Posted: 04/17/12 08:30, Edited: 04/20/12 00:30
by Dave Mindeman
Last on the CD2 candidate list is Dakota County Commissioner Kathleen Gaylord. We had a long, productive discussion and I will share what I learned.
Kathleen Gaylord was elected Dakota County Commissioner in 2002 after serving ten years as the Mayor of South St. Paul and eight years as a member of the South St. Paul City Council. In 2006 and again in 2009, Kathleen was elected County Board Chair. She is currently the Vice Chair of the Board and the Chair of the Administration, Finance and Planning Committee.
Over 30 years of public policy expertise and public service leadership.
She has served as Vice Chair of the NACo Finance and Intergovernmental Steering Committee and represented counties at the National Academy of Public Administration forum on the intergovernmental revenue system. Kathleen chairs the state Property Tax Working Group to study and recommend improvements to the property tax process.
As Mayor, Kathleen chaired the National League of Cities Transportation Steering and Policy Committees and was elected to the National League of Cities (NLC) Board of Directors. She took a lead role in TEA-21 Reauthorization and support for first responders. She was honored with the American Hometown Leadership Award for her work on neighborhood revitalization.
Kathleen earned a BA degree magna cum laude from the University of Minnesota in economics and a JD degree in law from the William Mitchell College of Law. Her education also includes post-graduate work at the University of Minnesota in both business taxation and public administration. Kathleen developed an income based property tax relief system known as the Property Tax Refund or ?Circuit Breaker? for the Minnesota Legislature and, while Executive Director of the Minnesota Tax Study Commission, designed the first computer simulation of the state?s complex tax and local government aids system.
Ms. Gaylord is an attorney and partner in the St. Paul law firm of Weinblatt & Gaylord PLC. She has taught Election Law for the Minnesota Institute of Legal Education and the Ramsey County Bar Association. Kathleen formerly worked as Senior Corporate Counsel for Northwest Airlines, and successfully passed almost one billion dollars in airline assistance aid through the Minnesota Legislature with a two-thirds majority. She has lectured on transportation issues across the United States. As Chair of the Public Affairs Committee of the Air Transport Association in Washington, DC, she lobbied Congress and state legislatures across the country on behalf of the airline industry.
Kathleen Gaylord seems to be one of those relentless problem solvers. She has served Dakota County well and has found ways to get things done despite obstacles....some of them from John Kline.
OK, first of all, she is also going to abide by the endorsement. She is ardently pro-choice. Opposes the MN Marriage Amendment and supports LGBT issues in general. She also adamantly opposes the Voter ID amendment which comes from a background in election law and working on elections themselves. She is a firm backer of light rail in its entirety although she has reservations about high speed rail.
She has had thoughts of running for Congress before but deferred to Betty McCollum in the 4th District. McCollum and Gaylord are friends. She related the need for Federal help on the Hastings Bridge....no help from John Kline, but Betty McCollum found the Federal assistance. Kathleen related that the Board of Commissioners had to, more than once, go to McCollum and Rep. Keith Ellison to get help with Dakota County infrastructure. She can speak directly to Kline's failures in his own district.
On health care, Kathleen indicated a concern about where health care is going especially in light of the potential Supreme Court decision. She noted that although she had not been vocal about supporting single payer in the past, she has revisited the idea and is more open to a single payer solution now, if an alternative is needed. She said we simply can't go back to where we were. It was unsustainable. She felt it was a mistake to dump the public option.
On budgeting, Gaylord feels that policy makers take the easy way out too often. Although she is clear that we simply can't balance the budget without revenue enhancements, her record makes it clear that she will not let the property tax payers take the hit. She noted that she has earned a reputation as a "county tax watchdog" and is always looking for new ideas and utilizing excess money whenever and wherever possible.
She believes in coordinating government entities, and she has found ways to incorporate ideas from the mayors and city councils on better methods. She believes that up and down the levels of government, we can always find better coordination and cooperation. You just have to keep looking.
She offered some insight into nuclear power, having a relative that worked in management at at a US nuclear plant. Her relative was asked to do simulations that would duplicate what happened at the Fukushima plant in Japan because he worked at a facility that was the same type of model. But what her relative found as he began the duplication is that upgrades were not done and enhanced improvements which have happened in the US were not done in Japan. The simulations were found to be useless because too much was different. Even at that, Gaylord still supports the moratorium on new construction until we have more solutions to ongoing problem areas.
On other alternative energy issues, she keeps waiting for the progress that has been promised. Ethanol does not seem to developing into a real answer and thinks the whole process needs to be revisited. By the same token, she wants more progress in wind and solar as well. We need more investment but it has to be smarter.
She is keenly aware of the fundraising deficit that any Democrat will have in this district. She has already hired on a campaign fundraiser, but she is also counting on a renewed excitement in the district to finally have a real chance at defeating John Kline. She was encouraged to run by several women's groups and Kathleen is confident they will support her financially.
She also sees an opportunity, not only to build a strong campaign, but to rebuild the 2nd District organization as well. Make it stronger and make it more able to really support its Congressional candidate.
On foreign policy, she is still looking for a Syria solution. She mentioned that she feels Hillary Clinton has shown such strong leadership from the State Department and has not gotten the full credit she deserves during these uncertain times.
In Afghanistan she would like to see an acceleration of getting our troops home, beyond the current timetable. When Osama Bin Laden was killed, that should have been a catalyst to accelerate troop withdrawal. It was a lost opportunity.
Kathleen realizes that her part of the district is new to the Second, but her representation via her part of the Dakota County Commissioners has always had an extention into the heart of the county. Commissioner districts do not follow the normal political lines. She has made friends and developed relationships in many other parts of the second.
She has been working hard to make the calls and introduce herself to everyone.
She is confident that her familiarity with John Kline's work (or lack thereof) in the second, can make this race a winning one.