My Point of View: Rural Minnesota needs better representation

Published 5:19 pm Monday, July 30, 2018

My Point of View, By Terry Gjersvik

I’m the DFL endorsed candidate running for Minnesota House District 27A. I’ve been introducing myself to the people of District 27A a lot the past two months, shaking hundreds of hands at parades and having great conversations at people’s homes as I’ve knocked on 3,500 doors so far. While my goal is to knock on over 10,000 doors before this fall’s election, I know I won’t be able to connect with every family in the district, so I’d like to tell you a little about myself here.

Terry Gjersvik

I’m a husband, father and grandfather. In 1985, I married Dara, who has been an elementary teacher for District 241 for 17 years. She and I have three grown children and one grandchild. We live on a farm in Manchester Township, living and working on the land that my grandfather and father farmed before me. I come from extended farm families near the communities of Hartland, Freeborn, Twin Lakes and Emmons.

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I’m a third-generation farmer. The first was my grandpa, who left Europe at age 16 to travel alone to America in 1920 to escape poor economic conditions and a bleak future. He was taken in by farmer relatives near Emmons and could not speak a word of English when he arrived. (You can still hear traces of my grandfather’s native language in my dad’s voice.) I’ve farmed most of my adult life but have always worked off the farm, too.

I’m the son of a packinghouse daughter. My parents and grandparents all worked with their hands, and I was raised in the working class Academy Park neighborhood in Albert Lea. My dad was a Union Teamster truck driver, and Mom worked in the home before my dad took over the family farm. They provided a solid foundation for me to build my future. I attended Ramsey Elementary and graduated from Albert Lea High School in 1979.

I’m a businessman with an agricultural economics degree from University of Minnesota. My first job after college was in grain elevator management with Cargill during the farm crisis. Cargill was installing computers in all of their Iowa locations, which would eventually lead to my 15-year career in ag business software. In that role, I traveled the grain belt extensively and consulted with countless small businesses. I’ve had a front-row seat watching the changes in rural America unfold.

I’m also a teacher. In 2001 I changed careers, attending night school and earning my teaching license while running summer school and afterschool programs in Albert Lea. I taught at-risk high school students for 10 years but needed to leave full-time teaching as our farm grew, and my 80-year old dad needed me there more.

As I’ve been knocking on doors and listening to the concerns of voters this summer, a handful of key issues continue to come up. In addition to the need for affordable, accessible child care, voters are also identifying concerns over the future of 1) seniors, 2) working families, 3) economic development and 4) a political system that is inefficient and ineffective due to partisanship and an unwillingness to work together.

These issues are my priorities moving forward in this campaign, not only because they are the ones you’ve identified but because they remind us how interconnected we are. A guiding belief from the start of my campaign is that the success of each of us impacts all of us. In other words, we are all better when we work together: Together we work, and together we win.     

I believe my knowledge and experience in farming and ag business distinguish me in this race. Currently there are only four members of the the Minnesota House working as farmers and livestock producers, and rural Minnesota needs better representation. I’m committed to putting voters first, bringing people together and working tirelessly for the community I’ve called home my entire life.

If we haven’t yet met, I hope to knock on your door soon and get to know you. In the meantime, I hope you visit our website at, watch my videos and read more about me and my campaign’s values and priorities. If you’re interested in working together, I’d love to hear from you.

Terry Gjersvik is the DFL-endorsed candidate for District 27A.