DFL endorses candidates for local house races
At the District 9 endorsing convention June 2 in Browerville, the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party will nominate Dan Bye as its candidate for the 9A House race.
The 30-year-old service industry employee and biology student at the University of Wisconsin-Superior faces no opposition from within the party. He's aiming to unseat Rep. Mark Anderson, a first-term Republican from Lake Shore, in the November election. House District 9A includes most of Wadena and Todd counties along with southern Cass County.
Bye, a Duluth resident who spent his teenage years in the Pequot Lakes area, is in the process of moving his family of four to an ancestral farmstead in southeastern Cass County, where he'd like to one day start a CSA (community supported agriculture) operation.
"This whole city living stuff is just not for us," he said. "We're scratching out a base. It should be pretty homey by the time summertime hits."
This is Bye's first bid for office, but he comes from a politically active family. His father, who serves as the DFL chairman for the 8th congressional district, was a Humphrey delegate at the 1968 Democratic convention.
Bye is a board member at the Rural Renewable Energy Alliance, a Pine River nonprofit. If elected, he said, protecting the environment and promoting renewable energy would be major priorities, along with working to reduce income inequality.
Bye said he's looking forward to hearing what district residents would like to see from the legislature.
"I'm not dumb enough to think I know all the answers," he said. "I'm always open to being educated."
He's realistic about his long-shot odds in the Republican-dominated district.
"I could definitely win if I can meet enough people," Bye said. "I just want to get out and meet people one-on-one throughout the course of the summer."
If he doesn't win in November, he said, he'll try again in two years.
Anderson's ultra conservative policy positions hurt most constituents of District 9A, which includes some of the poorest places in the state, Bye said.
The goal, he said, is to get them to realize it. "I'm really baffled by people in my income bracket that will vote against their economic interests over and over again."
Cecil Johnson, a vice chairman of the Wadena County Republican Party said Anderson, who was renominated March 15 at the Republican endorsing convention in Verndale, has served the district well and deserves reelection.
"I think he's doing a wonderful job," Johnson said. "He's a good conservative. I really like him as a politician and as a person."
Johnson welcomed Bye to the race. "Competition is always good," the Republican said.
In 2012, Anderson defeated DFL candidate Don Niles, a former Wadena city councilman, 58 percent to 42 percent.
DFLers in District 8B have nominated a college instructor and former small business owner to take on two-term Rep. Mary Franson, R-Alexandria.
Delegates at the uncontested District 8 endorsing convention May 21 gave the nod to Jay Sieling, a liberal arts instructor at Alexandria Technical and Community College. He filed for office Friday.
District 8B stretches from the Alexandria area through most of eastern Otter Tail County, including part of the city of Wadena.
Sieling said he'd do a better job representing the area than Franson, who bested Sue Nelson, a conservative activist from rural Perham, in a narrow endorsement fight last month in Henning.
Franson beat DFL candidate Bob Cunniff for reelection by 11 votes in 2012.
"I want to give a voice to our region down in St. Paul that I don't think is being heard," Sieling said. "For me, it's all about the people and not the party ... (My campaign's) an effort to make the best better."
Franson has a habit of saying no, said Sieling, singling out her opposition to a new Alexandria school several years back.
"That's just not a way to get things done," Sieling said, "and certainly not a way to work with the people of this area."
As a legislator, Sieling said, he would take a three-pronged approach, focusing on education, health care and infrastructure. Improving rural access to broadband, he said, relates to all three categories.
"We're in a technological society and a global marketplace," Seiling said. "We need to make sure it's accessible and reliable."