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Bemidji Mayor Richard Lehmann, left, the Republican candidate for House 4A, talks about moral values and boosting education during a meet and greet Wednesday night in Bemidji that featured House Minority Leader Kurt Zellers, R-Maple Grove. Pioneer Photo/ Brad Swenson

House 4A Campaign: Lehmann cites moral values, education

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The United States needs to return to its moral roots, which include strong support of core education values, says Richard Lehmann, Republican candidate for House 4A.

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"We're losing our country to the liberal way of thinking," Lehmann said Wednesday night during a "meet and greet" with about a dozen people at the Cabin Coffeehouse.

He referred to the decision of a California judge to allow same-sex marriages even though the voters of California voted to ban it.

"We cannot keep going in that direction, because the country that my parents and your parents ... and all of our ancestors built the way it is today, is going away," he said. "and it's going away in a hurry. And that's because we just haven't maintained our set of moral values. And it's time to get them back."

It's time to put the country and the state back on the right track, said Lehmann, Bemidji's mayor, "and become the educational leader that ew have been in the past."

He called for an educational system that prepares students for careers, especially in STEM -- Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. "STEM is something implemented in the high school system. And it's going to get people prepared to move out of the high school and into the higher education field and toward good-paying jobs."

The evening included House Minority Leader Kurt Zellers, R-Maple Grove, who Wednesday attended similar meet-and-greet sessions throughout northwest Minnesota, including one for House 2B candidate Dave Hancock.

The 3Ms and Marvin Windows of the world "would stay here in Minnesota instead of going someplace else because we have the workforce," Lehmann said.

While higher college tuition is a concern, Lehmann said one can't just look at the cost of tuition.

"You have to look at the education system overall," he said, saying more work needs to be done on the fundamentals of reading, writing and math at the sixth-grade level. A former teacher, he said basic math at the ninth through 11th-grade levels "were next to impossible. Their spelling skills were minimal at best."

The basic elements of education are reading, writing and math, regardless if it's Bagley, Bemidji, Red Lake or Minnetonka, he said. "Get people proficient at that in the elementary school, then start working more math."

Oral and writing skills need to be honed, and then at the high school level, work on STEM, he said.

"When you have an educated workforce, and businesses realize that, and we have taxes that encourage those businesses to stay here, now all of a sudden these people are going to move out of college and move into good-paying jobs," Lehmann said. "Now tuition isn't quite as important because now they have jobs that will help them pay back that tuition."

But there has to be jobs, he admitted.

"I'm not saying that college tuition is cheap -- that's not at all the case," he said. "But if they know when they get out of college that they're going to have jobs, if they want to stay in Minnesota, then we need to create an environment that's going to keep those jobs here and attract more business and help with expansion."

Zellers talked of the Republicans creating a new Minnesota Miracle, a reference to the early 1970s Minnesota Miracle which had the state buy into K-12 education, lowering property taxes.

"It's not just a new government program but it means 3M opening a plant here or Marvin Windows opening a new plant in Minnesota and not North Dakota," Zellers said. "The new Minnesota Miracle for us is not only jobs, new jobs coming into the state, but keeping the jobs we have."

Republicans have "a basic, down-to-earth respect for the taxpayer dollars," Zellers said. "Right now, people are having to deal with a lot less money in their family budget."

He said Lehmann has been a good steward of the city's dollars and that effort is needed in St. Paul. "We know Mayor Lehmann can come to St. Paul and help us do a great job.

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