Tag Archives: Keith Pickering

Chaska Area Election Results and Quick Analysis

State Senate District 47:  Julianne Ortman (63.8%) def. Jim Weygand (36.0%)

State House District 47A:  Ernie Leidiger (62.5%) def. Keith Pickering (37.3%)

The two challenged legislative incumbents cruise to victories with margins somewhat smaller than 2010.  Probably the biggest change for Ortman, Leidiger, and Joe Hoppe (who was unopposed in House District 47B) is that they will be working again from the legislative minorities, as the DFL flipped the script on the GOP and retook both houses of the Legislature.  In fact, with the current results showing the DFL having a 39-28 lead in the Senate and 73-61 in the House, the DFL is poised to have larger majorities the next two years than the Republicans did in the previous two.

This will mean a significant loss in power for Ortman and Hoppe, who chaired committees when in the majority, but both will still be well-positioned to work on a bipartisan basis on critical issues.  Although Ortman and the DFL majorities are out of step on many tax issues, fulfilling the promise of fundamental tax reform will require hard work from both parties to craft the best solution.  Hoppe has worked well with many DFLers in the past, including Rep. Joe Atkins, who may very well end up taking the gavel on the Commerce Committee.

This will also be a challenge for Leidiger.  His first term was rather unproductive (only one bill signed into law, placing him in the bottom quarter of the GOP freshmen), and that was with a Republican majority.  Is Leidiger only interested in being a lightning rod backbencher, or is he capable of more?  If he is capable of more, now is the time to show it.

Carver County Commissioner District 1:  Gayle Degler (60.6%) def. John Siegfried (38.7%)

Carver County Commissioner District 2:  Tom Workman (58.1%) def. Cheryl Ayotte (41.5%)

Carver County Commissioner District 3:  Randy Maluchnik (67.0%) def. Vince Beaudette (32.3%)

Carver County Commissioner District 4:  Tim Lynch (63.4%) def. Frank Long (36.2%)

Carver County Commissioner District 5:  Jim Ische (53.3%) def. Jim Walter (46.3%)

The five incumbents all win re-election.  The notable thing here is that for the second cycle in a row, the Republican-endorsed challengers all lost.  As I’ve said before, this is a losing strategy for the local Republican Party.  County issues are not partisan issues, and voters don’t appreciate partisan warfare being brought where it doesn’t belong.

Eastern Carver County School Board:  Heather Nelson (25.0%), Amy Logue (24.0%) and Jeff Ross (19.2%) def. Jim Leone (17.8%) and Larry Doran (13.4%).

The housecleaning is complete with this vote, as Jim Leone is the last long-term incumbent on the Board is swept out of office.  Highly qualified newcomers Logue and Ross join Nelson (who won election to reduced term in 2010) on the Board.

Chaska Mayor:  Mark Windschitl (67.8%) def. Richard Swanson (31.1%)

This was a clear show of support for the current city leadership.  Windschitl has grown greatly on the job the last three years, and Swanson’s failure to provide a clear case for change and his tax issues didn’t help his cause.

More analysis to come, including looking at the statewide races and constitutional amendments.



Don’t let Ernie Leidiger fly under the radar

Let’s face it, the last few months haven’t been that great for Ernie Leidiger.  His tax issues and rank hypocrisy on government involvement in the private sector have been exposed for all to see in the middle of a re-election campaign.

So how has Leidiger been dealing with these problems?  By trying to keep his head down, staying out of sight, and trying to cruise to a victory based solely on the “R” behind his name.  Even some local conservatives have been muttering about Ernie’s low profile.

His campaign website is an embarrassing shambles that apparently hasn’t been updated since January and still refers to his old House District number of 34A.  He ducked the League of Women Voters candidate forum after his ridiculous behavior at a LWV Voter ID forum was exposed, leaving tomorrow’s Waconia Rotary/Waconia Chamber of Commerce/Waconia Patriot event at Island View Golf Club as the only one-on-one appearance with his opponent, Keith Pickering.  Too bad that interested voters have to pay $10 to gain entrance to that event, as opposed to the LWV forum which not only was free to attend but would have been recorded for on-demand online viewing.

It’s almost as if Leidiger doesn’t want to make himself available to voters. While this may be smart campaign strategy given his propensity for foot-in-mouth statements, it’s really not the sort of behavior we should be rewarding in our public officials.

Leidiger did surface once recently, though, seeking to protect himself by using religion as a shield.  Two weeks ago, Leidiger made one of his infamous campaign-season appearances at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Waconia to campaign on behalf of the marriage amendment.  Classy as always.

The sad reality for Carver County residents is that there’s only one way to stop this sort of self-serving and embarrassing behavior, and that’s to vote Leidiger out of office.  In two weeks, you have that opportunity and you should not let it slip away.

Leidiger defaults on SBA loan; taxpayers left holding the bill

Brick City Blog has confirmed that State Rep. Ernie Leidiger’s business Jelco Parts, Inc., has defaulted on its $500,000 government guaranteed Small Business Administration (SBA) loan.  Based on the information we already knew about Leidiger’s business troubles, this is not a surprising revelation.  Under the terms of the Patriot Express loan program that Leidiger took advantage of, the federal government guaranteed up to $450,000 of the loan.  The final amount that the government ended up paying related to this default was redacted by the SBA.

What is surprising is how quickly Jelco Parts went into default after receiving the loan.  SBA documents show that Jelco Parts, Inc. was considered in default by its lender, Crow River Bank, by July 25, 2010.  That’s only 11 months after the loan was finalized (August 26, 2009).  Typically, loan payments have to be delinquent for at least nine months in order for a loan to be considered in default (closing the business can also trigger a default, and documents from the lender in March 2011 requesting that the SBA pay off the remaining loan amount indicate the business was considered closed at that time.

The question that arises out of this timeline is:  where did all the money go?  Jelco Parts burned through a substantial amount of money in a year, and didn’t pay its taxes or make its loan payments during that time.  Interestingly, included in the SBA documents was information about a September 2009 fire at the Leidiger property in Camden Township.  The house that was on the property was substantially damaged in the fire, and a new one was built in 2010.

Ernie Leidiger owes us a complete accounting of his business troubles, and give us a complete explanation of why we should trust him to responsibly handle the affairs of state government when he appears to be doing such a dismal job of keeping his own affairs in order. The Waconia Rotary Club, the Waconia Chamber of Commerce and the Waconia Patriot are hosing a candidate forum on Wednesday, October 24 for Leidiger and his DFL opponent Keith Pickering (as well as State Senate candidates Julianne Ortman and Jim Weygand).  We hope Leidiger will use that forum to give a forthright accounting of the situation with a complete acceptance of personal responsbility, as opposed to continuing to blame others for his failures.

Brick City Blog Endorsement: Keith Pickering for State House 47A

I am pleased to announce the endorsement of Keith Pickering for State House in District 47A.  Anyone who reads this blog will not find this to be much of a surprise, given the numerous things we know about his opponent, State Rep. Ernie Leidiger.  And, in fact, one could construct an argument to support Pickering based solely on the disastrous record Leidiger has put up in his single term in the state legislature.

But there’s also a positive case to be made for Keith Pickering.  So let me tell you a few things about him.  Pickering does not have the usual background of a state legislator.  He recently retired after a long career in the information technology field.  He’s a historian — an accomplished and recognized expert of the journeys of Christopher Columbus principally — but has also written about Minnesota explorer Ralph Plaisted.

Pickering is a long-time Watertown resident.  He knows this area inside and out.  His background as a systems analyst means he loves data and facts.  We need more folks in the state legislature who can take problems apart and apply logic to them as opposed to shooting from the hip and having only a talking-point deep understanding of the issues our state faces.

Pickering is a moderate, who is committed to working together to solve the problems that face out state instead of engaging in all-out partisan warfare.  Regardless of which party ends up holding the legislative majorities after November’s election, it seems likely that both houses are going to be closely divided.  If we expect the people’s work to get done, we need pragmatic and principled leaders willing to do the hard work required to reach compromise.  Keith Pickering will be one of those leaders.  We have had enough of backbenchers who don’t contribute to solving our state’s problems.

Carver County, you have a choice in this election.  I encourage you to find out more about Keith Pickering, and his vision for honest and balanced leadership.  Visit his website — www.keithpickering.com — to learn about his views.  And then, I urge you to vote for him on November 6.

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