2013 local newsmakers of the year

Editor’s note: In a first-of-its-kind feature, the Independent is publishing its ‘Newsmakers of the Year’ for the past year. The Independent has bestowed this honor on one woman and one man – people who didn’t just make headlines, but made a difference as well in 2013. New SMSU President Dr. Connie Gores was featured in Tuesday’s paper. The male recipient of the inaugural award is Marty Seifert.

MARSHALL – After eight months of nearly non-stop fundraising for Avera’s new cancer institute, Marty Seifert could’ve taken some time off. Instead, he started a new campaign that he and his supporters hope will culminate with an election night victory over Gov. Mark Dayton.

Seifert, one of six Republican candidates in search of the GOP nomination to square off against Dayton in the 2014 election, said he wasn’t sold on the idea of running again until the Building Hope campaign reached its goal. It wasn’t until then that he made the decision to get back into politics. He said he told the Avera board he wouldn’t get involved in politics unless they got the dollars raised to get the cancer center funded.

“I took a more serious look at the political side of things when it was evident the goal was going to be reached,” he said. “I was skeptical we were going to raise that much in a short period of time – I knew it was achievable, but challenging. It’s a testament more to my committee than just myself and their dedication and hard work they put into coordinating everything.”

Until his December phase-out as executive director of the Avera Foundation, Seifert was all-in all the time between February and September, raising funds for the multi-million dollar cancer center. He said he did more than 70 presentations to civic groups and businesses this summer, along with visits to churches, American Legions and VFWs and other potential donors.

“It was a really big task,” he said. “It was giving up a lot of weekend time since we had the Building Hope truck brought to different parades. I always believed we could do it, it was just a matter of how much time it would take.”

Now Seifert is raising money for a much different reason. He said while the purpose of this campaign is different than for the cancer center, the fundamental aspect of getting donations remains the same when it comes to reaching out to potential givers.

“The parallel is, people have to have a cause they believe in, otherwise they won’t donate,” he said. “They have to believe in the cause and believe the dollars will be spent wisely. If not, people won’t donate, whether it’s in politics or charitable donations. If they don’t believe in the cause, they’re not going to give.”

Seifert, who spent a decade as a member of the state Legislature, said his four years in the private sector served him well and that people in Marshall got to know his personal side, more so than they could while he was in office.

“Life comes full circle – I got to know people and people get to know me more as a person than a political figure,” he said. “You get to know people much more in-depth when you’re working side-by-side with them. I feel much more part of the community than I did when I was in the Legislature.”

Aside from investing so much time in the Building Hope campaign, Seifert has kept busy as part of a Rotary Club and the Shades of the Past Car Club. He also became more active in church and in his children’s schools.

Today, his busy campaign schedule keeps him on the road and away from his family; he knew going in that would be the case and made sure his family was behind him before making the final call to run again. He said he and his family had numerous “heartfelt conversations” about him getting back into the political ring and how that would keep him from being a full-time, hands-on father.

“My kids are older now,” he said. “The last time (I ran for governor) Braxton (Seifert’s son) was less than two years out of diapers, so it was more of a struggle. Now the balance is there of being able to make it work.”