Independent endorsed by DFL to challenge Garofalo
Arlt: Partisan politics jams progress
Although a political independent, Jim Arlt on April 5 received unanimous Democratic endorsement to challenge Republican state Rep. Patrick Garofalo for the House 58B seat in November.
Arlt, 54, of Ravenna Township, retired in March from a law enforcement career that spanned more than three decades, and included work as a Northfield police officer, a deputy sheriff, and a special agent, senior special agent and interim director with the Alcohol and Gambling Enforcement Division of the Minnesota Department of Public Safety.
In an interview with Sun Thisweek, Arlt described himself as “fairly conservative,” noting he supports gun rights and would support tax increases “only if absolutely necessary.”
Arlt said he believes partisan politics is jamming progress in the Legislature, and he would work cooperatively to address issues.
“I’ve struggled with what I think is a fairly simplistic pledge of no new taxes, no new revenues,” he said.
Garofalo said regardless of who is elected, there will be disagreement about spending.
“Conservatives believe in less spending, smaller government and lower taxes,” Garofalo said. “Liberals believe in more spending, bigger government and higher taxes.”
But Arlt said tax increases are occurring in Minnesota “in the form of property taxes” that “fall on everyone.”
He also questioned why there is a continual shift away from funding schools.
Arlt called recent Republican-led legislation to repay schools some of the $2 billion state funding shift with $430 million of state reserves “a political move” that could increase future state borrowing and debt.
Garofalo, chair of the House Education Committee, said legislation he authored and Republicans passed saved the Farmington School District over $34 million, reducing property taxes.
“When the state has extra cash on hand, the first thing it should do is repay its debt,” Garofalo said.
One of Arlt’s biggest aims is that more be done to help crime victims, especially senior citizens left penniless because they were duped into sending money transfers out of the country.
In his job, Arlt worked with victims that included “sweet little old ladies who still wanted to believe they had won” and sat at their county airport all night during winter waiting for money that never came.
He said the DPS MnScams Program that once tracked the perpetrators by working with international law enforcement agencies has dwindled to one part-timer and needs funding, but a bill that would add fees to money transfers to pay for investigations was not passed.
But Garofalo said there has been bipartisan support for legislation that reduces fraud for all citizens, including welfare reform to ensure those receiving benefits are legal citizens.
“No one benefits when taxpayers get ripped off,” Garofalo said.
Another key to Arlt’s platform is jobs and the economy, an issue he said more legislators should be focused on.
“This is part of why the government is not working here in Minnesota,” Arlt said. “They are not willing to work together solving problems.”
He called for the creation of a bipartisan legislative committee to develop a comprehensive plan that provides solutions to boost the economy and improve job creation.
“It’s not just a matter of giving businesses complete tax breaks in hopes they hire,” Arlt said. “It needs to be a complete plan.”