A tale of two cities…
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was…” -Charles Dickens
With just days until the 2014 election, Minnesota candidates were just required to submit their campaign financial data to the state to make it public record. In my district, 58, Lakeville/Farmington and most of the rest of Southern Dakota County, the campaigns on the A and B sides are vastly different.
On the 58A side, which is most of Lakeville, Amy Willingham and Jon Koznick are competing against each other to win the open seat vacated by Rep. Mary Liz Holberg. The two candidates are very evenly matched in donations, with Koznick edging out Willingham $41,964.77 to $41,558.29. Together they have collected over $83,000! That is a huge number in our area. To put that in perspective, in 2012, Mary Liz Holberg and Colin Lee raised $26,433 collectively, and if you add in the 58th district senate race between Dave Thompson and Andrew Brobston, the total for all four candidates was $68,291. Willingham and Koznick, have spent more than those four candidates raised in 2012.
On the other side of the district in 58B, the numbers are nowhere similar. Incumbent Rep. Pat Garofalo has raised $13,038 this year, of course he started the year with over $52,000 in the bank, so he didn’t have to raise much, and Marla Vagts raised $7,065. Together they raised just over $20,000, and one quarter of that was from the state public subsidy.
In summary, A side = $83,000. B side = $20,000.
It is understandable, that the A side would be higher, it is an open and contested seat, but there is another side to look at on the A side. Both Willingham and Koznick have received over $5,000 each in individual identified donations from outside the district, and combined, have received over $10,000 from PACs and lobbyists. In addition, together they have over $35,000 in unidentified donations, which probably increases those outside the district contributions.
Of course that is not surprising. There are so many groups trying to influence elections, I expect it. But that does not make it right. Koznick and Willingham have raised more money from outside the district, than Garofalo and Vagts have raised total. There is a fundamental problem with our election system when other people outside the district have as big of an impact on the election as the local voters – if not a bigger impact on the election.
When I hear people say government doesn’t work, well get a clue! Where do you think it starts? Right here, right now, on November 4th, and the 6-10 months leading up to that day. If we want government to work, our election system needs to change to be about local voters, and local voters only!