Laker primary coverage: Senate District 33 candidates

During the Aug. 14 primary, GOP voters in Senate District 33 will choose between two candidates to who will represent the party in the November election.

The candidates are Connie Doepke, the current House District 33B representative, and Dave Osmek, the party-endorsed candidate in the race.

Senate District 33 includes the cities of Corcoran, Deephaven, Excelsior, Greenfield, Greenwood, Independence, Long Lake, Loretto, Maple Plain, Medina, Minnetonka Beach, Minnetrista, Mound, Orono, Shorewood, Spring Park, St. Bonifacius, Tonka Bay, Wayzata and parts of Chanhassen.

Connie Doepke

Address: 265 Hollander Road, Orono

Family: Husband, Mark; two children

Education: B.A. in communication, Michigan State University

Occupation: 20 years as a direct marketing industry executive; 10 years and an officer

Years lived in the district: 18

Community-civic involvement: 8 years on Wayzata School Board; 14 years as an active member of local chambers of commerce, including chair of the Business-Education partnership and Board member for the TwinWest Chamber of Commerce; appointed by Gov. Tim Pawlenty to serve on Board of Minnesota Humanities Center

Q: What do you feel separates you from your primary opponent?

A: I have already served in the legislature for 4 years in the House of Representatives for this district.

I have a proven record of helping turn a $6.1 billion state deficit into a $1.2 billion surplus in less than one year through reform and spending reductions, without raising taxes.

I am the only candidate running for office in the entire District 33 that has a proven record of experience in education. I currently serve as vice-chair of Education Reform Committee. While a strong advocate for school choice and holding the line in education spending, I have taken a prominent lead in "student centered "reform that will have long-term positive fiscal effect on our schools, while improving outcomes. Our district will benefit from my experience.

Q: What do you feel are some of the major issues facing the constituents of the district?

A: The most important issues facing our state are economic recovery and education reform.

I understand that business is the engine that drives our economy and creates jobs. I support efforts to provide tax and regulatory relief to all businesses in order for them to prosper.

In education, it is time for real reform, pouring more money into a system that is failing a large percentage of its students can no longer be tolerated. I support innovation that focuses on improving outcomes for our children, putting them on a pathway to success.

Finally, I recognize that our lakes are a cherished natural resource. We need to respect both the private and public interests of those who use these resources for enjoyment now, and for future generations.

Q: If elected in November, what would be at the top of your list of priorities?

A: Making Minnesota a "right to work" state.

Tax and Regulatory relief for businesses in order to grow jobs.

End "seniority" as the only reason to retain teachers when reductions are necessary.

Continue to make government smaller and cost effective.

Continued work on water issues for our district, especially the spread and control of aquatic invasive species.

Dave Osmek

Address: 4933 Crestview Road, Mound

Contact info: 952-472-1238

Family: Wife, Kari; two daughters

Education: Graduate of St. Cloud State University

Occupation: Project manager, Optum-UHG

Years lived in the district: 17

Community-civic involvement: Mound City Council, 2001-present; member of Our Lady of the Lake Church, Knights of Columbus, Gillespie Center volunteer

Q: What do you feel separates you from your primary opponent?

A: My 10 years of experience on the Mound council – I offer the voters a very seasoned and experienced elected official that has been a leader in budgeting and actually reforming government. As the council liaison, I led the effort to make Mound work more efficiently with reduced tax dollars.

With my business analyst background and project leadership experience in serving over 120,000 military servicemen and their families, I offer the voters a unique blend of private sector experience and public sector knowledge.

Our government can be more efficient, prioritize and economize, and still deliver what we expect. You should expect a leader, bringing creative ideas to the table. Not just a follower, who simply votes and brings no value to battle for your principles.

Q: What do you feel are some of the major issues facing the constituents of the district?

A: In door-knocking across the district, one theme is clear: our state must learn to live within its means and raising taxes isn’t an option.

All levels of government must begin to realize that the way we did things 10 years ago will not be the way we do things 10 years from now.

Transportation is an important issue. Focusing resources on reducing bottle necks and creating new lane miles is more important than creating new light rail lines that do little to relieve traffic congestion.

Education is also critical to Minnesota’s long-term success. We invest in our students by what we require of our teachers. Giving school districts the ability to reward innovation and retain successful teachers, regardless of tenure, should be supported.

Q: If elected in November, what would be at the top of your list of priorities?

A: State Budgeting. As the budget liaison for my council, I am deeply involved in prioritizing what we need to do versus what we want to do. We must start with a goal of actually reducing spending versus automatic increases.

Right to Work. I am a firm believer that people need to have the choice to join a union or not.

Fighting tax increases. My opponent in the primary supports extending the sales tax into internet purchases and creating mileage-based user fees on our cars. The only people that lose in this are the taxpayers. I don’t pay lip service to the phrase "Making government live within its means." I actually believe in it.

Reducing the corporate tax rate, unleashing the private sector and creating jobs.