Hayward man announces run for District 27A Rep.

Published 10:55 am Monday, November 6, 2017

Albert Lea native and longtime DFL Party member Thomas Martinez announced Wednesday he will challenge District 27A Rep. Peggy Bennett for election next year.

“Freeborn and Mower counties are my past, present and future,” he said. “As your representative, I will work tirelessly to ensure our district has a plan for fighting invasive species, agriculture runoff and soil conservation, clean and sustainable energy, bike path/roadway accessibility and a full-service, acute-care hospital in Albert Lea.”

A truck driver for Thompson Sanitation and a Hayward homeowner, Martinez, 33, attended Riverland Community College in Austin and Lane Community College in Eugene, Oregon. He  earned Associate of Arts and Associate of Science degrees and completed welding and fabrication, certified nursing assistant and health unit coordinator courses.  

Thomas Martinez

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Martinez supports securing funding so Blazing Star Trail can be complete from Albert Lea to Austin and regaining a full-service, acute-care hospital in Albert Lea.

Local officials could have initially issued a moratorium to stop the transition of most inpatient services to Austin, said Martinez, adding a pro forma study being undertaken by Quorum Health Resources LLC could show the path local officials can take to a keep a full-service hospital in the community.

Martinez suggested if Mayo Clinic Health System remains in the community, specialized funding could be received to ensure most inpatient services can stay in Albert Lea, and he discussed challenging Mayo Clinic’s status as a tax-exempt, nonprofit organization.  

Martinez said he supports forming a rural health care consortium that includes communities in Iowa, Wisconsin and Minnesota, adding the effort to keep a full-service hospital in Albert Lea would be a joint venture with local and state representatives.

The DFL Party is more likely to support rural health care access than the GOP that favors the Destination Medical Center project, Martinez said.

Martinez said he believes in single-payer health care, a $15 minimum wage, legalized recreational marijuana, Planned Parenthood, some tuition-free colleges and universities and overturning the Citizens United ruling.

A lifelong member of the DFL and a district and state delegate for Bernie Sanders during recent presidential primaries, Martinez said he is motivated to seek office as a DFLer after realizing integrity in the party was needed after believing the party rigged the presidential primaries last year for Hillary Clinton.

Martinez has participated in a number of civic organizations, such as Eagles Club, DNR Star Pool League, the First Lutheran Church choir and is a two-time finisher of the April Sorensen half marathon.

Bennett won election for her second term in office in November 2016, defeating DFLer Gary Schindler by a nearly 25 point margin — 61.71 percent to 38.2 percent.

Martinez and his wife, Natalie, a public defender, have a 3-year-old daughter, Eleanor, and a 7-month-old son, Theodore. The couple is foster parents to a 10-month-old boy.

To help alleviate partisan gridlock at the Capitol, Martinez said compromise needs to be struck between Republicans and Democrats and a proper balance between spending and providing needed services must be in place.

About Sam Wilmes

Sam Wilmes covers crime, courts and government for the Albert Lea Tribune.

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