“I raised my hand and said, ‘I want to help,” she said in her closing statement. “... And I’m still raising my hand and saying, ‘I want to help.’”
A 12-year veteran of the Army National Guard, Shunkwiler said he believes he’s had the best leadership training available anywhere in the world via the U.S. military and wants to offer those skills in the Legislature. A native of southwestern Minnesota’s Edgerton, he grew up on a farm and has worked as a counselor and at the St. Peter Regional Treatment Center. He’s currently finishing his doctorate in counselor education at MSU.
While Shunkwiler stressed common Republican ideals about holding the line on taxes, getting out of the way of the business community and more tightly focusing state spending, he said he would actively avoid partisanship if elected to the House.
“One of the things that has been hard on me in this process is meeting with people and being pigeon-holed into this two-party system,” he said, recalling a door-knocking encounter with a district resident who cut him off as soon as she learned he was a Republican. “... She told me she hated everything that I stood for. I hadn’t said one word out of my mouth.”
Shunkwiler said that he opposes the marriage amendment (“... which has been an unpopular stand within my party”), supports more funding for higher education to reduce college class sizes and would fight to get state funding for Mankato’s civic center expansion project. On the latter issue, he said he disagrees with state bonding for individual projects but — as long as the bonding process is doling out dollars for communities around Minnesota — would work to help Mankato get funding for legitimate projects.
Brynaert echoed many of the themes she — and other area Democrats — have presented to voters in recent elections: Minnesota needs to honestly address its recurring budget shortfalls, including raising more tax revenue, rather than using school-funding shifts, borrowing against future revenue and other accounting gimmicks to push the problem into the next two-year budget cycle.