CROSSLAKE -- Rep. Larry Howes, R-Walker, and DFL challenger William Weis of Pine River agreed Tuesday state programs should be examined for possible waste when the Legislature convenes in January.
The two politicians, both vying for the House District 4B seat, appeared at the Brainerd Lakes Area Chambers of Commerce's candidate forum at the Crosslake Community Center.
Weis, 28, said every possible way to cuts costs should be studied along with creative ways to raise revenues.
"Then we may need to look at taxes," the executive sous chef at Grand View Lodge said.
Howes said the Legislature should look at squeezing government before it squeezes the family pocketbook. The ability to lead will be an important factor in the debate, he said.
"It is going to be tough," Howes said.
In opening statements Howes said he's developed a reputation for being able work with both sides of the aisle and for "getting the job done." He also talked about his marriage of 37 years and his five children.
Weis spoke of growing up in Pine River, of his father who came to the United States from Germany and his education at Central Lakes College and St. John's University.
William Weis: "I'm not a political person."
Howes the said the experience and knowledge he's gained in his past four years in the Legislature are among his qualifications for re-election.
"I think I've done an excellent job," Howes said.
Weis, a political newcomer, emphasized his standing as an ordinary citizen.
"I'm not a political person," he said. "I've never run for public office. I'm a citizen of this state. I love this state. I love this district. That's my qualification."
Questioned on the state's property taxes, Weis said the system might not be broken but it does need some fine-tuning. He would like to see some sort of fixed property tax rate for seniors on a fixed income.
Howes said the property tax system might need some tweaking but he was very proud of the reforms that were recently passed.
On the subject of term limits, Weis said his wife wants him to serve no more than three terms if elected while Howes said the decision is up to the voters who'll decide if someone has served long enough.
"Term limits, folks, are up to you," Howes said.
On the issue of health care Weis called for the state attorney general to act as a collective bargaining agent to secure a better deal on prescription drugs while Howes spoke about help that's been given to nursing homes and the possibility of federal help on the cost of prescription drugs.
In his concluding comments, Howes said he was the only candidate in the race who was pro-life and backed by the NRA and Education Minnesota.
Weis concluded by appealing for those in attendance to vote in the general election.
"Please get out Nov. 5, and vote," he said. "As long as you're out and voting, I'm not going to gripe."
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