Election 2016 Candidate Q&A: Marla Vagts, House District 58B
1. What would you say is the top challenge facing the residents of your legislative district, and how would you address it?
One of the most pressing issues in my area is the issue of broadband internet. This is not an issue for those “way out” in the country. It's a problem in the town of Farmington where it's bad, as little as four miles east, it's very bad, and within just 10 miles of Farmington, they have none. It's leaving areas behind in commerce, they don't have the ability to order online to have things delivered where stores aren't that close. It's leaving kids behind because they have iPads from school but can't use them at home. In an area that needs jobs, the ability to be an entrepreneur could revitalize a rural or small town area, but you can't do that without the internet. I would work with the governor's border-to-border broadband proposals to get the funding to my district and other areas like mine that need it.
2. Why do you think you should be elected to the Minnesota legislature?
I have worked at being a negotiator for 16 years. It doesn't matter who is on the other side of the table, I'm not doing my job unless I close the deal. There is no such thing as throwing your hands up and saying it can't be done. It's taking one issue at a time and talking through it until you have an agreement that everyone can live with. With the gridlock that happened in the last session, the legislature needs to have people who know how to negotiate and are committed to working with whoever is at the table.
3. What specific measures do you support to increase the transparency and reduce the gridlock of the lawmaking process?
When the legislature works like it's supposed to, issues are handled timely all through the session. When that doesn't happen the result is that things get pushed to the end of session which ultimately starts closed-door meetings and transparency takes a back seat to expediency. There is no perfect agreement, but we need people who will work hard to get to the best one. People in the private sector don't have the option of not getting their work done timely; it needs to be the same in government. When you have people committed to the result, then things are done on time and no need for things to be pushed to the end of session and for there to be closed door meetings and transparency to be compromised.
4. How would you approach developing a comprehensive plan and funding package for roads, bridges and transit?
We need a long-term plan. We have to find a revenue source for a long-term plan. We have gotten so far behind on the work that needs to be done and the critical nature of the repairs, we must act in the responsible way and fund these infrastructure necessities before something tragic happens. I'm not convinced that the gas tax is the way, there may be other ways and I think there are plenty of people that want to work to find the best way. But we have to — we have to catch up and we have to plan into the future to maintain it; we don't have a choice.
Occupation: Contract negotiator at a telecommunication company for 16 years
Education: Accounting and computer programming
Family: I'm a widow of six years, I have five children, four daughters and a son, all grown. Two are married and a third engaged.
Civic Involvement: Going through an eight year battle with cancer with my husband and having five kids, there wasn't time for civic involvement. After my husband passed away, I got involved in issues that were important to me which led me to see the need for better representation in my own area. I ran in 2014 and decided to run again this year.