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Oberloh files for senate seat

WORTHINGTON -- Worthington Mayor Alan Oberloh announced his candidacy for the Minnesota Senate District 22 seat Friday, filing paperwork to enter the race on the DFL ticket shortly before noon.

Oberloh is a lifelong resident of Nobles County and has owned Quality Auto Body since 1983. He serves as president of the Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities, a non-profit, non-partisan advocacy organization that represents 77 cities outside the metropolitan area, and has served the past 10 years as mayor. With two years left on his current term, he didn't make the decision to run lightly.

"I was concerned about the city," he said. "I've been waiting for someone to show some interest in the Worthington seats."

Of three current council members with terms expiring, two have stated they will not run again, and one current member has decided mid-term to run for county commissioner. Depending on how things turn out at the polls, the result could be an almost complete turnover in city government.

Ultimately, Oberloh decided to throw his hat in the ring. He said he has always thought of himself as a "very independent guy," and wants to do what is best for the people.

"It may not always be conventional wisdom, but what is best for a majority of the people," Oberloh said. "We sure haven't seen that going on lately."

Citing last year's government shutdown and special sessions with only a few select people, Oberloh said the state needs people who believe stronger heads will prevail and will work together instead of "sticking their heads in the sand."

"I've talked to people in St. Paul, and they said 'We really need you up here,'" he said. "I have to hope somebody will step forward and keep things running (in Worthington.) It was a heck of a decision to make. A tough one."

As far as campaigning is concerned, Oberloh said the decision was "so fresh, so new," that not a lot of plans have been made.

"In fact, I should probably call my mother," he said with a laugh. "Janice knows, though."

He is excited about the candidacy, and spoke with his wife Janice about how it would change their lives.

"In the past six years of marriage, she and I have done a lot of things together, and this would be another adventure," he said.

He spoke with former Senator Jim Vickerman and his wife, who gave him a great deal of encouragement, he said. While the thought of living in political and traffic gridlock does not thrill him in the least, Oberloh said as a business owner and someone concerned with the health of the state, he wants to do what he can to help.

Oberloh is the second person to file for the seat that will be vacated by Sen. Doug Magnus, who announced some time ago he would not seek another term. Republican Bill Weber, former mayor and council member of Luverne, filed for the seat Tuesday, having announced his intention to do so in March.