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Ada city administrator seeks Republican nod

James Leiman

Ada City Administrator James Leiman hopes to win the Republican endorsement to run against DFL incumbent Kent Eken for the Minnesota Senate District 4 seat.

Leiman, 33, has helped improve the businesses climate in Ada through a mix of “effective tax tools and aggressive business recruitment,” he said in an interview. “In the last 14 months we’ve cut taxes, improved services, streamlines regulations and created jobs – there’s been a 50 percent increase in people working on Main Street.”

Businesses such as Weave Got Maille, a chainmaille supply manufacturer that started in 2012, are thriving. It now ships over a million a day to places all over the world.

The city landed a $600,000 grant to help renovate its downtown and improve its community center, and also plans to invest more than $1 million in its industrial parks, as well as completing a multi-million dollar levee project.

Leiman said his campaign will focus on improving Greater Minnesota’s economic situation by expanding the Border Cities Enterprise Zone Program to stretch 20 miles from the North and South Dakota border.

He called for deregulating several programs that impact agricultural and economic growth (he pointed to the 50-foot buffer zone around lakes and streams as a regulation that impacts farmers, for example).

He wants to increase transportation funding for small communities, and create new solutions to encourage growth and development in rural Minnesota by restructuring state government.

“There are a number of bold and innovative ideas that will be brought to the people of Greater Minnesota, and I can’t wait to share them over the next several months, as this is our time!” said Leiman.

Leiman proposes that the Local Government Aid formula be adjusted away from larger cities to assist communities in Greater Minnesota.

He also said flood control projects should be an immediate priority, and he wants state income taxes reduced for lower and middle income earners.

To accomplish that, he would use the 2-4 percent annual savings that would come from a five-year state budget freeze.

The end result would be 15-20 percent lower taxes for families making $100,000 or less and singles making $60,000 or less, he said.

He would force state agencies to meet metrics determined by the Legislature or lose program funding.

He supports efforts towards the calling of a Constitutional Convention in areas such as a federal Balanced Budget Amendment, as he believes that the national debt will destroy every state’s economic prospects if not reversed soon.

Leiman served as an Army sergeant in intelligence during Operation Enduring Freedom in 2002, when he deployed overseas for seven months.

He said he went on to become a manager of several intelligence community and national security programs, and also oversaw major elements of the Veterans Administration transformation in Washington, D.C.

He currently teaches an online national security course in university systems in Texas and New Jersey, teaching things like counterterrorism and intelligencer analysis, he said.

He lives in Ada, with his wife, Alison and their 2-year-old son, Miles.

Leiman is a New Jersey native, and said he found the job in Ada through a recruitment firm because he and his wife wanted to get out of Washington.

“We love it, we’re happy to be here – it’s a great place to raise kids,” he said.

Although they are political rivals, Leiman made it clear that his differences with Eken are political, not personal.

“Kent’s a wonderful guy, he’s a neighbor, he has a lot of good ideas – I look forward to working with him,” he said.

“I want to take new ideas, not stale Democrat or Republican ideology, to take new ideas and make that happen,” he said. “I am jazzed to help Minnesota grow and develop – I can’t wait to be part of the process.”