heard about some politicians, like my opponent, who are promising they will never vote for an omnibus bill – or legislation that contains multiple provisions within it. Residents should find this to be extremely problematic. As stated earlier, during my first term in the House, we approved a taxes omnibus bill that returned $1.4 billion to the taxpayers, most of them middle-class. It contained numerous, but separate, provisions that provided relief to working families, senior citizens, farmers, small business owners and college students with loan debt. The 290-page bill also included dozens, if not hundreds of other provisions that had nothing to do with tax relief, such as allowing St. Cloud voters to decide whether to raise taxes on food and lodging and increasing the maximum interest rate that counties can charge on drainage lien principal to six percent.

This taxes omnibus bill was approved on a 34-32 vote in the Senate in 2018. Based on what my opponent has said about never voting for an omnibus bill, he would have voted no on $1.4 billion in tax relief for hardworking Minnesotans. Had that happened, the bill would have then died on a 33-33 tie vote, and taxpayers never would have received a nickel. I can guarantee you any tax relief proposal that comes forward next year will be in omnibus bill format. And based on his campaign promises, my opponent would ultimately vote against what is likely to be billions of dollars in tax relief based on his alleged principles. Voters can decide if that is a hill their state senator should die on or not. But unlike my opponent, I can assure you I would not vote against billions of dollars in tax relief because I didn’t like the omnibus bill format. As your state senator, I will always vote for or against legislation based on how it will impact my constituents, and will never automatically dismiss anything simply because it contains more than one provision.

Dippel: The role of a senator (and government as a whole) is to protect the rights of the people. This includes the right to free speech and worship, the right to bear arms, the right to life, and the right to safety and so much more. Nobody should get involved in public service in an effort to make a career out of it, or to climb the political ladder. I am running for senate to work for the people of this district.

5. What experience do you have that makes you a good candidate for the new MN senate seat?

Dippel: I have owned and operated my dental manufacturing business in Newport for nearly 14 years and grown the business to employ 20 hard workers. I understand the threat that burdensome regulations and overbearing taxation plays in the lives of both businesses and everyday Minnesotans. Because I understand our state’s bureaucratic environment, I am well qualified to take it on and make government work for the people again.

My wife and I decided to homeschool our six children, which has been one of the best decisions we have made. My family is blessed to have the resources to do so, because we are well aware not all Minnesotans can afford to homeschool or enroll in a private school. I am fired up about passing real school choice legislation in Minnesota, so that parents can invest their tax dollars into students, not systems. I know the ins and outs of alternative schooling and will be a proud advocate of educational choice in St. Paul.

Jurgens: Six years of working for the good people of Hastings, Cottage Grove, and Afton in the Minnesota House, and decades of volunteer experiences in Washington and Dakota Counties.

6. What have you accomplished in public service?

Jurgens: I have been delivering the results my constituents have been asking for since my first year in office. I’ve already helped deliver the largest tax relief package passed in decades, so when I say I’ll return the surplus to the taxpayers, it will happen. Many were irate when Governor Walz forced many – but not all – local businesses to close at the start of the pandemic, telling me he was abusing his emergency powers. I helped end those powers and will work to ensure that it never happens again. But not all of my accomplishments have been at the state level. When Hastings officials told me that Mn-DOT was planning to raise speed limits on a dangerous section of Highway 316, I authored legislation that not only stopped the department from increasing speeds but eventually made safety improvements to the entire stretch of roadway. It’s just one of many local accomplishment stories I’ve helped put into state law. And, if you’re like me and tired of hearing about violent crime every night on the news, you’ll be interested to learn about my latest endorsement. Based on my strong support over the years for police legislation at the Capitol, I have been endorsed in this race by the MMPOA, the largest law enforcement association in the state.

Dippel: Despite my limited political involvement, I have been fairly active within my community and Church. I am always eager to volunteer my monetary or daily resources to events such as Feed My Starving Children and global Compassion Ministries for those in need.

7. What do you hope to accomplish in your first term should you win?

Dippel: When I get to St. Paul, I fully intend on delivering on my campaign promises – no matter how many politicians get upset. I believe urgent priorities include returning the remainder of the $9.25 billion budget surplus to the people, eliminating the income tax on social security, passing educational savings accounts, and fully funding and training our law enforcement.

Jurgens: Inflation that’s occurring in this Biden/ Walz economy is devastating Minnesotans. With cost-of-living prices soaring – food, gasoline, and energy costs have all skyrocketed – we have to allow low to middle class Minnesotans to keep more of what they earn.

Minnesota has a projected $10 billion budget surplus, and next session we must take this over-collection of your money and put it back in your hands through permanent and ongoing tax relief. Four years ago, I promised to return surplus funds to the taxpayers and delivered the largest tax cut package seen by Minnesotans in 20 years. If the voters support me in the upcoming primary, they can count on me to deliver tax relief again. I have been the chief author of the bill to eliminate state income tax on all social security benefits. My first priority in the Senate will be to finally get this legislation passed into law.

Minnesota has also seen a troubling increase in violent crime. In order for Minnesotans to feel safe in their communities, Minnesota needs to prioritize tougher sentences for violent criminals, and judges and prosecutors need to enforce current laws and not allow convicted felons back on the streets.

As your senator, I would prioritize holding violent criminals accountable for their crimes, continue to oppose radical efforts to defund police departments, and provide law enforcement with the support they need and the respect they deserve.

8. How can voters learn more about you and your campaign?

Jurgens: Visit tonyjurgens. com to learn more about where I stand on the issues, to learn about my community involvement, and to check out my recent endorsements. Residents should also contact me at [email protected] com if they have any questions prior to voting. My opponent is not being honest about votes I have taken during my time in the Minnesota House, and I’m told he is spreading these falsehoods in the mail and at the door. Much like any scam, if it sounds too crazy to be true it usually is. So, if anyone has questions or is puzzled about what they are hearing about my legislative record, please contact me and I’ll be happy to answer questions.

Dippel: I urge voters to reach out to me through my website, DippelforSenate. com, or find me on Facebook @Dippel2022.

9. Anything else we the voters should know?

Dippel: I am proud to be the only Republican Endorsed candidate in this race. My campaign has also been endorsed by conservative legislators who are also running for Minnesota Senate this year, like Representative Steve Drazkowski and Representative Cal Bahr. I am looking forward to working with them in St. Paul.

Jurgens: If there’s anything during my six years of service in the Minnesota House that I hope the people of Hastings, Cottage Grove, and Afton have recognized is that I’m a workhorse and not a show horse. I am going to listen and work with you as I’ve always done, not tell you how to think. I will fight for conservative principles in the Senate, and we will make positive change.

As your next state senator, I will continue to deliver on common sense priorities like providing tax relief and continuing to oppose nonsense like defunding the police and reducing sentences for violent criminals. There is too much at stake during this election cycle for residents to fall for empty campaign rhetoric and dishonest political mudslinging. While some politicians talk the talk, I’ve actually walked the walk, and am proud of my legislative record on tax cuts, prioritizing public safety, and protecting your freedoms.

It would be an honor to serve as your proven, conservative voice in the Minnesota Senate. Please vote Tony Jurgens for State Senate in the Republican primary on August 9.

— The Journal would like to thank both Tony Jurgens and Tom Dippel for taking the time to provide the thoughtful answers above. Remember to get out and vote in both the August 9 primary and the general election on November 8.

If you are unsure of where you are supposed to go to vote or who is all on the ballot for your area, visit pollfinder.sos.state.mn.us and follow the on-screen prompts. There you will be able to see all your election options as well as candidates that you can vote for.

August 3, 2022