Audio: Legislators Kelby Woodard and Al DeKruif at NDDC/Chamber forum


  1. Ray Cox said:

    I really appreciated the updates from our area legislators, and was pleased to see such a good crowd at the event. Both these gentlemen seem to have a good grasp of the situation Minnesota is in and have a real desire to go to work to improve our situation.
    I thought Kelby’s comments on ‘qualified economic’ offers for school districts was good.

    February 7, 2011
  2. Paul Zorn said:

    I listened to (most of) the discussion online, so would defer as regards atmosphere, the crowed, etc. to people who attended.

    My overall impression was less rosy than Ray’s.

    No doubt Messrs W and D have a “real desire” to work toward goals they think would improve our situation. And they seem like mainly pleasant guys, good family men, etc. (Senator D’s grudging description of our former senator, Kevin Dahle, as a “good resident of Northfield” struck me as lame, but maybe it was a rookie error.)

    Nothing against these guys ad hominem, but I was disappointed that on the one really big issue — meeting budget challenges over the next biennium and beyond — they offered more slogans and anecdotes than thoughtful, nuanced, or broad-based discussion.

    Sen. D, for instance, warned again of socialism, and Rep. W recited the standard mantras on a-spending-problem-not-a-revenue-problem and let-the-private-sector-fix-health-care. Some anecdotes (let’s sell the state’s garbage truck at the Capital and a golf course or two) were also offered; fair enough, but hardly proportional to the problem.

    To be fair, it’s difficult in one short meeting to address large issues in breadth and depth. Perhaps our Senator and Representative could participate, right here on LGN, in a more sustained form.

    February 7, 2011
  3. David Ludescher said:


    I thought the most interesting observation by Sen. D and Rep. W. was that Northfield doesn’t have a representative at the Legislature for the first time in many years (I think they said 30 years).

    February 7, 2011
  4. David Beimers said:

    I contacted both Rep. Woodard and Sen. DeKruif last week about proposed cuts to higher ed. Rep. Woodard provided a respectful, prompt response, even though we have differences of opinion on the issue in question. No answer from Sen. DeKruif. Given his “creeping socialism” comment, I don’t hold out much hope of even engaging him in a meaningful conversation.

    February 7, 2011
  5. Bruce Morlan said:

    Well, when I point out that almost half the state does not have a Senator in Washington I also remind people that in the original design of our government they would have had a chance to be represented because Federal Senators were as chosen by the legislature. In a spirit of compromise maybe we would have split our representation to reflect our nearly even split as revealed in the election. (Am I an optimist or what?). But the fact is that we don’t do it that way so we have to rely on the good intentions of the elected. I think that both of these officials are going to be as good as our former representation was in listening to all sides and we should not confuse their sound bites with their policies.

    February 8, 2011
  6. Paul Zorn said:


    Not sure I really get your point, but I don’t think anyone’s suggested that we should automatically have Northfield residents as district representatives. I read David L’s point (his call, of course) as a lament that in more than an hour these solons had nothing more interesting to say.

    This is not about anyone’s “good intentions” — it’s about policies. Your warning against confusing sound bites with policies is well taken; I hope Rep W and Sen D will take it to heart. Last Friday’s NDDC forum wasn’t a good start. If not at such events, when?

    February 8, 2011
  7. David Ludescher said:


    It wasn’t a lament so much as an observation that the lack of representatives here may have a greater impact upon Northfield than the political party of the representatives.

    February 8, 2011
  8. David Beimers said:

    I think Kelby Woodard’s point was that for the past several decades, Northfield has always had a resident (regardless of party affiliation) serving in the legislature. Northfield is now represented by two legislators who each live on the other end of the district. They won’t necessarily know our community, or the local issues, or the businesses and citizens for that matter, to the degree that a Northfield resident would.

    February 8, 2011
  9. David Ludescher said:


    I agree. The non-resident legislator probably means no “pork” coming to Northfield.

    February 8, 2011
  10. Griff Wigley said:

    Al DeKruif had a commentary in the Nfld News on Feb. 1: Early update on the Legislative session

    Additionally, I am proud to be a co-author on three very important bills: Senate File 2, a bill that will provide immediate relief and set the stage for making the “Green Acres” agricultural land property tax law more consistent statewide; Senate File 4, lifting the 17-year ban on permitting new nuclear power plants and opening the door for discussion of nuclear as an option in Minnesota’s energy future; and Senate File 41, providing income tax breaks for retired veterans.

    February 9, 2011
  11. Griff Wigley said:

    Paul, were you happy with the format of the forum? I’m wondering whether it was a factor in not having the “thoughtful, nuanced, or broad-based discussion” that you said you were hoping for.

    February 9, 2011
  12. Paul Zorn said:


    Having only listened to the forum, and after the fact, I can’t judge how well the format worked (e.g., to engage the crowd) as well as might others who were there.

    So much said, here are some of my druthers:

    First, the format should be more oriented to questions and answers and less “stage-managed” by the guests of honor. Sure, they should introduce themselves and briefly describe their general ideas. But a lot of the time should go to questions and answers.

    Second, these things might work better with a moderator who’s able and determined to focus discussions, keep the guests on track, follow up on questions respectfully but assertively, maintain some time-keeping function, cut off rambling anecdotes, etc. (Yes, this would be difficult to do.)

    Third, I’d prefer an event that’s more sharply focused on one or two big issues (e.g., budget and schools) rather than being vaguely about everything to do with state government.

    February 9, 2011
  13. Steph Henriksen said:

    Artful dodger

    Rep. Kelby Woodard spoke at Bridgewater Twp meeting last night and answered questions. He said it was the busiest session ever, accdg to lobbyists, with 500 bills introduced. He said $800 million in cuts were in order and when they saw the Governor’s budget (next week?) they would go through it line by line.

    He spoke of eliminating mandates (HF7) at the request of local govts and schools. I asked how the equal pay for women got taken out (Chamber of Commerce lobbied for that) and he said the rule was old. He thought Office of Econ. Status of Women kept sufficient track. I really don’t accept that explanation.

    A member of the township board asked that he watch for bills weakening township control, since we have those every year. Someone noted that school enrollment is dropping, resulting in school closures.

    On freezing public employees salaries, he said Senate took it out, but it could reappear. There was a question on HF208 affecting teacher negotiations he was unaware of. On Green Acres, he said repeal everything back to 2008. There was concern over court decisions on variances. Also, taxing of ag land.

    He spoke rapidfire, hard to follow at times. I’d call him a very artful dodger (fielding questions), business like, yet approachable.

    NOTE: Woodard and DeKruif will be at Village on Cannon Friday, 5-7 pm (LWV). There will be desserts and coffee.

    February 10, 2011
  14. Ray Cox said:

    It is very difficult for legislators to address all constituents in the manner they like. Some appreciate a lengthy presentation that touches on many things. Some like a lengthy presentation that touches on 1 or 2 subjects. Others like very short introductions and just want a long Q&A session. As I said at the start of this thread, I thought our legislators did an excellent job blending conditions. We scheduled 1.5 hours and I’d say half of it was used on audience questions.

    As far as Northfield suffering from not having a legislator, I don’t think that will be an issue. Both legislators are very committed to being here often, responding to constituents, and working with other public officials. They both spent a tremendous amount of time here during the election period and they continue to be here on a regular basis. There isn’t really much in the way of ‘bacon’ to bring home to Northfield. It is much more important to work on the many constituent issues that seem to always need attention. I’m sure our legislators will do a fine job representing Northfield

    February 10, 2011
  15. David Ludescher said:


    I agree that these guys will do a fine job. However, I think it will be hard to get their attention for projects like the Mill Towns Trail. For example, Woodard didn’t have much sympathy for Northfield and the LGA cuts.

    February 11, 2011
  16. Paul Zorn said:

    Ray, David,

    True, there’s no way to choose a format (or anything else) that will please everyone. That comes with the territory.

    I don’t really expect Rep W and Sen D to structure their constituent meetings according to my own preferences. I do expect that, whatever the format, they’ll engage tough questions straightforwardly, acknowledging complexity, minimizing spin, and eschewing simplistic rhetoric.

    Will “these guys” really do a “fine job”? I’d say it’s too early to tell, but the signs are mixed.

    February 11, 2011
  17. Ray Cox said:

    Actually David, I think our legislators will do all they can to support the Milltowns Trail. As they were running for office I carefully reviewed what Tom N and I had done for the early trail work. Sen. DeKruif has a campground on the edge of Sakatah Trail and knows first hand the value of quality trails connection communities. Rep Woodard uses the trails near Belle Plaine with his family on a regular basis and again, understands the value of trails. I facilitated a meeting between Peg Prowe and Rep. Woodard earlier this month that Peg reported back to me was ‘very productive and encouraging.’ I have great confidence that these two men will represent Northfield in a good fashion.

    As far as LGA cuts, I imagine Rep Woodard was simply noting the hard realities of our economic situation….namely that the largess of LGA will most likely be sigificantly reduced. And I am one that does not find that terribly upsetting, as long as the community leaders accept the responsibility of making corresponding budget reductions to city budgets. It appears that Northfield leaders are accepting this challenge…but maybe a tad bit slower than they will need the modifications done.

    February 11, 2011

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