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Mankato Mayor John Brady, left, and John Gunyou, Lt. Gov. candidate under Margaret Anderson Kelliher, begin a walk Tuesday in downtown Mankato. Brady welcomed the dialogue.

The state and its cities have had what can be charitably described as a tense relationship over the past decade or so.

John Gunyou, the running mate for Democrat candidate for governor Margaret Anderson Kelliher, said his campaign would like to re-kindle that off-again romance.

“The state should not be treating local government like adversaries,” said Gunyou, who has been city manager of Minnetonka for the past decade.

He and Mankato Mayor John Brady took an hour-long walk around downtown Mankato Tuesday.

After a stroll through the Verizon Wireless Center, the pair went into United Prairie Bank and made small talk with personal banker Missy McGraw about bank operations and its building restoration project.

McGraw isn’t a political junkie, but she did say she joined her co-workers in writing letters to Gov. Tim Pawlenty asking him to support a performing arts add-on to the civic center. The governor line-item vetoed the spending.

The conversation inevitably found its way to local government aid, or LGA, that all-important state money doled out to communities. LGA once made up 45 percent of Mankato’s general fund, but it has fallen in recent years and now accounts for just a quarter, City Manager Pat Hentges told Gunyou.

Minnetonka does not receive local government aid.

The city has more than twice the tax capacity per capita as Mankato ($1,841 vs. $875) and much less debt per capita ($353 vs. $19). All figures are taken using 2008 budgets from the Office of the State Auditor.

Minnetonka does, however, receive other property tax credits that have been cut.

Gunyou said Minnetonka cut staff by 6 percent last year.

“We’re very supportive of the LGA program,” he said.

Gunyou and Brady walked through the Raydiance Salon in the Mankato Place Mall, then Gunyou stopped by the DFL headquarters to talk to staffers and volunteers.

Visits like these are in some ways staged media events, but on Tuesday the pair seemed to be amiable enough. They chatted about Gunyou’s home renovation, Brady’s daughter.

The campaign has advertised its budget strategy as a golden mean: Not as cut-heavy as Republican Tom Emmer or as tax-heavy as DFL rival Mark Dayton.

Gunyou didn’t name specific cuts they plan to make.

“I can’t give you an easy answer,” he said.

Line-by-line budget analysis and collaboration like his city’s recreation department pact with Hopkins provide some answers, he said.

 

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