MARSHALL - Marty Seifert is stepping into the political arena again.
The former state legislator and 2010 gubernatorial candidate announced Thursday that he will seek the Republican nomination to run against Gov. Mark Dayton. While he's had a break from politics, Seifert said he believes the change in perspective that break has 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.
Photo courtesy of Marshall Independent
Marty Seifert, a former state legislator from Marshall, (far right) announced his candidacy Thursday for the Republican nomination for governor in 2014. Seifert was joined by his wife Traci, and children Brittany and Braxton.
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.
The announcement in Marshall on Thursday kicked off a 13-city tour that 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.
Seifert 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 make up a key part of Seifert's plan. He said he wants to 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 be asked to reduce their budgets by 7 percent, Seifert said.
Seifert favors halting construction of the $1.5 billion Southwest Light Rail Transit project. It is not cost-effective and would have a detrimental effect on the environment around Lake of the Isles in Minneapolis, he said. 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. He 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 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.