Lucero challenged by Kasel in GOP primary

by Paul Rignell
Contributing Writer
New candidates are up this fall to become state representative from House District 30B, which includes areas of Otsego, St. Michael, Albertville, Hanover and Dayton.
David FitzSimmons, a Republican legislator from Albertville, won the House 30B seat after redistricting in 2012. He did not, however, receive an endorsement from his party this year for a second term in St. Paul.
On the first ballot at a district convention, nearly three-fourths of all Republican delegates gave their endorsement in 2014 to Eric Lucero, a city council member from Dayton.
He is being challenged for the party’s nomination in House 30B by Kevin Kasel, a city council member from St. Michael.
They will square off in the Republican primary Aug. 12. Polls generally are open 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. that day.
On their respective campaign websites, Lucero and Kasel each list an endorsement from another Republican state legislator serving Senate District 30.
Lucero touts support from state Sen. Mary Kiffmeyer, of Big Lake, and Kasel notes his own backing from House District 30A state Rep. Nick Zerwas, of Elk River.
Whoever emerges from the Republican primary Aug. 12 in House District 30B, they will face Democratic challenger Sharon Shimek, of Otsego, in November’s general election.
Shimek is an experienced candidate who took her party’s nomination against FitzSimmons in 2012.

Here’s the answers to a questionnaire we sent to the two GOP primary candidates.

Eric Lucero
Address: Dayton, 14 years
Age: 36

Eric Lucero
Eric Lucero

Family: Erum, wife of 16 years
Occupation: Computer/Internet security specialist, college teacher, small business owner, licensed real estate agent, licensed general contractor
Previous experience in elected office: Dayton City Council and liaison to Public Safety Commission
Previous civic and community involvement: Bible teacher in church, Minnesota Gun Owners Civil Rights Alliance, prolife fundraisers
1. What prompted you to run for the House of Representatives?
Trust and accountability.
As a teacher with a passion for people, I have committed myself to helping others. People are increasingly of the opinion establishment politicians are disconnected from the grassroots.
The Establishment continues to say one thing and do another, create policies and laws which hurt families and businesses, and increasingly replace individual liberty with government coercion. The result is young people are being crushed with unmanageable debt, are seeing long standing opportunities begin to dim, and have a sense of hopelessness.
I am a member of the next generation who is committed to realigning government priorities, reigning in government spending, and restoring the trust young people deserve to have in their elected officials.
2. What do you hope to accomplish if elected? Fight for equity in education funding. Continuing the Corridors of Commerce grant program to fund I-94 to six lanes through Albertville. Restore job growth policies.
3. Why are you more qualified than your opponent?
My background as a small businesses owner, college teacher, licensed real estate agent, licensed general contractor, city council member and law enforcement give me valuable life experience to the issues of small businesses, education and the increased needs to prioritize roads and bridges.
When I knock on doors all over the district, people recognize the diverse background I will bring to the Legislature, which is why I received Republican endorsement with 74 percent from the grassroots.
Professional background as a computer security specialist, college instructor at Metropolitan State University and small business owner.
Academic background that includes a Master of Business Administration from the Carlson School of Management, a Bachelor of Science in law enforcement and a Bachelor of Science in computer forensics. Minors in mathematics and psychology.
4. What previous decisions of the House of Representatives have you liked or disliked and why?
In 2013, Gov. Dayton and the Democrat majority voted to raise taxes on hardworking families and businesses by nearly $2 billion. In 2014, Gov. Dayton and the Democrats voted to undo a small percent of the harmful taxes they raised the year before. Actions such as these create economic instability, paralyze businesses, prevent job creation and cause businesses to move out of state.
5. If you could draft any three pieces of legislation that would become law, what would they be?
Equity in education funding. Expanded roads and bridges transportation, such as adding a third lane in each direction to I-94 through Albertville. Pro job growth policies, such as eliminating the state income tax.
Ensuring fair education funding, reducing congestion on our roads and bridges, and reducing the tax burden on job creators will return Minnesota to a competitive business climate and help Minnesota families.

Kevin Kasel
Address: 4535 Melina Ave. NE, St. Michael, 55376
Age: 55

Kevin Kasel
Kevin Kasel

Family:  Linda, wife of 27 years; daughter Kayla and son Aaron.
Occupation: Self-employed – retail space and analytics consultant
Previous experience in elected office: St. Michael City Council 2007-present.
Previous civic and community involvement:   Former sergeant, United States Marine Corps Reserve. St. Michael Lions member since 2002. Former Scout leader and coach.
1. What prompted you to run for the House of Representatives?
Earlier this year I talked with numerous residents, community leaders and conservative activists on the need for a candidate with the experience, understanding of local issues, and leadership qualities necessary to represent us in the Legislature: equity funding for our schools (not more money but fixing the funding formulas), transportation, and stemming the tide of an increasingly expensive and complex state government.
As a result of these discussions I was encouraged and made the decision to file as a Republican candidate for the Minnesota House in District 30B.
2. What do you hope to accomplish if elected?
As a St. Michael City Council member, my focus has been budget and taxes, which is why the issue most important to our residents is the need for equity in school funding. Not more state money overall, but changes to the funding formulas. Last year, STMA school district received the lowest per pupil funding in the state, and the Elk River and BHM districts were not far behind. Our districts also face a similar issue with voter-approved levies. With roughly 50 percent of the state budget going to education, we can correct this problem. This will be my top priority.
3. Why are you more qualified than your opponent?
I have proven ability to work a member of a team and get things done. As a member of the St. Michael City Council, I have listened to residents and business owners while working with the mayor, fellow council members and staff to prioritize needs over wants and bring a clear, realistic set of short- and long-term expectations to the budget. As a result, the city enjoys the lowest tax rate in Wright County and high levels of resident and employee satisfaction.
I will bring the same vision, spirit of cooperation and focus to work as your representative.
4. What previous decisions of the House of Representatives have you liked or disliked and why?
I believe the last legislative session was full of bad decisions: over $2 billion in tax increases in 2013, increased spending, greater regulation and the funding of the new Senate office building. The Senate office building was probably one of the worst financial decisions in some time. I have been to the Capitol and visited members of both the House and Senate, and their offices are more than adequate for a part-time legislature. And last year to lower the price, they removed the public parking. It was simply a bad idea that just got worse.
5. If you could draft any three pieces of legislation that would become law, what would they be?
1. An equity in school funding bill with a voucher program.
2. Transportation bill expanding I-94 to St. Cloud and transferring the responsibility for light rail funding to the elected officials in the communities requesting light rail service.
3. Repeal of the ban on Sunday liquor sales.