A Minnesota tale of two counties

  • Article by: WILL LABOVITCH
  • Updated: August 13, 2013 - 8:24 PM

Anoka and Dakota are twins in nearly every way except politics — for now.

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garagewineAug. 13, 13 9:04 PM

"The Anoka County Board has refused state funding for health programs, dropped the wheelage tax, dropped out of alliances with other counties and pretty much stopped all support for light-rail expansion."----I'm failing to see the problem here, Will.

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insurancefanAug. 13, 1311:19 PM

So Anoka County is making some hard decisions and acting fiscally responsible? How dare they?

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cstoney48Aug. 14, 13 6:56 AM

Maybe Anoka County is just part of Northern Mississippi.

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dazel21Aug. 14, 13 7:27 AM

Bravo to Anoka Co.

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Mark27Aug. 14, 13 8:48 AM

The three main suburban counties have undergone a massive political transformation over the last 20 years. Anoka County used to be the most Democratic of the three, and the only one to vote for Walter Mondale over Reagan in 1984. In fact, Mondale's margin in Anoka County was slightly larger than it was in Hennepin County!! Dakota County and Washington County were historically the swingier counties, still leaning Democratic, however, during the 80s and 90s when Michael Dukakis, Bill Clinton, and Paul Wellstone all won there. But the major reconfiguration in Minnesota politics happened sometime between 1998 and 2000. Suddenly, all three counties were trending to the right, and none more than Anoka County as the exurban northern reaches of the county which were thinly populated until the late 90s began to fill up with very conservative Republicans (the kind that vote for Michele Bachmann) in a way that the exurban portions of Washington and Dakota Counties were not. The counties' political paths officially crossed in 2004 as suddenly Anoka was the most Republican county of the three while Dakota and Washington began trending narrowly Democratic. And so it has gone in the last two Presidential elections with Dakota and Washington Counties going twice for Obama while Anoka County went for McCain and Romney. The 2014 midterms will be very telling to see if the trends continue, and while the current political climate and polling suggests Dayton and Franken are likely to win or come close in Washington and Dakota, my money says the political climate is gonna change considerably in the next 12 months.

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pumiceAug. 14, 13 9:32 AM

Re: "Maybe Anoka County is just part of Northern Mississippi." 'Twould be the logical outcome of secession--first a region would secede and establish a confederacy, then states would secede from the confederacy, then counties would secede from the states, then cities would secede from counties.... One can only hope that the good people of Anoka County do a little comparative shopping before they trade in Minnesota's political environment and standard of living for Mississippi's.

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Interested ObserverAug. 14, 1310:09 AM

My teenagers used to whine and cry when they didn't get everything they wanted. It's refreshing to see a county in our metro area stressing individual responsibility and limited government. Those are some of the traits that made our country the greatest country in the world. Minneapolis, St Paul, Ramsey and Hennepin county could take a lesson here but would need a total change in their morals, ethics and entitlement mentality.

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Mark27Aug. 14, 1311:29 AM

InterestedObserver, "It's refreshing to see a county in our metro area stressing individual responsibility and limited government. Those are some of the traits that made our country the greatest country in the world."....You another trait that made America great? Access to jobs that paid enough to sustain a middle class. As long as the demand for living wage jobs continues to vastly exceed supply, "individual responsibility" and "limited government" are not achievable. While I don't disagree that the government is positioned to do some significant harm to the way the country operates, it isn't our biggest problem....a private sector that no longer needs the services of the American worker is.

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josephisAug. 14, 1312:02 PM

As a resident of Dakota County I can attest to the high quality of life enjoyed by many residents. Following county politics, I can see that the county commisioners are a conservative, frugal bunch but also recognize the need for the county to invest in its residents by participating in the greater Metro area on many levels. Anoka County has taken a different approach, apparently one of isolating themselves from the greater 7 county Metro area. It remains to be seen if the residents of Anoka county will benefit from this approach or find themselves falling behind the rest of the Metro area. Since the commissioners of both counties are elected by the residents, it would seem that for the time being this is what the people want.

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Interested ObserverAug. 14, 1312:25 PM

Mark 27 says "....a private sector that no longer needs the services of the American worker is" our biggest problem......I'd agree with this statement as the number of workers today is still short of the number we had five years ago despite millions more people of working age. The question then is "What policies have we put forth and haven't put forth that contribute to our stagnant economy with fewer good paying jobs." Part of the problem is that we are a global economy with a mobile business and workforce and that's not going away. Another problem is sky high college tuition that should have been tamed long ago by our legislators and academia. The third problem is the individual responsibilty that is lacking in our families and communities. Our safety net is no longer a last resort and seems to have become a way of life for too many. We're going to have to take care of our kids and parents more. Our government can no longer keep leaning on business and the private sector to finance a growing littany of social programs.

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