OWATONNA — Deb Salonek, a Libertarian from Faribault, is running to represent District 24B, and the third-party candidate expects to win.
Salonek announced her candidacy at noon on Wednesday inside the Libertarian Party booth at the Steele County Free Fair. She hopes to be the Libertarian Party candidate for an election which won’t take place until Nov. 4, 2014. Because the election is 445 days away, Salonek doesn’t know for sure who she will run against for the seat, which has been represented by Patti Fritz, DFL-Faribault, since 2005. Salonek said she’s ready for any opponent.
Fritz and her last GOP opponent, Dan Kaiser, both announced their candidacies in the People’s Press on March 13, 2012.
“My goal is to win,” Salonek said. “It doesn’t matter if it’s Patti Fritz or who the opponent is. I’m vying to win. I’m not in it for any other reason.”
District 24B includes parts of Steele, Rice and Dodge counties, including Medford, Ellendale, Faribault and Claremont.
Salonek said she is worried about corporate welfare, government intrusion and taxes.
“We pay too much in taxes,” she said. “We pay taxes from the school board, the city, the county, the state and the federal government, and when Obamacare kicks in, we’re really in trouble.
“Seven of 10 people live paycheck to paycheck. That means they are one paycheck away from disaster. And that to me is one of the main problems that we have right now.”
Last year, Salonek ran for the Faribault school board. With three open school board positions, she placed fourth out of five candidates.
Salonek said Wednesday that she didn’t campaign for the school board spot, but spent most of 2012 trying to get people to vote against the Faribault school district’s ballot initiative to increase Faribault’s current $385 per pupil operating levy by $600 per pupil. The initiative failed.
“(Defeating the levy) was to me the most important because all of the things that they put out as scare tactics were reinstated,” she said. “They all are back now, and guess what? Nine months later, they are asking for another levy this fall. What do you need more money for? They are asking for millions upon millions of dollars. I want a good, quality education for all of the kids, but how many millions of dollars is it going to take for them to be satisfied. I want an answer to that.”
Salonek also campaigned to be a Republican delegate in 2012, although in the end, she voted for Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson over GOP nominee Mitt Romney. Salonek said she decided against running as a Republican because she doesn’t believe local Republican leaders will support her, and she, more and more, finds a connection with the personal liberty message of the Libertarian Party.
“We don’t want you to get involved in our life, and we don’t want to get involved in yours. We want everybody to live their lives as they want. That doesn’t mean that we don’t want the mass murderer down the street brought in. It’s just that I don’t care what you do as long as it’s doesn’t cause a legal problem,” she said. “I don’t care if you are gay, straight, bi-sexual. That stuff doesn’t matter to me. That’s your private business, and it should stay your private business. And my private business should stay my private business.”
Fritz has only competed once in a three-person race. When first elected in 2004, she defeated both Republican incumbent Lynda Boudreau and Independence candidate Mike Corbin.
The Libertarian Party has been quiet in recent years. According to the Libertarian Party of Minnesota website, there were only one mayoral and one city council candidate who ran as Libertarians in 2012. There hasn’t been a Minnesota Libertarian candidate in a U.S. House race since 2000, when there were four. Salonek expects the party to be active in 2014.
“I won’t be alone,” she said. “There are going to be a lot of House candidates, Senate candidates, candidates for mayors. People are going to see what this party stands for and support it.”
Reach reporter Derek Sullivan at 444-2372, or follow him on Twitter @OPPSullivan