Manchester farmer announces run for 27A

Published 8:56 pm Tuesday, March 13, 2018

A longtime Manchester farmer announced Monday his candidacy for District 27A representative.

DFLer Terry Gjersvik, 57, will challenge District 27A Rep. Peggy Bennett, R-Albert Lea, and fellow Democrats Colin Minehart and Thomas Martinez for the seat.

“I am running for state representative because I want to give back to the area that has given me so much,” Gjersvik said in a press release announcing his candidacy. “My experiences as a father, farmer, teacher and businessman have given me a breadth of experience and an appreciation of the issues facing the people and businesses of District 27A.

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“I pledge to work my tail off on economic development, education and health care for Greater Minnesota.”

Terry Gjersvik

Gjersvik said ensuring health care is accessible is one of his priorities.

“Nothing is more important than the health of those around us, especially those we love, our family and friends, which is why I believe we must work harder to address the accessibility of rural health care,” he said. “I’ve been a member of the Mayo Patients and Family Advisory Council since 2006, and I’m committed to bringing rural health care issues to the forefront in St. Paul.”

After spending 15 years in the agriculture software industry, Gjersvik began attending night school at Minnesota State University-Mankato and earned his teaching license, working as a special education teacher for nine years before deciding to focus on farming.

Gjersvik was a finalist for the Albert Lea Teacher of the Year award in 2012 and continues to teach on a part-time basis.

He said he wants to improve the lives of district residents, adding when he began teaching in Albert Lea, he noticed there were more students coming to school who were struggling.

“The middle class was shrinking, and there were kids coming to school with unmet basic needs,” he said.

Gjersvik said he wants to help pass legislation that improves the quality of life for Freeborn County residents. He said the cost of health care has increased substantially, adding the reasons for price increases need to be established for a solution to be formed.

“It’s a complicated system, and I guess the place to start is to start to understand how that system works,” Gjersvik said.

He said the community is upset they weren’t consulted before Mayo Clinic Health System announced last June it would transition most inpatient services from Albert Lea to Austin, noting the plan’s possible effect on economic development.

As a member of the health care council, Gjersvik predicted further changes due to the changing nature of health care, but said access to care does not have to be limited just because Freeborn County is in a rural setting.

Gjersvik said it is important to look for solutions to problems, not to attack individuals.

Regarding local bonding projects, Gjersvik said he understands though the state budget must be balanced, he would advocate for local bonding projects.

“I would do everything I could to see those projects get moved along,” he said.

As a child, Gjersvik lived near Albert Lea Lake, and at age 10, his family moved to Manchester Township so his father could take over the family farm, which Gjersvik farms today with his wife, Dara.

According to the release, as a boy, Gjersvik played with friends near Albert Lea Lake. His mother, Patricia, a League of Women Voters activist, reportedly worked to clean up the lake, and she had her son undertake voter turnout efforts for the 1976 election.

Gjersvik served as a legislative intern in St. Paul while earning an agricultural economics degree from the University of Minnesota.

He said he is “pretty new” at politics, and “not a polished politician by any means.” 

Gjersvik differentiated himself from fellow candidates by his experience in public and private sectors and his knowledge of agriculture, a leading local industry.

“I’m not running against anybody,” he said. “I’m running for solutions.”

About Sam Wilmes

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

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