Seifert joins GOP race

MARSHALL – Marty Seifert is stepping into the political arena once more. The former Minnesota state legislator and 2010 gubernatorial candidate announced Thursday that he will seek the GOP nomination to run against Gov. Mark Dayton. While he’s had a break from politics, Seifert said he believes the change in perspective it’s given him will be a strength in his campaign.

“I’m a different person now than I was four years ago. I am a 100 percent private-sector citizen,” Seifert said. He said that experience has helped shape his decision to run for governor. Seifert said there have been some disturbing developments in Minnesota in the past several years, including unemployment, rising tax and regulatory burdens for businesses and rising health care costs under Obamacare.

“Real, normal people are hurting right now,” Seifert said. Minnesota will be in “desperate need” of leadership in the next four years, he said.

Seifert’s declaration of candidacy was met with applause from more than 40 people gathered at the Marshall Municipal Building. The audience included area residents, as well as Republican legislators Sen. Gary Dahms, Rep. Chris Swedzinski and Rep. Joe Schomacker.

The announcement in Marshall on Thursday kicked off a 13-city tour that Seifert said will be completed during the next five days.

Although he wasn’t the first candidate to throw his hat in the ring this time around, Seifert said he didn’t think it would put him at a disadvantage for campaigning.

“I’ve probably gotten in earlier than most people want,” Seifert joked.

With the campaign under way, Seifert said he will be scaling back his work as executive director of the Avera Marshall Foundation. He will be working part-time, and then phasing out of his work at the hospital in December.

“It was mutually agreed upon,” he said of the change. However, Seifert said he was proud to have organized initiatives like the capital campaign for Avera Marshall Medical Center’s new cancer institute. “(Avera Marshall) has been a great place to work, and I’m grateful for that experience.”

Seifert said he had promised to get the cancer institute project past the groundbreaking stage before running for public office again.

In addition to announcing his candidacy, Seifert outlined his campaign platform. He said he will be focusing on five main issues, including reducing tax and regulatory burdens in Minnesota, abolishing three state cabinet departments, halting development of the Southwest Light Rail Transit line in favor of supporting roads and bridges, stopping the release of sex offenders into Minnesota communities and education reform.

Reducing the cost and restrictions of government for Minnesotans made up a key part of Seifert’s plan. He said he wanted to reduce the regulatory burden on Minnesota businesses, and reduce tax burdens by at least 7 percent for the average Minnesotan. Other cuts to the cost and scope of state government would come from abolishing the departments of Health, Labor and Industry, and Corrections. All other state departments would also be asked to reduce their budgets by 7 percent, Seifert said.

Seifert said he was in favor of halting construction of the $1.5 billion Southwest Light Rail Transit project. The project was not cost-effective and would have a detrimental effect on the environment around Lake of the Isles in Minneapolis, he said.

“It is controversial,” Seifert said. “Even people in west Minneapolis don’t want it.” Instead, Seifert said the focus should be on improving roads and bridges in the state.

Seifert said he was against the release of violent sex offenders into Minnesota communities, and called for change in how sex offenders are sentenced and treated. Ultimately, he said, the focus should be on restructured sentencing for sex offenders, and on incarceration for offenders who are dangerous or likely to reoffend.

Seifert said he also supports education reform in order to make Minnesota’s public schools “the best in the country.” He called for reforms that ensure students get more quality instruction time from teachers. Seifert also called for rejection of the Common Core State Standards for education, saying the initiative didn’t compare favorably to even the old Profiles of Learning standards.

Seifert said his campaign will be unique in that he will not take campaign contributions from lobbyists. That independence would allow him to more fully support the interests of Minnesota citizens, he said. While he realized he would not be able to compete dollar-for-dollar with Gov. Mark Dayton – or even some of the five other Republican candidates in the race – he said victory was about ideas and leadership, not campaign funds.

“The person with the most money isn’t always the winner in Minnesota,” Seifert said.