Holly Neuman wants to be a voice for small business

Click here to read an archived story about Holly Neuman’s opponent, Nick Zerwas.

Click here to see a map of House District 30A.

She’s running for open seat in the Minnesota House of Representatives

by Joni Astrup

Associate editor

Holly Neuman was just a kid — 7 years old — when she started helping out at her family’s business.

Holly Neuman

She made photocopies and ran little errands in the early days, working her way up to more complex jobs at her family’s Bondhus Corp. manufacturing company in Monticello, where she worked until she went to college.

She learned a lot from those early experiences, and today Neuman is a business owner herself. She has a strong appreciation for small businesses and a desire to be an advocate for them is part of what has motivated her to run for an open seat in the Minnesota House of Representatives, District 30A. The district includes Elk River, Big Lake and a small part of Otsego.

“I want to give more of a voice to the small businesses,” Neuman explained.

Mom-and-pop stores are important, she said, and the money spent in those businesses typically stays in the community.

Small businesses also are a key part of the larger economy. Two out of every three American jobs are created by small businesses, she said.

But, Neuman said, many small businesses have failed due to unfair advantages and subsidies for large corporations. If a small business pays more in taxes than a large corporation, it is reflected in higher prices and they have a harder time competing, she said.

She would like to work for small businesses and  to protect the middle class as well. When the middle class thrives, everyone benefits, she said.

The DFL-endorsed candidate, Neuman is running against Republican Nick Zerwas of Elk River.

This is her first bid for public office, but Neuman brings a history of community involvement to the race.

One of her causes has been to reduce the speed limit on Highway 10 through Becker.

She and her mother, Joan Bondhus, have Pedal Inn Antiques there, and Neuman said traffic speeds on Highway 10 have been a safety issue. Their customers have told them they have trouble getting onto the busy highway safely.

Neuman worked to get the speed lowered and eventually got help from former state Sen. Lisa Fobbe, and the speed limit was reduced by 5 mph. Neuman said she’s continuing to work for further speed limit reductions.

She also lobbied for proper signage along Highway 10 for some of the main streets in Becker. She started a petition with other businesses and worked with the city, and eventually four large signs were installed.

“It took more than a year and a lot of persistence, but I feel it was all worth it because it has greatly helped many area businesses and people in the community,” she said.

She said she doesn’t give up easily.

Neuman also has recently worked on legislation to make health care records more accessible to adult children, after she was unable to get her father’s medical records following his death in 2006.

Neuman said Sen. Dave Brown carried a bill that would have helped the situation, but it narrowly missed passing the last session. Neuman testified at a committee hearing on the bill and intends to continue trying to get legislation enacted.

She said that experience is also part of what motivated her to get into politics.

“I do work in my own way to try to get things accomplished,” she said.

Born and raised in Monticello, Neuman studied graphic arts at Hennepin Technical College. She married in 1990 and moved to Wisconsin, where she had two daughters and served on the board of directors of a nonprofit center called Parent Place.

In 2000 she moved back to Minnesota to be closer to family. Together she and her husband, Dan, have five daughters and three grandchildren and live in Big Lake.

In 2002, Neuman and her mother purchased two buildings in Becker and started their antique mall. They rent space to independent business owners. Neuman is pleased that two of them have ventured off to start their own antique malls, helping grow more small businesses..