Three Democrats vie for new House 2A
The newly aligned House 2A after redistricting incorporates much of the former House 2B, now represented by Rep. Dave Hancock, R-Bemidji. This Saturday Hancock will know which of three Democrats he will face in the fall elections.
The three, Mark Edevold, Roger Erickson and Sean Peterson, all made their pitch to House 2A Beltrami County Democrats at last month’s Beltrami County DFL Convention. A decision of whom to endorse will be made Saturday at the Senate 2 endorsing convention, scheduled for 10 a.m. at Clearbrook-Gonvick High School.
House 2A is a narrower and longer version of the former House 2B. Park Rapids is out, but it does retain Bagley. It only includes two rows of eastern townships in Hubbard County before widening in Beltrami County. House 2A has most of the county outside of the city of Bemidji and then has Clearwater County. It includes all of the Red Lake Reservation and in length goes to Lake of the Woods County, including the Northwest Angle.
Edevold is perhaps the best-known of the three candidates for the DFL endorsement. A union field agent, Edevold is currently the mayor of Bagley. He ran for the then-House 2B seat, but was defeated by Republican Doug Lindgren, also of Bagley, who took 51 percent of the vote among 15,000 votes cast. Edevold sought a rematch in 2004, but didn’t survive the DFL primary, bowing out to eventual winner Brita Sailer. It was Hancock who unseated Sailer in 2010.
“This new District 2A is going to be an interesting challenge,” says Edevold. “It has Akeley to the south; Blackduck, Clearbrook-Gonvick, Baudette to the north, and anchored in the middle is the great Red Lake Nation.”
He told delegates “that he knows full well” what the Tea Party Republicans have done to local communities and schools. “We have to face the problems of cuts in the middle of the year. The city of Bagley lost $100,000 last year in Local Government Aid.”
He accused Hancock of voting the Republican line instead of voting for the needs of the district. “When crunch time came… he voted for it right down the Republican line, and is going to do worse for the district than ever before. He knows darn well, that hurts our district.”
Peterson is making his first foray into electoral politics, coming with the background of being a high school teacher and track coach in Bagley. But he is no newcomer to the world of politics. His father, U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson, DFL-7th District, has served northwestern Minnesota in Congress for more than 20 years.
He said he was a proud member of Education Minnesota, and pointed out the funding cuts schools have faced in recent years. He also blasted Republicans for pushing a “Right to Work” constitutional amendment question, which he labeled as a union-busting.
“We need to get back to when Minnesota was a proud union state for many years,” Peterson said. “We need to recognize that and we need to do something about that.”
Citing his father’s long career, the son said his hard-working, common-sense bipartisan approach served as his role model. “I know what it means to be in a race, to win a race, and what it means to lose a race.”
Erickson comes from Baudette, the farthest north city in the district, in Lake of the Woods County. He is a retired elementary school teacher, coaching football and golf for 25 years. He labeled himself a lifelong Democrat. He pointed out that his DFL career included being a delegate to the convention which endorsed Collin Peterson for his first term in Congress.
He called the “Right to Work” legislation a right to work for less measure. He blasted the Republican amendment to require Minnesotans provide a photo ID in order to cast their ballot in elections. A vast amount of balloting in Lake of the Woods County is done by mail, causing Erickson to question how photo ID would work for those voters.
“We need help in our schools, and we’ve probably seen the greatest shift of wealth,” he said, adding that on policy matters Hancock “marches in full step” with the Republican line.
All three candidates said they would abide by the decision of delegates Saturday, and would work hard to elect whomever delegates endorse.