“An engineer’s bread and butter is problem solving,” said Barb Yarusso, the labor-endorsed candidate for Minnesota House in House District 42A (map). “You have to figure out the questions that have to be answered, and have an ability to stay focused on the outcome you’re looking for.”
Such focus has been lacking at the Legislature the last two years, but Yarusso, an engineer and educator from Shoreview, is campaigning to change that.
A first-time candidate for office, Yarusso shares the concern she hears from voters in her district about political gridlock at the Capitol, especially in the wake of a 20-day government shutdown last year. She thinks it’s time to elect people with a fresh perspective, who can take a new approach to governing.
“A lot of times an organization gets kind of mired in doing things the way you’ve always done them,” Yarusso said. “When you really keep the focus on what you want the end results to be, that can really free you up to find new solutions.”
Having a scientific background doesn’t hurt either – particularly in a district that includes the former Twin Cities Army Ammunition Plant in Arden Hills, where there are concerns about groundwater pollution. Yarusso has worked as a professor at the University of Minnesota, as a high school science teacher at Hill-Murray and in the private sector.
“I think we need to have people that have a broad experience,” she said. “We need a little more diversity at the Legislature.”
She also has experience as a union member, having joined Education Minnesota while she was teaching high school.
“The union at Hill-Murray is voluntary, so we were some of the people in Minnesota who understand what Right to Work would look like,” Yarusso laughed. “Invariably someone who was not a union member would have a discipline issue and come looking to the union for support.
“People don’t appreciate those things until they need them.”
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