Parry proud of work he did for Steele County - Owatonna MN: Elections

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Posted: Monday, September 10, 2012 4:30 pm | Updated: 9:02 am, Wed Sep 12, 2012.

OWATONNA — Until either Vicki Jensen or Vern Swedin replaces him next year, area state Sen. Mike Parry plans to keep on working.

Parry’s three-year run in the state Senate will culminate at the end of the year. After February’s statewide redistricting, all state senators — even ones like Parry, who were in the middle of their four-year terms — had to run for re-election. But Parry had already decided against running for re-election, having opted instead to run for the U.S. Congress. Jensen (DFL-Owatonna) and Swedin (R-Owatonna) are running for the open seat in the district, which includes Owatonna, Faribault and Parry’s hometown of Waseca.

Although he won’t be on the ballot this fall, Parry says he still answers his phone when his constituents call. He said he still enjoys talking with local residents about important issues.

“It doesn’t stop,” he said. “Some people think it does because it’s an election year, but you still get the calls. You still get people who are concerned about issues.”

Parry also traveled up to St. Paul in August to vote against flood relief for Duluth area residents, one of just seven legislators to vote against the bill, which was signed by Gov. Mark Dayton on Aug. 24. It was reported in Sunday’s paper that Parry supported the $1 million in flood relief, but he instead voiced concerns over a $1 million allocation to the Department of Natural Resources to compensate for lost timber sales in areas where many trees were blown down, according to a story by Minnesota Public Radio.

Two other major concerns for Parry are the failed attempts by Minnesota Secretary of State Mark Ritchie to rename to proposed amendments on the Nov. 6 ballot. Although on Aug. 27, the Minnesota Supreme Court ruled in favor of the GOP-led Minnesota Legislature, Parry still has issues with Ritchie for “tampering with” ballot initiatives to define marriage and require a photo ID to vote.

At the end of the 2011 legislative session, the Legislature passed the marriage amendment bill with a title stating: “Recognition of Marriage Solely Between One Man and One Woman.” Ritchie rewrote the title to state: “Limiting the Status of Marriage to Opposite Sex Couples.”

The photo ID amendment was passed by the Legislature during this year’s regular legislative session with the title: “Photo Identification Required for Voting.” Ritchie switched the title to: “Changes to In-Person & Absentee Voting & Voter Registration; Provisional Ballots.”

“Something still needs to be done about our Secretary of State (Mark Ritchie). He overstepped his bounds,” Parry said. “He, along with the Attorney General (Lori Swanson), also refused to attend my committee hearings.”

The Senate State Government Innovation and Veterans Committee, chaired by Parry, met on July 20 to discuss the possibility that Ritchie and Swanson — both members of the DFL — were actively campaigning in renaming the controversial ballot questions. During the session, Parry wondered if Ritchie violated campaign finance law by not registering his activities as a ballot question committee.

“I believe he actively campaigned against the (proposed) constitutional amendments,” Parry said last week.

Parry said that Ritchie used an almost 100-year old statute to originally make the change, and Parry claimed it would have been a “travesty” if the Supreme Court members didn’t use “common sense” to make their decision.

Parry’s state government committee also passed a State Government budget bill, which he said was a highlight of his two-plus years in St. Paul.

After what Parry called a “furious” five-hour debate, the bill passed with a 37-29 party-line vote. The bill spends about $600 million on state government in 2012-13, which amounts to a nearly 35 percent cut. The bill also calls for a 15 percent state workforce reduction by 2015.

Parry said Minnesota Management and Budget Commissioner Jim Schowalter praised the bill as a key reason for the current $323 million surplus in Minnesota.

The state senator is also proud of a series of veterans bills passed that helped businesses give more credit to hiring a vet without being mandated to do so.

“Those are all good things,” he said. “I’m just proud that I was able to bring together a team of senators to package the bills we were able to get Gov. (Mark) Dayton to sign.”

Before getting into politics, Parry owned and operated a Godfather’s Pizza restaurant in Waseca. He said he was tired of his town poorly managing its finances, so he ran for city council in 2004. Parry, who lost a city council election in 2008, still believes Waseca officials don’t work together to grow the city.

“In Waseca, there is still an intergovernmental power struggle going on, not the cooperation there should be,” he said. “Waseca appears to have a lot of individuals that want to make a name for themselves. There are certain pockets of teamwork, but nobody wants to come together and have a plan. That’s everything from trying to bring an event into town to trying to bring a business into town.”

He added that Waseca officials refuse to listen to cost-saving proposals. Parry would like Waseca to consider eliminating its police department, like the city of Jackson did last year. Parry said Jackson saved $500,000 by deciding to only use county and state officers to police the town of 3,300.

“Do we really need a police department in Waseca, Minnesota?” Parry asked. “I was in law enforcement, and I think the sheriff’s department could handle it just they are doing it in Jackson, Minnesota. Here we have a city council in Waseca that flatly won’t talk about something like this. To me that is being close-minded.”

Parry wouldn’t rule out another run or taking a job as a lobbyist or a position within the Republican Party.

“I like politics to the point where if you can convince people to come together and being able to pass state government budget bill. I like that part of it. I hate the things that happen during a campaign.”

Reach reporter Derek Sullivan at 444-2372, or follow him on Twitter @OPPSullivan

© 2014 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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  • irish_eyes posted at 3:08 pm on Fri, Sep 21, 2012.

    irish_eyes Posts: 1

    What a poor representative he was for the people. I know I am one of MANY who is so glad this idiot wasn't reelected. Waseca is a city of close to 10,000 people and we need a police force present. How in the world does he not see that, probably because he doesn't know or appreciate what Waseca has to offer. Pretty sure the city council was glad to see him leave and now the state will be happy to see him out of the capital. He thinks the city doesn't support business owners? Actually the people of Waseca see what a joke and a jerk that Parry is that no one wants to eat at Godfathers.

  • Scout posted at 9:17 am on Thu, Sep 13, 2012.

    Scout Posts: 1

    I was delightfully surprised by the comments made by Senator Mike Parry in is article that dated September 11, 2012; surprised because perhaps the most divisive member of the state legislator is talking about teamwork. The irony is palpable as we wags his fingers at others and speaks of power struggles, and individuals who want to make a name for themselves.” Thank you for showing yourself to us once again, and affirming Southern Minnesota’s decision to help you retire.

  • leftthehatebehind posted at 10:52 pm on Tue, Sep 11, 2012.

    leftthehatebehind Posts: 47

    I am a former employee and I am sure many of his "business" practices are barely legal. Most of his employees don't even get minimum wage. He is a poor excuse for a business owner, and a poor excuse as a representative. He is a hypocrite, full of crap, and only cares about the people he can benefit from. I hope he retires as well, and we never see his name in the media or a ballot again!!

  • Bobo777 posted at 3:48 pm on Tue, Sep 11, 2012.

    Bobo777 Posts: 57

    What a putz! I can't believe people actually voted for this guy. Unlike Parry, Dick Day actually got work done and gave real, valid points whenever he opposed something. Parry only opposed things against the governor and DFL just to bite the nose and spite its face.

    As DFairbanks and others have pointed out, Parry only did things to benefit Mike Parry and no one else. Thankfully, he can't use God anymore to advance his own politics (I think it's safe to assume God was tired of Parry too) and January can't come soon enough. Whoever wins this election had better do some actual work instead of collecting paychecks and riding a gravy train for doing nothing.

  • 4abetterwaseca posted at 11:51 am on Tue, Sep 11, 2012.

    4abetterwaseca Posts: 1

    Parry needs to retire altogether. There's a reason he's not on the ballot this fall. Typical business owner in Waseca that uses politics to benefit themselves. Oh and to answer his question about the police department. Yes, Waseca needs a police department. This isn't a town the size of Jackson and Parry has no idea what happens in this town. The sheriff's office would not be able to handle it.

  • DFairbanks posted at 7:09 am on Tue, Sep 11, 2012.

    DFairbanks Posts: 149

    Interesting. Now that Parry has his pension in hand, he wants to do away with the hand that feeds him. Of course I am sure that his pension is protected from any changes to the police force. I hope that Mr. Parry will continue to be a successful businessman, hiring the children of the parents that he knows, so that he does not have to validate their citizenship. Oh, I almost forgot, he is exempt from that rule that he imposed on the rest of Minnesota businesses because he knows who his employees parents are.

  • 2young2die posted at 5:00 pm on Mon, Sep 10, 2012.

    2young2die Posts: 398

    what a load


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