Labor 2012 Endorsed: Small business owner DeGree sees through GOP rhetoric

Tom DeGree is the labor-endorsed candidate for House District 39B.

Tom DeGree, the labor-endorsed candidate for House District 39B (map), is a small business owner, and his first campaign for public office has a distinctly entrepreneurial feel.

DeGree knows the numbers, from his campaign budget to the number of successful voter contacts volunteers have made during phone banks and door-knocks. The campaign has a dynamic website, and DeGree is reaching out to voters via social media sites like Facebook and Twitter.

But most importantly, DeGree knows what consumers – the voters of District 39B – want, and it isn’t more of the same.

“People in this district are independent minded,” Degree said. “They don’t really see clearly down one part path, liberal or conservative. They are just sick of the gridlock, especially what happened with the state shutdown.”

DeGree brings a unique perspective to his campaign, as both a union member and a small business owner. So he knows firsthand that the policies pushed by Republicans in the Legislature the last two years – including his opponent, Kathy Lohmer – aren’t serving either side well.

As a teacher in the St. Paul Public Schools, DeGree has seen the effects of stagnant state funding for education – and the $2.4 billion school shift that forced districts to borrow money to meet their costs.

“The fiscally responsible Republicans charged up credit card debt with school loans,” DeGree said.

As a co-owner of Wilde Roast Café in Minneapolis, with a staff of 70 employees, DeGree also knows Republicans in the Legislature, by cutting state support for local governments, are effectively raising property taxes on small businesses.

“Property taxes are going up, I know this,” DeGree said. “The things they have done are not lowering taxes and creating jobs, even though Republicans claim they are.”

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