By CARLOS GALLEGO
AAP staff writer
CHANHASSEN (May 28, 2014) — Chris Dahlberg is a candidate for U.S. Senate. Recently, he sat down for a conversation with Asian American Press.
Q. There are a couple of candidates already running for the Republican Endorsement, what makes you feel that you would be the best candidate for our State?
CD: My depth of real life experience makes be well prepared to represent this state. I have worked as a factory worker and been a member of several unions. I am a small business owner, owning my own law practice: Dahlberg Law Office, P.A. I have experience in local government, having served as a Duluth City Councilor (1992-1995) and currently a St. Louis County Commissioner (2009-Present). Working in local government, I see how bad federal policies affect us on the local level.
I have 25 years of military service in the U.S. Army Reserves. I recently retired last October 2013, retiring with the rank of Major. I have been deployed overseas to Baghdad, Iraq (2004-2005). I have been schooled as an officer in the following branches: Engineers; Civil Affairs; and Judge Advocate General (JAG). I am also a military linguist, having been taught Mandarin-Chinese at the Presidio in Monterey, California.
The best experience which gives me the greatest perspective is to be the proud father of a wonderful 9-year old daughter: Maija Olene Dahlberg. I enjoy time with her doing things such as gardening, camping, and cooking.
Q. As a County Commissioner, what have been some of your accomplishments and/or positions you have supported that indicate your ability to make a difference?
CD: The most impactful decision we accomplished on the St. Louis County Board was transitioning our county-run nursing home into the private sector. The nursing home was a continual financial drain on the taxpayers, losing annually upward of $2 million per year. We were able to successfully transition the operation out of the government into the private sector. This move not only meant saving taxpayers’ hard earned dollars but it will mean additional future jobs. The private operator that took over the nursing home now has plans to build independent senior housing and assisted living senior housing. This means more jobs for construction works and more jobs for health care workers.
Another accomplishment I was able to achieve was to raise awareness and help better address issues of violence in the adult foster care home industry. Adult foster care homes help adults with development disabilities to live independently with dignity. One of the problem that started to occur over time was some inappropriate placing of potentially violent individuals in these homes, threating both staff and other clients. I was able to raise attention to this highly sensitive area without discrediting the good work of adult foster care home providers. This area hit close to home with myself as I have an older brother who was born with development disabilities. He lives a rich life due to services provided within the adult foster care home he lives.
I was able to get started a School Attendance Intervention Program within St. Louis County. Through this program, we place a social worker into the school one time per week to address students who are showing problems getting to school. As a county commissioner, I new from my service on the Arrowhead Regional Corrections Board, a joint five-county board which addresses issues of criminality among adults and children, that students who fail early in school tend to end up in the juvenile justice system. By making an upfront investment to get kids to school, we save taxpayer dollars spent later in the criminal corrections system. Additionally, we save children from a live of sadness. Education leaders will tell you that if you can get a kid to read by third grade, you have a good chance to give the child a optimistic future.
Q. What are the 3 top issues you feel need to be addressed?
CD: The three issues I want to address in my six years as a United States Senator are: 1) Reduce $17 trillion debt; 2) Repeal the Affordable Care Act and replace it with a state, Minnesota driven solution; and 3) Reduce and streamline government bureaucratic regulations that are hurting our economy.
Currently, with the $17 trillion debt, every man, woman and child owed $55,000. That figure will continue to grow unless politicians step up to the plate and get out-of-control government spending in hand. I have a 9-year old daughter. My hopes are that in approximately 13 year she will graduate from college. It’s an expected reality that our college students will have some major college debts. Why should there future be limited with further debt, probably well beyond $55,000, because we don’t have the discipline to live within our means today.
The Affordable Care Act (‘Obamacare’) was enacted with the goal of getting ever escalating health care costs in line and helping provide those with pre-existing health problems the opportunity to have health care coverage. President Obama had promised that every family would realize a health care savings, on average of $2200.What is slowly evolving is a system that seems to be increasing individual premiums, forcing individuals out of insurance they had been happy with and away from their doctors, and additionally creating an environment where many employers have let employees go or cut their hours.
Minnesota had a good health care system with one of the highest coverage rates across the nation. We should move back to a state where the state and not the distant federal government determines health care policy. Additionally, we should look to private market based solutions which encourage health consumers to save dollars, as they know it will go back to their own pockets. One of the best means here is health care savings accounts. Prior to the ACA passage, health care savings accounts had been on the rise. Studies had showed that correlating to the rise in health care savings accounts, health care savings results. We also need more transparency in health care costs for consumers.
Overly burdensome and duplicative government regulations are killing our ability to create American jobs. It has taken longer to get a new mining permit on the Iron Range than the time it took to get from start to finish to get a man to the moon – and that was using 1960’s technology. There would be thousands of new jobs associated with the new Polymet mine on the Range. Many young people would be able to realize jobs paying $50,000+. Additionally, duplicate environmental review projects place additional burdens on taxpayers for road projects. In St. Louis County with five construction projects, we had to pay conservatively an additional $500,000 due to the problematic regulatory process.
Q. Can you give an example of something positive Senator Franken has accomplished or supported during his tenure?
CD: Senator Franken has been particularly proud of a bi-partisan hot dish cook off that he holds among members of Minnesota’s congressional delegations.
Q. In regards to cutting the Federal debt, what are some ways you could accomplish this?
CD: Tackling a $17 trillion debt is such a monumental task, its akin to trying to wrap one’s arms around the universe. I believe to ultimately tackle the larger budget items, we first need to build on smaller successes. There’s an old saying: “How does one eat an elephant? One bite at a time.” One starting point could be to sell of the over 45,000 federal government buildings determined to be unused or underused. Another area is the federal government’s excessive holding of land – in some accounts nearly one-fifth the land mass. At least much of the land should be passed back to the states. In Nevada, an Economist edition noted that where the land was state managed, there was a net gain on revenue. However, where the federal government managed the land, there was a net loss.
Q. You mention immigration as a big issue. What is your position with respect to immigration reform?
CD: I am a fourth generation American. Legal immigration has made this country great. People coming to America hungry for the American Dream help replenish the greatness of our country.
We need an immigration policy that works to treat all immigrant groups on an equal level. Currently, many people coming to this country legal to become United States Citizens go through a process that could be more efficient and compassionate. We really need a new immigration policy based in the 21st Century.
A massive illegal immigration problem, resulting from a historical unwilling by both political parties to address continued illegal immigration issues, has now brought us to a standstill of moving forward to reform our immigration policy to one that helps America. The first step we need to do is secure the borders. Without doing so, the illegal immigration problem will only worsen. Then, the second step is to help those legal immigrants already in the system, to make sure they are processed efficiently toward citizenship.