Saturday, December 12, 2009


The fourth DFL candidate in this series, in alphebetical order, is Susan Gaertner.

Susan Gaertner was born on December 2 a long, long, long time ago (that's what she gets for making it impossible to find the year of her birth online) on the East Side of St. Paul, Minnesota. She now makes her home in White Bear Lake. She is married with three daughters. Susan graduated from Harding High School and earned her undergraduate degree in political science (summa cum laude) from the University of Minnesota, Duluth. She went on to graduate with honors (cum laude) from the University of Minnesota Law School, where she was selected for the Minnesota Law Review and the prestigious Order of the Coif. Gaertner first served as a special assistant U.S. and Minnesota Environmental Law attorney.  In 1990 Susan became the first attorney to use DNA evidence in a criminal trial in Minnesota. She has since become a recognized expert on DNA evidence. In 1994 she won the election for Ramsey County Attorney and has held that office ever since. She was twice president of the Minnesota County Attorneys Association. She has also served on the board of the National District Attorneys Association for 14 years.

Here's how Susan Gaertner fares on the questions that I think are so important in deciding who to vote for:

1. How much experience working in government does the candidate have? Although Susan Gaertner has a lot of extensive experience as an attorney and in being the Ramsey County Attorney, she has never held legislative office. Is her experience as a distinguished attorney enough to run the entire state of Minnesota? That's for the voters to decide. I personally would say no. I don't think that's enough preparation for the very important executive position. She might be able to get things done, though. She, however, thinks differently. During her Minnesota Brown interview, she said that her status as the top prosecutor for one of the state's largest counties makes her more qualified to be governor than most legislators. Her jurisdiction includes 500,000 residents. She manages a budget of about $35 million a year, 320 employees and collects and distributes $62 million a year in child support payments for families in her area. Okay, we get her point.

2. Is the candidate electable? Does the candidate have state-wide name recognition? Most people I have talked to, who are not involved in politics, have no idea who Susan Gaertner is. A few know her only as the attorney who prosecuted the RNC protesters. They don't like her because she did that. They think those people should have been exonerated. I don't think Gaertner is electable as governor, although I wish her the best in her efforts to win.

3. Does the candidate have viable ideas about how to fix the crisis that Minnesota is in? Does the candidate have an actual plan for tackling most of the issues, or does he/she only talk about one or two issues? Does the candidate whine that the new governor can't do everything so has to concentrate on one or two things, or does he/she appear eager to get right to work on a plan to solve all the most pressing issues? Gaertner expresses a deep conviction that she can get it done. She reiterates again and again all that she accomplished as Ramsey County Attorney. She is certain that if she got it done there, she can also get it done in the governor's office. Personally, I think we need someone with a lot more experience working with actual state government. She does want health care for all Minnesotans (as do all the DFL candidates). She's also for marriage equality, improving education and creating safe communities. I don't think she would have any trouble accomplishing the latter. She also knows the importance of conserving our natural resources. She would need a good advisor on that one. At the last forum I attended, the candidates were asked a question about a pest that infests ash trees. She said she knew the answer once but she forgot. She said she would ask her husband. Will he fulfill the role of Mrs. Governor? Now I like Susan Gaertner. I really do. I just don't think she's the right candidate for the governor's office because she doesn't have the right kind of experience. And I haven't heard any plan from her about how she will fix the crisis we are in. All I hear her say is that she can get it done. That's not enough to win an election.

4. Is the candidate popular with voters? Susan Gaertner has a following but it's not nearly big enough to win an election. Most voters have no idea who she is.

5. Is there anything in the candidate's past that the opposition can use to turn voters against him or her? It appears that she is happily married to John Wodele (former press secretary to Governor Jesse Ventura). I can't find any dirt on her at all. Not even any gossip. She's clean.

6. If the candidate has past legislative experience, what was his or her voting record like? Gaertner doesn't have any legislative experience, so instead I'll tell you what she once said concerning health insurance. “The healthcare industry in Minnesota, much like the rest of the nation, is the only consumer directed industry where the consumer does not materially influence its delivery and consumption. The result is that the consumer, unlike in any other industry that serves them, does not demand efficiency and cost containment.” It sounds like she's got the lowdown on the health insurance industry. I wonder what she would do with that were she to win the governorship.

7. Does the candidate have the type of personality that can get along with the legislators well enough to work with them and get things done? Does he or she have a history of getting along well with others? I like Gaertner's personality. She's got guts and she seems so real. She's not a fake. She'd be way up there on my list of top candidates if she had more state government experience. I can't find anything suggesting that she doesn't get along well with others. Of course she would have arguments in court with opposing attorneys. That's the way the game is played. I think she gets along well with everyone outside of the courtroom, though. She did get the endorsement of the RNC 8 (sic).

8. What is the public image of the candidate? How do others see him or her? Sometimes what you see is what you get; other times how you perceive a person is not at all how they really are. Most people don't know who Susan Gaertner is, but she doesn't think that's necessarily a bad thing. During her Minnesota Brown interview, she said, "My candidacy is an opportunity for the state to have a fresh start."  She'd better get her name out there soon, though, or there's no chance at all that she would win. Not that there is anyway unless something drastically changes. Gaertner is generally liked by those who know her. She does, however, have enemies, which is to be expected for a prosecuting attorney.

9. How much budgeting experience does the candidate have? Is it enough to combat the current budget crisis? Does the candidate thoroughly understand money? I wouldn't have thought that she would have much budgeting experience in her job, but apparently I was wrong. As Ramsey County Attorney, she has an annual budget of about $35 million. Is that enough experience to manage and prepare for a multi-billion dollar state deficit? No, of course not.

10. Does the candidate have a history of going out of his or her way to help others? Does the candidate truly care about the people of Minnesota, or is the candidate only out for himself or herself? Gaertner maintains that her upbringing gave her a strong sense of public service to assist the neediest members of the public. She believes that the government needs to be there for those who are less fortunate.  Gaertner has done quite a bit to help others, including victims of crime. She also likes helping children.

11. What are the true inner motives as to why the candidate wants to be the next governor of Minnesota? Watch the video directly below to find out.

12. Will the candidate be able to win a debate against the opposition? I would give Gaertner an average chance of winning a debate. She's not the best communicator or presenter that there is, as she uses an abundance of crutch words. On the other hand, she has good voice projection and vocal variety and is forceful when she speaks. She can definitely get her point across. And she makes good points.

13. Does the candidate like children and animals? It's clear that Gaertner likes children. I have no idea whether she likes animals. I can't find anything regarding that. It must be hidden like the year of her birth. I do know that Gaertner spent time reading to kids as part of a national literary event. The following are pictures of her reading The Very Hungry Caterpillar, by Eric Carle, at McKnight Childhood Center in Minneapolis.

14. Does the candidate often say what he or she thinks the audience wants to hear or does he/she tell the truth no matter how unpopular that truth might be? Is the candidate honest with the audience or are there half-truths and embellishments? From what I can tell, Gaertner tells it like it is. I don't think I've ever heard her just say something because that's what she thought the audience wanted to hear. I can't see her doing that. I don't see any evidence of her giving half truths or embellishments to anything. She tough. She, like Dayton, says what she means and if the audience doesn't like it, too bad. I like that.

15. Does the candidate agree to be accountable to the people of Minnesota? I personally haven't heard her actually say that, but as Ramsey County Attorney, I'm sure she knows the importance of accountability. She has to be accountable on a full time basis already.

16. Does the candidate have a team of advisors and commissioners in mind yet? I have no idea, but I suspect she must be thinking, at least somewhat, about it. I'm sure all the candidates are.

17. In the final analysis, which candidate do you really connect with and why? Actually, I do connect with Susan Gaertner. I like her fiesty style and her no nonsense attitude. She's tough.  I admire her very much. I think she really can get things done. I wish I could support her more, but my loyalty is with the Dayton campaign.

18. And last but not least, what has the candidate done in his/her career to help various communities of people, such as Seniors, Veterans, Children, Disabled, GLBT, etc.? As Ramsey County Attorney, she has definitely helped a group of people known as victims. She has also worked with children. She's been a supporter of gay rights and equality.

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