James Kanne is 58 years old and has been married for 27 years to Mary Sullivan. They have four daughters, Kate and Meg, twins, are seniors this year at SDSU and MSU Moorhead. Meg is married to Nick Kohles, a med student at Vermillion, S.D. Linda and Andy Rieke are managing and running the family dairy farm. They have a 9-month-old daughter, Alana. Jo lives and works in the Twin Cities.
James attended Moorhead State for four years and his mother graduated from there as well. He has been farming full-time since 1976. The Kanne family roots go back to 1854 for six generations. Linda and Andy make it seven generations.
James has been active in his church, St. Lukes of Franklin (ELCA) serving on council and also on synod SWMN council. For years James has enjoyed working with the Franklin Jaycee chapter and recently helped with the Catfish Days celebration as the chair of the chess tournament, as he’s done for the past 21 years.
Why are you seeking this seat?
I attended my caucus and endorsing conventions to be part of the process because I felt that being active in support of candidates and working on resolutions would be my way of helping. While at the SD16 endorsing convention it became clear that the opportunity to run as a candidate was possible and I welcomed the endorsement as another way of being part of the process to make our government better. Since then, I’ve met with many people in the area at parades, fairs, local events and door knocking. Doing so has made me very aware of the need for representation from the area. People are very tired of politics and politicians. What people want is someone to go to St. Paul and work on things that matter to them, their schools, getting their roads fixed and making taxes fair. I promise to be that representative if elected.
What do you believe are the top three specific priorities for the district in the next two years?
Education is job one for the state. It is the area we spend the most money on and the area that government can do the most good for all the people of the state. While we can’t promise equal results, we should offer equal opportunities in education for all of our children. Irresponsibly borrowing billons from the schools to “balance” the budget was really only the final straw as school funding has not kept up for years. At the college level the state has gone from funding two-thirds of a degree to only one-third in the past 12 years. This has left students to pick up the cost of higher tuition and resulting in higher loans. If we are to meet the job needs of tomorrow we must step up our support of education today.
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Roads and bridges are aging faster than they are being replaced. In our rural areas the wear and tear has accelerated with the bigger machinery and trucks on the roads. We generate the dollars, but they leave the area and don’t come back. Looking at funding streams for infrastructure needs will be very important in the coming session.
Taxes must be made fair. Slogans like “no new taxes” have handcuffed us into using fees and increases to property taxes to cover rising costs. Honestly looking at who can and should pay, will make our system more fair to everyone.
How can rural communities better work together to promote their mutual interests?
First we must realize that the competitor we must worry about is not across the street or in the next town, but is probably a huge corporation that is multi-national in size. Getting on a level playing fields is just not possible unless the state or federal government is willing to do something to make the competition more fair. Is that possible? All I can say is I will represent Main Street and give you a voice in the legislature.
Secondly, backing off of regulatory oversight by the state of small business would allow for more start ups and growth. Getting along is much easier if there is a bigger slice of the pie to divide and less that is wasted on paperwork.
Budget shortfalls have affected nearly every city and county in the state and left those areas with increasingly tighter budgets as government aid continues to be reduced. What funding issues does this district face and what will you do to overcome these issues?
The good news is that the state should be looking at a stronger economy than the rest of the country, as we have had a good harvest this year and agriculture is a large part of our state’s financial success.
Local Government Aid has been cut to the bone during the last few sessions. For small communities they really can’t take more cuts and hopefully we will see a leveling off or even small increases in LGA in the coming biennium. The one area that voters can help their local government units on is to vote down the Voter ID amendment as it would burden the local units with costs they really can’t afford.
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