Dayton waits on debates

GILFILLAN ESTATE – Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton made his annual appearance at Farmfest on Thursday. Dayton declared Aug. 7 Farm Family Recognition Day in the State of Minnesota as he congratulated the Minnesota Farm Families of the year, saying that “the values you learn on the farm are ones that are absolutely priceless in life.”

Concerning his absence Tuesday at the gubernatorial debate, Dayton said the focus should be on those candidates running in the primary until the voters decide who will run against him in the general election, and that he made a similar statement nearly six months ago.

“I’ve been coming to Farmfest since 1981,” Dayton said, “and I’ve been all over the state for 39 years, more than all of them put together. They can say whatever they want, but I’m here today and glad to be here.”

Dayton said he has agreed to participate in six debates after Labor Day, saying the number of debates is “more than any other state and I think that’s plenty of opportunity for us to contrast our positions.”

He hopes to have half of the debates take place in greater Minnesota and the other half in the metro area, but his opposing candidate will also have to agree to debates after they are chosen in next week’s primary.

When asked what will be his priority in the 2015 session if reelected, he said transportation will be a big issue “whether I’m there or not.”

Dayton cited deterioration, congestion and the inadequacy of our state’s roads to provide for our growing economy as reasons that transportation will likely take the spotlight in 2015. Dayton also told reporters he would be back in the area soon for the groundbreaking of Marshall’s Amateur Sports Center that he supported in the most recent bonding bill.

“The sports center is a big community-plus and Marshall is such an anchor for the whole regional economy in southwest Minnesota that whatever we can do to strengthen Marshall revitalizes and strengthens the region,” Dayton said.

He also touted his inclusion of funding for the Lewis and Clark Regional Water System in the bonding bill, saying the “next phase of construction will make a big difference to areas south of Marshall.”