Letter to the Editor: Franson not a good representative for the people of 8B
Rep. Mary Franson does not represent Greater Minnesota values and, by her own admission, will not have a strong voice for her constituents in House District 8B if she is re-elected.
While Rep. Franson has made embarrassing headlines nationally and statewide for, among other things, comparing her constituents who receive food assistance to wild animals (a claim she repeated even after "apologizing" for it on social media) and baselessly accusing Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe of plotting against her re-election bid, her record in the legislature shows she has not been an effective legislator for rural Minnesota.
Even if Rep. Franson decided suddenly to start paying attention to Alexandria, Osakis, Ottertail, Parkers Prairie, and New York Mills, it's unlikely her ineffectiveness would change. At the event during which she repeated her comparison of assistance recipients to wild animals, Rep. Franson admitted that members of her own party did not support her and distanced themselves from her.
It's easy to see why her colleagues would keep their distance. They know many of Rep. Franson's constituents are hard-working people who occasionally need a helping hand.
Despite low unemployment in Douglas and Todd counties, there are still 3,077 of Rep. Franson's neighbors in Douglas County and 2,200 in Todd County who receive food support, according to an article in a Twin Cities newspaper. There are probably just as many constituents finding it difficult to make ends meet in her newly redistricted turf in Otter Tail County.
Many of those neighbors are children, elderly or disabled. A large percentage of those receiving assistance have jobs, but aren't paid enough to feed their families, heat their homes and receive medical care.
Instead of spending time in St. Paul fighting for issues specific to her constituents - such as lowering property taxes for farms and small businesses in rural Minnesota - Rep. Franson spent her two years in the Legislature authoring bills that accomplished nothing.
In her two years in St. Paul, Rep. Franson authored 36 bills. None became law. Very few were even discussed or forwarded. Even her own party wasn't interested in the agenda Rep. Franson was trying to push. That is the definition of an ineffective legislator.
At the same time, Rep. Franson consistently voted to raise taxes on residents of Greater Minnesota. She supported elimination of the Market Value Homestead Credit, raising property taxes on all Minnesotans and particularly those in rural Minnesota. She also voted to reduce the renters' credit that provides additional property tax relief primarily to senior citizens and people with disabilities.
Rep. Franson sided with metropolitan legislators by failing to fight for an increase in Local Government Aid, a tool that provides property tax relief primarily for Greater Minnesota cities and towns. State funding for LGA has been cut 25 percent over the last 10 years and has remained flat since 2010. Eliminating or reducing LGA will seriously weaken regional centers like Alexandria and small cities like New York Mills. Without a strong LGA program, property taxes will go up and services will go down in Greater Minnesota.
Great cities and towns like Alexandria, Osakis, Parkers Prairie, New York Mills, Ottertail, Carlos and Miltona deserve better representation than Franson has provided. Under her watch, property taxes have risen sharply while she has embarrassed her constituents with controversial national headlines. Rep. Franson does not represent the principles of House District 8B.
Mike McFeely is a graduate of Jefferson High School in Alexandria. He is a talk show host on KFGO-AM 790 in Fargo-Moorhead and KCJB-AM 910 in Minot, N.D.