Terry Sluss, a Brainerd High School teacher, announced Wednesday he will again run for the Senate District 12 seat held by Sen. Paul Koering, R-Fort Ripley.
Sluss, 61, ran in 2006 with Koering winning that race 18,241-14,260. The percentage breakdown was Koering, 54.36 percent, and Sluss,42.49 percent.
Sluss said he'll be able to retire this spring and devote more time to the campaign after 27 years in education, 10 years as a Crow Wing County commissioner and four years in the U.S. Air Force.
"I've been watching the votes of Sen. Koering," he said. "They don't seem to represent what I think the general population of central Minnesota is looking for."
Sluss said Koering voted against every omnibus bill in last legislative with the exception of the last minute tax bill, in which he did not vote.
He said he can no longer tolerate the state of Minnesota's economy, the local unemployment figures, the lack of commitment toward education, and serious reductions in local government aid, resulting in likely future property tax increases. He also spoke against deteriorating health care for both children and vulnerable adults.
He said he would like to model the strategic approach of the late Sen. Paul Wellstone, D-Minn., and organize small groups at the precinct level for his campaign.
"I did fairly well in the Crow Wing County area where my name recognition was pretty good," he said. "I think I was not as well known in the Morrison County area."
He said he's advocated locating a veterans home and a female drug addiction program at the Brainerd Regional Human Services Center.
"My record shows I've been a strong advocate for trying to find uses for the (former) state hospital facilities."
In private sector job development, Sluss supports the work of Brainerd Lakes Area Development Corp. and its counterpart in the Crosby area in bringing in new jobs to the area.
"We have a very good workforce," Sluss said. "Some of the high school scores are way above the state average. We have good transportation facilities. We have a good airport."
Asked how he would steer money toward education, Sluss said he would have supported the Legislature's final tax bill that passed both the Senate and House but was vetoed by Gov. Tim Pawlenty. That bill, he said, would have "increased some taxes on those people who can afford it." That bill, he said, would have restored some of the former taxation that was lost in 2002 when the Legislature no longer required seasonal property owners to contribute to school taxes.
In his first bid for the Legislature he defeated Jessica Ringwelski, a St. Cloud State University student, of rural Little Falls, in the first ballot. He said it's possible she might choose to run. Another potential candidate on the horizon, he said, was Tay Stevenson, a 2006 Brainerd High School graduate who has stated his interest in running for the seat after his graduation from Dartmouth in 2010.
"The political season is starting to sneak up on us," Sluss said. "Precinct caucuses are in February. The endorsements, county conventions are in March or April. It (his announcement) may be earlier than some traditional times but nowadays you have to get your name out there earlier."
Sluss was elected to the Crow Wing County Board in 1996 and served through Dec. 31, 2006. He was chair of that panel twice. Sluss served as the first county wide methamphetamine prevention coordinator and accepted no compensation for the post. He also served as the county's interim emergency manager for one year, without compensation. In addition, he served on Adult Drug Court team and was certified by the National Drug Court Institute. Statewide committees he served on included the Minnesota Meth Task Force, the Children's Mental Health Advisory Committee, the Minnesota Supreme Court Chemical Dependency Task Force, the Minnesota Drug Court Initiative, a policy and financial advisory to the Minnesota Judicial Council, and the Association of Minnesota Counties Health and Human Services advisory committee. He has served on numerous local and regional committees.
Sluss said he wants to focus on core Minnesota values of fairness as established in the Minnesota Constitution. He said outstate Minnesota is not receiving the representation and respect it deserves.
MIKE O'ROURKE may be reached at email@example.com or 855-5860.
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