Vickerman to retire
WORTHINGTON -- Dist. 22 Sen. Jim Vickerman, who has represented southwest Minnesota in the Senate since 1986, announced Monday that he will not seek a new term this November.
"I have arrived at a decision I've known was going to happen at some point," Vickerman, DFL-Tracy, said in a press release. "I'm stepping aside with the satisfaction that when it's done right, our government can and does serve people."
After defeating incumbent Senator Doran Isackson in 1986 to win his first term in the Minnesota Senate, Vickerman won re-election in 1990, 1992, 1996, 2000, 2002 and 2006. The 78-year-old now serves as chair of the Senate Agriculture and Veterans Committee, and of the Agriculture and Veterans Budget and Policy Division of the Finance Committee. He also serves on the Environment and Natural Resources Committee, the Finance Committee, the State and Local Government Operations and Oversight Committee, and the Environment, Energy and Natural Resources Budget Division of the Finance Committee.
Vickerman previously served as chair of the Veterans and General Legislation Committee, the State and Local Government Operation Committee and the Rules and Administration Committee. He was Majority Whip from 2003 to 2007.
In his retirement announcement, Vickerman reminisced about the challenges the state faced at the time of his first election.
"For 24 years, the good people of southwestern Minnesota have sent me to St. Paul to serve as their State Senator," he said. "When I took office in 1986, we were in the depths of the biggest farm crisis in the state's history. The biggest challenge facing us was to rebuild and recreate our economy before we turned into 'East Dakota.'"
The idea of creating jobs out of ethanol and wind were "little more than dreams" at the time, Vickerman said, and "World War II veterans were facing the twilight of their lives without dedicated homes here or anyplace else in the state outside Minneapolis to serve and care and comfort them."
Since his election, Minnesota has gone on to lead the state and nation in the development of green energy from wind, as well as in development of ethanol and other alternative fuels. Preserving open areas for hunting and fishing, stimulating growth in family-owned farming and farms that produce direct-to-market products and building "good comfortable, professionally-operated veterans' homes in Luverne and in other cities in Greater Minnesota" were other accomplishments cited by Vickerman.
"Working with folks in my district and in St. Paul, we've brought together farmers, local business interests and the people, through their government, to achieve some great things," Vickerman said. "I couldn't be more proud to have been a voice for farmers and veterans at the Capitol. I'm stepping aside with the satisfaction that when it's done right, our government can and does serve people."
Minnesota Senate Republican Leader David Senjem, R-Rochester, released a statement Monday complimenting Vickerman of his years of service to the state.
"Senator Jim Vickerman has been a leading voice at the Minnesota State Capitol on several issues for many years," Senjem said. "He has especially stood tall on matters related to rural Minnesota, our veterans, and state agriculture.
"Senator Vickerman has long understood the importance of working across the aisle with Republicans, a factor which resulted in many legislative victories for him and the citizens of Minnesota," he added. "He has also served as a great mentor for many Senators who followed him to the State Capitol. He is a special person. He will be missed."
Tim Henning, the DFL's Senate District 22 Chair, wasn't surprised by Vickerman's announcement.
"I guess we've kind of seen it coming," Henning said. "I know that Jim's getting in his upper 70s, and I think it was time for Jim to step back and take time for Jim and (wife) Wava. He's given a lot to the communities of southwest Minnesota, and I owe him a great gratitude."
Henning said a search for a new DFL candidate hadn't begun yet.
"We've had some interest and a lot of people say, 'What's Jim going to do," Henning said. "We didn't know for sure -- we suspected he was probably going to retire. Until we had a firm idea he was going to step down, we hadn't been really searching too hard for a candidate.
"We'll look and see who steps forward, Henning added, "We sure plan to look for someone who carries the sane values that Jim has."