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Decision 2022, elections, Steele County
Term limits in Minnesota? Candidates weigh in
Kay Fate, Staff Writer

In an effort to keep you, our readers, well-informed and abreast of relevant issues, today is the seventh in a series of questions we are asking all of Steele County’s candidates for state office.

We want voters to know where each candidate stands on the issues in order to make their best decision at the ballot box.

Each week, we’ll ask the candidates a new question. They will all receive the same question, be given a word limit and a deadline of four days to answer. We’ll publish their answers the following Wednesday; responses may be edited for length.

The series will continue through Nov. 2, the last Wednesday before the Nov. 8 general election.

If a candidate doesn’t respond, we’ll note that.

This week, we’re asking about term limits:

The results of a national survey in 2021 indicated that voters overwhelmingly support implementing term limits on members of our United States Congress. Support for term limits is broad and strong across all political, geographic and demographic groups. An overwhelming 80% of voters approve of a Constitutional Amendment that will place term limits on members of Congress. Half of all voters, 50%, say they would be more likely to support a member of Congress who has been opposed to congressional term limits during their 20-year career in office but suddenly announced that their views had evolved and they now supported term limits.

Let’s break that down to the state level with this week’s question, which had a limit of 200 words.

We advise you to ignore the R or DFL behind each name and reflect only on the answers. You might be surprised to find more common ground than you expected. An (i) indicates the incumbent candidate, though with this spring’s redistricting, the district numbers may not align with the seat they’re seeking.


Question of the Week:

What do you think of establishing term limits for all elected state offices?


Minnesota House District 19B

Abdulahi Ali Osman – DFL, of Owatonna:

No response.


John Petersburg – R (i-24A), of Waseca:

The question can be a little misleading. We know the voting public can always end the term by voting someone out of office, that is current law. I absolutely agree with that. The next level down in the question could depend on whether someone is in the majority or minority. If there were a five-term limit and your representative was in the minority all that time, but would have been in the majority the following term. You will then lose all the knowledge and good will that person had developed over the years, just as they were about to make a difference for their district.  


Minnesota House District 23A

Peggy Bennett – R (i-27A), of Albert Lea:

I support term limits and have chief authored term limit legislation. Whatever parameters we choose for term limits needs to be balanced. Take the Minnesota House as an example… we must consider the value of the experience, knowledge and developed relationships of a veteran legislator as well as the fresh ideas and real-life experiences of a new legislator. I have found that it takes a minimum of four years to really learn this position and begin to develop the relationships necessary to be an effective legislator, so that too must be considered. Our government was founded upon the idea of citizen-legislators and citizen-leaders. These can be teachers, business owners, factory workers, plumbers, stay-at-home moms, executives, carpenters, retired seniors, and more. All these backgrounds help keep the legislature balanced and informed. State representatives and other elected leaders should come from and return to everyday life so they can stay in touch with the citizens they represent.

No elected position should become a permanent job. Let’s get a commonsense term limit bill passed in Minnesota.


Mary Hinnenkamp – DFL, of Albert Lea:

Most of my work life, I would ask questions and learn from those who had wisdom and experience on the job. That is one reason I am uncomfortable with the concept of term limits for those elected to the state legislature. A lot of wisdom resides in those who have served several terms. And I fear that term limits would only increase the power of lobbyist preying on the new inexperienced legislators. Also, on some level, it strikes me as undemocratic. People should be able to vote for whomever they want to represent them. I don’t think that the problem is people serving too long. The problem is that there is too much money in politics – too much influence by wealthy people and corporations on our elections and law-making. The solution is to get the money out of politics with campaign finance reform.

Please understand. I am a challenger to a legislator who has been in office for eight years. She has all kinds of advantages of incumbency, and she will out-spend me greatly in this election. My suggestion: if voters truly don’t like people being in office too long, they should vote for someone new, someone like me.


Minnesota House District 23B

Patricia Mueller – R (i-27B), of Austin:

Term limits were created because public servants stopped serving the community and instead profited off of their position. Most want term limits for the other person until they are elected or their party is elected and then the argument changes to “the people should decide through voting.” Voting is a sacred right for citizens of this country and they should have the final decision on who represents them. Because I value each person’s vote, I have worked hard to be involved and listen to each person. Representatives need to have time to build relationships to do the job well and institutional knowledge is important. But when the system of politics and campaigning has become so big and difficult to maneuver, the average citizen is at a disadvantage to really know the candidates and make an educated decision. With all things being equal, I would say that term limits are unnecessary. But with what politics have become, instating term limits should be considered. There was a bill last year that would limit a representative or senator to 12 consecutive years. In the era of career politicians, maybe this is what we need to elect new voices that better represent the people.


Tom Stiehm – DFL, of Austin:

I am in favor of term limits. It is good to get new people, and new energy into our govt. I was the Mayor of Austin for 14 years, and I felt it was time for new blood. I enjoyed serving as mayor, but felt it was time for a change.

I believe 10-year term limits would be appropriate.


Minnesota Senate District 19

Kate Falvey – DFL, of Faribault:

believe there should be term limits for state-elected offices. I believe that one needs at least two terms (in the legislature) to develop good working relationships with those of all parties, so a limit of two terms is too few. But, serving as an elected official was never meant to be a career choice, so implementing term limits is important. Other offices such as governor, sheriff, county attorney, attorney general, etc. will likely need different limits from one another and from the legislature. I believe that if we were to impose term limits, the length of the term for those in the House should be longer - minimum of 3 (or 4) years instead of 2. I say this because right now, those representatives must focus every other year on their re-election which takes away focus from their work. We should also discuss making the term limits equitable in the number of years between the chambers. I do not know what the magic number is for a term limit, and passing limits will take a lot of discussion and compromise, but we must put them in place in the state of Minnesota – and at all levels of government.


John Jasinksi – R (i-24), of Faribault:

To be very honest, I have mixed feelings about term limits. There is definitely a trade-off between having new people involved with new ideas, and having some institutional knowledge on a multitude of topics. As an incumbent senator, I can tell you first hand, that many constituents believe you should be an expert on all topics. However, in reality there are so many issues we must deal with from health and human services, education, transportation, environmental issues, and many more, that it is difficult to be an expert on any one of them. For that reason, the longer you are elected the more knowledgeable that you become on the more topics, and therefore become a more effective elected official. On the other side, it is great to see new people get elected and bring their fresh ideas to government service. In my six years of service in the state legislature, I have seen so many great new people with great new ideas, and so many people who have such a wealth of knowledge like Senators Julie Rosen and Dave Senjem. 

With that, I am open to the discussion of term limits somewhere between 20 and 24 years. 


Minnesota Senate District 23

Gene Dornink – R (i-27), of Brownsdale:

This is definitely an issue of concern for those in our community. I hear the frustration often that they want term limits on those serving in government. Our founders never intended for it to be a career. I ran on being a supporter of term limits, and that has not changed. In Minnesota our legislators are part time, serving between January/February and May of each year. This allows ordinary citizens to serve. Legislators need to be out amongst the people so they don’t forget who they serve and so they have a better understanding of the day-to-day issues facing their constituents. Often we see politicians who camp out in Washington.

There is much to learn in being an effective voice in St. Paul and it does take some time to understand the process. So, the question is, how long is too long? I don’t have the answer, but I’m certain we can work together to figure it out. I have signed on to and supported a bill in the Senate to impose term limits. I support and agree that term limits need to be implemented, and will put forward legislation for term limits as I continue to serve our area.

Lisa Hanson – R, of Hayward:

No response.

Brandon Lawhead – DFL, of Austin:

No response.


Next week’s question:

Minnesota’s alcohol laws have been gradually relaxing since former Gov. Mark Dayton signed a bill in 2017, allowing Sunday alcohol sales. Still, gas stations, convenience and grocery stores are only allowed to sell 3.2% alcohol beer; we’re the only state left with this “near-beer” law.

Granted, four states don’t allow the sale of beer at all in those establishments, but the other 45 allow it – some with conditions. There are 39 states that allow the sale of wine in grocery stores; 19 allow the sale of liquor – again, with some conditions.

Would you consider allowing gas stations, convenience stores or grocery stores in Minnesota to sell full-strength beer, wine, or alcohol? There will be a 200-word limit

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