The Free Press, Mankato, MN

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October 25, 2012

House District 24A candidates pledge to use listening skills

WASECA — Ask a 2012 candidate for the Minnesota Legislature why they’re running and why they think they’re the wisest option for voters, and they almost invariably will zero in on the state budget, taxes and how their approach to finances is a better deal for most Minnesotans.

The race in House District 24A is different.

Take Republican John Petersburg.

“What I’m really talking to the community about is skills,” Petersburg said, “my ability to bring people together, the ability to be inclusive. And I tend to think outside the box and come up with alternatives that are able to be supported by many individuals.”

Here’s Democrat Craig Brenden.

“I’m frustrated with the gridlock that has become the underlying current of what happens in our state Legislature,” Brenden said. “ ... I’m going to be one of the voices that says, ‘We can do this. But we’ve got to be able to sit down and talk and not fight.’”

Both candidates also promise to use their ears more and their mouths less compared to other politicians.

“My general philosophy is listen first, debate second and then decide,” Petersburg said. “I don’t come into any discussion thinking I know the answer up front.”

And Brenden?

“You have to be able to sit down and listen,” he said. “If you listen, you can ask questions: How does this affect you? How does this affect your community? How does this affect your quality of life?”

But even with both men promising to be peaceful mediators rather than political gladiators, there are differences voters can weigh when making their selection about who is going to succeed retiring Rep. Kory Kath, DFL-Owatonna.

Sure, both are Wasecans, both were farmers before changing careers, both say they would be very reluctant to raise taxes, and both say a top  priority is upgrading Highway 14 to four lanes all the way from Rochester to New Ulm. But their backgrounds are different and there are distinctions in their priorities.

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