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District 10 Senate candidates square off

District 10 Senate candidates Gretchen Hoffman, left, and Dan Skogen, right, discuss state issues at last Thursday's forum.

There's no love lost in the Senate District 10 race between laidback DFL incumbent Dan Skogen and fiery Republican challenger Gretchen Hoffman.

Skogen, a sports director for a radio station in Wadena, lives with his wife about eight miles south of Wadena on a hobby farm.

"I've focused a lot of my attention on agriculture issue and farm issues," he said.

With nearly 1,200 lakes in Otter Tail County, he also has a finger on the pulse of lakeshore issues.

He was recently given the Guardianship of Small Business Award.

Hoffman is a Fargo South High School graduate who moved to Minnesota in 1982. She has three grown sons and worked as a registered nurse in Detroit Lakes, Fargo and Perham before opening a small business in Fargo in 1999.

"We live on a very competitive border," she said. "We hear time and again (that state policies) are just going to bleed more jobs to North Dakota. Minnesota is spending too much and needs to get back to fiscal responsibility."

At a candidate forum last Thursday in Detroit Lakes, they were asked how legislators can best work with the new governor.

"That's the question all legislators will have to take seriously," Skogen said. "We have to solve an approximately $6 billion deficit."

Lawmakers tried unsuccessfully to work with Gov. Tim Pawlenty on budget issues, he said.

The legislature needs to work with whoever the new governor turns out to be, Skogen said.

"We need three things -- serious and deep reductions, reform so government is operating at the highest efficiency possible, and, at some point, add revenue to the process," he said. "It will take serious bipartisan work from all involved to get us there."

Hoffman said it was "curious that he (Skogen) voted for a $30 million bailout of St. Paul that didn't benefit this district at all."

She espoused a tough conservative line: "We don't need any more government, we don't need any more spending and we don't need any more regulations."

North Dakota's economy is booming, she added, because "they have the entrepreneurial spirit. The main thing is jobs. When Sen. Skogen says revenue, that means tax."

The solution is to reduce government, which will bring economic freedom, she said.

They were asked what the state can do to help local communities like Detroit Lakes battle invasive species like flowering rush.

"We tried to make carrying an invasive species a primary offense, so DNR officers can stop boats when they see them," Skogen said.

Education is needed so boaters are careful not to spread invasive species from lake to lake, he said.

"Some states prohibit going from lake to lake," he said. "I don't think Minnesota wants to go there."

There is conflict even within the DNR right now, since some in the agency think some invasive species might be good for fish habitat, he added.

"It's going to be a long battle," he added.

Hoffman said that "it's not my area of expertise, but everyone wants clean water. Every time we have a problem in Minnesota, government wants to throw some money at it."

After consulting experts and identifying goals, "local people must take charge of their lakes," she said. "They are allowed to clean up their lakes under the recommendations of experts."

Asked whether they support state funding for a new Minnesota Vikings football stadium, Hoffman said "no" and Skogen said "yes, but not from the general fund."

The forum at Minnesota State was hosted by the Detroit Lakes Area League of Women Voters and Detroit Lakes Regional Chamber of Commerce Young Professionals group. Terri Kalil was the moderator.