RURAL NICOLLET COUNTY - Area farm businessman and internationally-known author Tim Gieseke is considering running as an Independence Party candidate for the Minnesota House 19A seat vacated by the sudden resignation of Rep. Terry Morrow (DFL-St.Peter) earlier this month.
Morrow's resignation to take a job in Chicago will lead to a special election for his position in the Minnesota House of Representatives. Gov. Mark Dayton, who is responsible to call the special election, has not yet made any announcements on the date of the event. The special election will have to occur within 40 days of Morrow's "official" resignation on Jan. 7.
Local environmental businessman and author Gieseke, a fourth-generation farmer, is the president and founder of Ag Resources Strategies, LLC. The company develops and manages environmental quality assessments and assurance programs for agricultural organizations, government organizations and agriculturally-related industries. Additionally, he serves on the Solutions for the Land Dialogue, a national effort funded by the United Nations Foundation with the goal of unifying agriculture, forestry and ecosystem service objectives.
He is also the author of the book "EcoCommerce 101," which argues the best way to get environmental necessities, such as clean water, is reliance on economic market signals instead of government intervention. The book argues for uniformity of environmental factor quality by using indices, which are equations for measuring things that cannot be measured, similar to land management indices. His book argues this would make clear to farmers on the ground level what is required to reach national and global environmental goals. The book's proposal would also attach an economic value to the environmental quality of a farmer's land. The books argues farmers have an investment in the environmental quality of the land, but the cutthroat nature of competition limits their options. The book argues this method would allow for programs to provide financial incentives for farmers to refocus on environmental quality.
"The farmer would have to figure out what his land's index is and how he could get to a better rating, the same as what he would do if he heard corn was at $6 a bushel. It involves the same decision track," said Gieseke in a prior interview about his book.
Gieseke said his book generated requests to speak at events in London and South Africa. He said he has not intention of making his proposals a focus of any campaign he would run unless voter demand for it were to emerge during the campaign. He said he wants to instead focus on the immediate needs of the district.
Potential legislative focus
Gieseke is running for the Independence Party of Minnesota's endorsement in the race. He said he has not fully formed a platform yet for any potential run. He said his run would focus on an approximately six-week campaign with around half the time spent meeting with the district's businesses and organizations to learn their needs. He said he would narrow the comments and suggestions down into his platform.
However, Gieseke said he would definitely put an emphasis on pushing for a hybrid approach to tackling public issues with an emphasis on collaborations between private business and the government. He said people too often turn immediately to government to fill the needs. He said private business can fill the end extensions of government much more cheaply and efficiently, particularly the more local the involvement gets in a community. He added that he does not object to government involvement altogether and said government is still essential as a core to any effort.
"[Private business] is simply taking the baton from government as its [programs] move more locally into a community," said Gieseke.
He said the arrival of new tools for businesses over the last decade, such as social networks, have been the key factor in making a hybrid approach preferable.
"That's why I'm running with the Independence Party. The other parties are fairly rigid, and it would be difficult for new ideas to be heard," said Gieseke. "That's why the Independence Party intrigued me as a vehicle for a new message."
He also said he would take up the specific issues of pushing for four-lane expansion on Highway 14 and streamlining agriculture and natural resources regulations, particularly with water quality control.
He said he has no interest in taking up any social issues causes unless it becomes important for voters of the district. He said he hopes the upcoming session of the Minnesota Legislature is not bogged down in social issues over more pressing state issues.
This is potentially Gieseke's first time running for statewide office. His only prior experience was serving on the city council for the City of Carver from 1997 to 1998.
He said he expects to make his final announcement on whether he will run in the next couple of weeks.
Josh Moniz can be e-mailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.