Senate District 5: Voters want someone who can relate, Anderson says
Anderson said his deep local roots stand in contrast to his opponents seeking to be the sole Republican on the Senate District 5 ballot in November.
BRAINERD — Dale A. P. Anderson believes his neighbors should be represented by someone who relates to their rural lives — and that person is him.
“The politicians are out of touch with what’s happening in their own backyard. They're more concerned about what’s in it for them when they go to St. Paul than what's in it for their neighbor,” Anderson said during an interview Monday, July 11. “ … I'm doing this because I care about the elderly that are suffering that nobody does anything for. And if you ain't a part of the community, you can't relate to their suffering.”
Anderson, 52, said he relates to the suffering of poverty, having grown up in the Pine River area without running water or a washing machine. He and his wife call a small farm in rural Pine River home today, and their three children — along with six grandchildren and three great-grandchildren — remain in the area. Anderson said his deep local roots stand in contrast to his opponents seeking to be the sole Republican on the Senate District 5 ballot in November.
Anderson spent 13 years as an auto mechanic before working as a truck driver in the 30 years since, the first 15 of those years spent over the road. He’s also a nondenominational pastor and spent time in Houston, Texas, assisting with outreach to homeless populations.
He was elected mayor of Pine River in 2004, serving for one year before his father’s declining health forced him to refocus his priorities. But he said he has a long history of political involvement behind the scenes, including helping his twin brother seek statewide office and getting out the vote for numerous Republican candidates.
Anderson is a lifelong conservative and carries the fundamental beliefs of the Republican Party, such as anti-abortion views and strong support of the Second Amendment. But he said he stands out as a candidate because he doesn’t rely solely on appealing to people’s party politics, instead aiming to present solutions to problems he believes are hurting Minnesotans across the board.
“I could take my whole platform off the Republican website just like they do, but I didn’t. I chose to be different. I want to come up with solutions,” Anderson said. “ … When I think there’s a problem, I try to come up with a solution at the same time, whether it’s going to be a compromise between me and the Democrat that sits next to me, or whether we’re gonna have to buckle down and cut taxes, or even increase taxes.
“The guy that got me into politics was Ronald Reagan. He was a man that said he was against taxes. But he raised taxes. When you need to raise taxes, you raise taxes. When you don’t need to raise taxes, you cut them.”
Still, Anderson said he’s strongly motivated by reducing the tax burden on people of the district — whether that be taxes on Social Security, property taxes or school levies. This is especially the case for senior citizens, he said, who have already contributed much to society and deserve to live without fear of losing their homes. Businesses should also see tax cuts to avoid the state losing employers to surrounding states, and struggling small family farms need greater support to prevent them from shuttering.
To do that, he said the Legislature needs to take a hard look at the structure of government, reducing the budgets of state agencies where overlap exists and making every tax dollar count. Returning tax-forfeited properties to the tax rolls would also help fill the gap, Anderson said, but it comes down to the government living within the same means it expects its citizens to live.
“Part of it is fixing what isn't working and expanding what is working,” Anderson said. “ … And we need to look at it, we need to prioritize the spending, because I think government should do the same as we are asked to do. I’m expected to do more with less, we should expect all facets of the government to do the same thing.”
Anderson said he believes more control should be handed to local communities and he would support stopping unfunded state mandates he sees as shifting responsibility. These communities, he said, have a better idea of the needs of their residents — whether that be affordable housing, educational priorities or desire for growth.
When it comes to housing, Anderson said the state should offer more attractive tax incentives to potential developers to encourage an increase in housing stock, but particularly homes that are affordable to first-time buyers or other low- to middle-class people. He also believes the Legislature should pressure the federal government to invest more developmental resources into rural areas rather than focus dollars toward urban communities.
Education is a topic Anderson spends a lot of time thinking about, and he said it’s another area where money is wasted for little benefit. Teachers’ unions drive the conversation, he said, resulting in too much spent on teachers’ salaries and not enough on students themselves.
Technical education and offering routes to apprenticeships and trades for the future workforce should be a priority, he said, and he’d like to see the state put more emphasis on the importance of training students for more than just pursuit of a four-year degree.
“If they only have to go to school for two years, they wouldn’t have $100,000 worth of education debt that everybody’s clamoring for everybody to get forgiven,” Anderson said. “So they have to focus on priorities and what’s best for the students — not what's best for the teachers, for the students. And I don't think they focus enough in this area on trades and apprenticeships.”
Anderson’s other goals include changes to elections, including eliminating mail ballots, requiring voter ID and returning to absentee voting only with an excuse. Improving public safety is necessary, he said, and that should be done by ensuring law enforcement has the funding it needs instead of taking that funding away. He’d also like to see a more sensible approach to alternative energy development and would support the state investing in hydrogen and nuclear power instead of wind and solar.
Anderson said if abortion were outlawed in the state — which would be his desire — the foster care and adoption systems should become more streamlined and accessible, and more teeth should be put into laws addressing child support requirements.
“Maybe women would be less likely to think that they have to abort, because they would have an option,” Anderson said. “ … If there was a list of already willing parents who are willing to adopt them, and they knew that they could put their child into a good home, then I think a lot of more women would bring their pregnancies to full term.”
He noted his views on abortion are an example of his willingness to compromise. He personally believes in allowing no exceptions but is willing to compromise in the case of rape and incest. If elected, he would try to achieve bipartisan compromise on everything, he said.
“There’s no, ‘It’s my way or the highway.’ We’ve had too much gridlock in the state Capitol,” Anderson said. “ … A true conservative always knows that you hold to your ideals and your morals, but you have to be willing to compromise.”