Candidate Seifert visits Worthington
WORTHINGTON -- Rep. Marty Seifert wrapped up a three-day tour of 14 Minnesota cities Friday with a stop in Worthington, where he touted his candidacy for the 2010 governor's race.
Seifert, R-Marshall, who resigned as House Minority Leader to run for governor, began his campaign Wednesday in Fridley. While he was the first Republican to make a formal announcement, several others in his party and on the Democratic-Farmer-Labor side have already said they will seek to replace Gov. Tim Pawlenty, who announced in June he will not seek a third term. In all, at least 13 people total have already stated their intent to seek the state's top office.
"The state is a great place, and a great place to serve," Seifert told a group of about 20 people Friday at Worthington's City Hall. "I am extremely excited to share my positive vision for Minnesota's future."
Seifert said the theme of his campaign will be "common sense -- something I think is lacking today in government." He plans to focus heavily on economic growth and job growth if elected, adding that he would lead an overhaul of leasing and permitting regulations that he said stymies business development in the state.
"State government, instead of being a partner, is being a hindrance," he said.
Seifert was first elected to the House in 1996. From 2001 to 2006, he was Majority Whip in the House, and he served as chairman of the State Government Finance Committee from 2005 to 2007. He was elected Minority Leader for the Republican caucus in 2006.
Growing up in the small Redwood County town of Clements, Seifert said he learned the values he would adhere to throughout his life and political career.
"They (parents) taught me that if you work hard and play by the rules, you can realize the American dream," he said.
As a former public school teacher, Seifert said he realizes the importance of quality educational opportunities for youths. He stressed the need for "everyone to be treated equally. ... We now have an education formula that makes no sense."
Seifert also said that, as governor, he would work to increase the amount of contact time between students and teachers, which he said due to a shrinking number of days and minutes in the classroom is at its lowest in state history. He also pledged to reform integration formula aid, which instead of going toward "hip-hop dance parties" should help students learn "how to read, write and speak English ... not for fluff."
Health care in Minnesota, Seifert said, would benefit greatly from an open market with increased competition and more choices for residents.
"Health care is too important to turn over 22 percent of our economy to the government," he added.
Seifert also promised to reform the state's welfare system, which he said currently leads to varying types of abuses. Seifert would make state welfare cards only usable in Minnesota; require a photo ID that matches that card; not eligible for purchase of tobacco, alcohol or lottery tickets; and not usable at an ATM machine.
Worthington Mayor Alan Oberloh applauded Seifert's welfare stance.
"When somebody walks into this building and the first thing they ask is 'where do I sign up for benefits?' something's wrong," Oberloh said.
Oberloh also asked a question regarding the future of the state's local government aid program.
"I'm not for eliminating local government aid. ... I know better than that," Seifert said. "I am for reforming the formula so one city wouldn't get exponentially more than another. I want a consistent formula that treats everyone fairly."
Seifert said he won't be accepting money from lobbyists during his campaign.
"I'm not going to be a voice for special interests, but a voice for the people," he stated, adding that he's planned a "Skinny Cats" club for small contributions to the campaign.
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