HCREDC director David Collins files for Minnesota House 2B
Hubbard County Regional Economic Development Director David Collins is shaking up the Dist. 2B race for Minnesota House, running as an unendorsed Republican.
Collins filed for the seat Tuesday in the newly redistricted area that includes parts of Hubbard, Becker, Mahnomen, Otter Tail, Wadena and Clearwater counties.
Collins said he's been a political junkie and active Republican since grade school. He will face endorsed candidate Steve Green and DFL candidate for former DFL representative Brita Sailer.
Collins said the time seemed right.
"I believe I've got more experience now, more background, more to offer than I ever have," he said in an exclusive interview with the Enterprise Monday.
"I am running for state representative to use my rural economic development experience to help create jobs for Minnesotans, grow our economy, provide outstanding educational opportunities and employ common sense conservation practices to both wisely use and protect our environment," Collins' formal announcement stated.
"When I looked at it, it just wasn't the right time," he said. "I took a look at the new district lines back in February and it seemed like a good district. The more I looked at it I decided it was time for me to do this."
Collins has been HCREDC director for six years and has extensive experience working with state, federal and local governments.
He left a similar position in Clear Lake, Iowa, after meeting his future wife Talaine at a Buddy Holly remembrance concert there.
She is a Park Rapids banker. He'd been in Clear Lake a dozen years by then when the local opportunity became available.
Collins served as a legislative aide to a Nebraska senator and worked for years in the Nebraska Legislature, which is a unicameral body.
There, he learned to work across the aisle for change.
"It's time to bring civility and respect back to the legislature and put the interests of the people ahead of partisan bickering," Collins' announcement said. "Like many, I have strong opinions on many of the issues facing our state, but that doesn't mean cooperation and compromise have to be cast aside. Minnesota deserves better."
He cites the Park Rapids downtown project as an example, in which leaders sought two years of input from citizens and worked to incorporate their suggestions into the finished renovation.
Collins has worked for Chambers of Commerce in Pocatello, Id., and in Fulton, Mo., where he was also an economic development director.
He wants to promote broadband expansion and a TIF-inspired jobs program to give rural Minnesota more "tools in the toolbox for economic development."
He's pushing a Tax Increment Financing program on job creation that would be different from the federal and state programs for local employers. He said those programs are too restrictive.
"This program would work on job training for their firms," he explained. 'We need to put them in charge of that program and let them determine how they want to train those employees to meet their needs."
He said such a program would provide support without all of the administrative and regulatory strings attached.
You would take a percentage of the new income tax created and use a portion of that to focus on creating new jobs, retaining existing ones and job training, he said.
"Job training is going to be even more important," he said. "Now that the economy's improving, we hope, we're going to see that job market getting tighter and tighter and tighter and rural areas have got to be able to compete for those jobs.
"We have everything here," he added. "This is where people want to live" but the region needs better access to broadband and job training to lure those people here.
"This is a democracy and we represent all Minnesotans and if we keep getting further and further to the left and the right we're not going to get things done."