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Q&A with House 53B incumbent Kelly Fenton

Kelly Fenton, Republican

• Age: 50

• City of residence: Woodbury

• Years lived in district: 12

• Education: Graduate: Emerging Leaders Program; Darden Graduate School of Business, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Va.; Graduate: Bowhay Institute for Legislative Leadership Development; University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wis.; Master of Education, Administration and Supervision-University of Houston, Houston, Texas; B.A., Education-Marquette University, Milwaukee, Wis.

• Occupation: Mom and retired teacher

• Notable community and civic involvement: Minnesota Excellence in Public Service Series, past president and current board of governors; Junior League of St. Paul, sustainer; Woodbury Athletic Association traveling baseball, past tournament director and board member; member of St. Ambrose of Woodbury, confirmation catechist; Woodbury Area Chamber of Commerce, member

• Contact: Kelly@FentonforHouse.com; FentonforHouse.com

Why are you running for office?

When my family and I moved to Woodbury 12 years ago, we found a welcoming community with wonderful neighbors, strong schools and a flourishing middle class. While Woodbury has changed and grown dramatically since we first moved here, its core strengths still remain.

I am running for office to give back to the community that has been my home for more than a decade, and because I want to see Woodbury, and our state, continue to grow, thrive and prosper. I am running for families, for taxpayers and for small businesses and am committed to passing policies that work for the people and priorities of Woodbury.

What are the biggest issues in Minnesota House of Representatives District 53B?

One of the biggest issues I hear from families, taxpayers and business owners in Woodbury is the need for tax relief.

During the past two years as your representative, I worked tirelessly to try and secure tax relief for Woodbury residents, and the legislature was able to pass overwhelmingly bipartisan legislation that provided more than $500 million in ongoing and permanent middle-class tax relief for families, small businesses, college graduates with student loan debt and veterans earlier this year. Unfortunately, the bill was vetoed by the governor, but if re-elected, I will continue to advocate for meaningful tax relief for Woodbury families and fight to get legislation passed again next year.

Additionally, as a former educator, funding our schools and implementing meaningful reforms to improve student learning is another top priority.

During the past two years, we were able to increase education funding by $525 million, putting more money into every classroom, and also implement a number of reforms for our educators, students and schools.

Woodbury is fortunate to have great schools, fantastic teachers and dedicated parents, and I want to build on that to ensure that our children, and children throughout Minnesota, have access to a world-class education.

Nothing is more important to the prosperity of Minnesota than providing every child with the highest-quality education.

How do you plan to address these issues if elected?

First, to pass tax relief for Minnesota families and hardworking taxpayers, we can build on the comprehensive, bipartisan tax legislation that was passed by the House and Senate earlier this year. While each year is different and there will be new members of the legislature in 2017, I think that we can once again work across the aisle to move forward tax relief legislation that puts more money back in your pocket.

Additionally, as a member of the Education Finance Committee, I was able to work with legislators on both sides of the aisle, teachers, school districts and other education groups that are striving to improve Minnesota schools.

We all want our children to have access to a world-class education, and to do that, we must continue to innovate and implement needed reforms to improve student learning.

Some of the biggest education reforms I will advocate for include keeping the best teachers in our classroom regardless of tenure, looking at innovative means to close the achievement gap and passing policies that put parents in the driver's seat of their child's education so they have the access and options to find an education solution that works best for their family.

What distinguishes you from the other candidates?

I am a leader with a track record of pursuing commonsense solutions and working across the aisle to accomplish what needs to be done for our community and state.

During the past two years, I championed a number of bills with strong bipartisan support. My balanced approached has made me the only candidate to earn the endorsement of business, labor, and farmers.

Additionally, I am a candidate who will stand up for taxpayers, and work tirelessly to find ways to streamline, cut wasteful spending and rein in state government so that government spending is not increasing faster than family budgets.

I am an advocate for responsible government that invests in our shared priorities like education, transportation and taking care of our most vulnerable, while also finding ways to return money to hard-working taxpayers and check government growth.

I love hearing the ideas of Woodbury residents on how to improve state government. Your perspective is invaluable, and I welcome people to contact me to share their thoughts on how to make our great state even better.

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