ST. CLOUD (WJON News) -- The two candidates running to represent St. Cloud in House District 14B are the incumbent Democrat Dan Wolgamott and political newcomer Republican Aaron Henning.

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Henning says his top two priorities are fighting rising crime and lowering the cost of living. He says the state needs to give police officers the resources they need when they respond to calls for help.

Police have kind of gotten into this social worker role, and it's putting a lot of strain on their jobs.  If you look around St. Cloud we have an accessability problem when it comes to mental health resources.

As for the state's budget surplus, Henning says he'd like to cut taxes starting with the state's gas tax.

Wolgamott says he'd like to see a balanced approach when it comes to the surplus with 50 percent of the money going toward tax relief and 50 percent toward investments like public safety.

Our police officers are facing dire workforce shortages throughout the state.  I partnered with Chief Anderson and Mayor Kleis to put forward legislation for recruitment and retention bonuses for police officers, as well as legislation to expand the pipeline of people going into the law enforcement profession.

Wolgamott also wants to make investments in mental health workers in the public schools and the state's infrastructure like roads and bridges.

As for tax cuts, Wolgamott says he'd like to eliminate the social security tax and expand the working family tax credit.

When it comes to lobbying for state money to help revitalize downtown St. Cloud, Henning says he's in favor of that as long as it is in the form of a private-public partnership.

I don't think throwing money at an issue is ever a solution unless we have a plan in place, and with the east-end plan, I do think we have a pretty good handle on what we'd like to see happen.  But, we do need people to step up and make it their pet projects and be passionate about wanting to make - specifically the east side - a better place to live.

Henning says the state grant money the city has already received for downtown projects is very exciting, and he's also optimistic about the St. Cloud Chamber taking over the lead role of the Downtown Alliance.

Wolgamott says he's already been working with his fellow state lawmakers on pitching money for the downtown.

A year ago in December, we had our House DFL caucus retreat in downtown St. Cloud.  I've done all kinds of tours with lawmakers getting into downtown.  We stayed at a hotel downtown and we went out and enjoyed the nightlife.

Wolgamott says the state can help downtown business owners in the form of tax incentives and property tax relief.

Wolgamott has represented House District 14B since 2018 and is seeking his third term in office.

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