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Guest Column: A fresh voice and perspective for District 27A

Guest Column by Thomas Martinez

Thomas Martinez


November of 2015, my wife, Natalie, and I were invited to a Bernie Sanders campaign launch in Albert Lea. The room was so full of people, we had to sit on the floor. I knew nothing about the man at the time, but as he began to talk, it was plain to see this was no ordinary politician. He began by describing the relationship between corporate money and political will. He described in detail how Citizens United gave corporations the ability to flood our elections with dark money. Good ideas don’t become laws because corporations then have so much financial influence over politicians. If people want to change things, if they really want to make sure that our democracy works for everyone, young and diverse people have to get involved in local politics. We have to be willing to run for office in every race: school board, city council, House of Representatives, the list goes on. That really stuck with me.

In 2018 I decided to run for House of Representatives seat 27A because the issues being discussed in the Legislature right now affect me, my loved ones and this community.

I was born and raised in Albert Lea. My parents are third and fifth generation Albert Leans. I attended Halverson Elementary and Brookside and Southwest Middle School before graduating from ALHS in 2002. I went to college and worked in Eugene, Oregon, for two years. Ultimately, I decided to return to Minnesota and raise a family. I married Natalie in 2015, and now we have four children, the oldest of which will start first grade this fall at Halverson. I am a part time bio-med student at Minnesota State University- Mankato. For the last seven years I have earned my living as a driver, first at Thompson Sanitation and now at St. John’s, assisting residents to their medical appointments.

I care about this district and I know our community well. We suffered a huge loss when Mayo Clinic decided to close our med-surg unit and Baby Place. Our retail industry was hit hard with the recent loss of Shopko and Herberger’s. The manufacturing industry has had significant losses with the closing of Bridon Cordage, Progress Casting and now Streater. Farmers have suffered from a disastrous trade war with China and the effects of a global pandemic. Now our teachers, students and families face uncertainty about safely returning to school in the fall.

But I am optimistic. As the father of  four young children, I need to be. I want to help lead southern Minnesota through a pandemic and climate change to a more sustainable and inclusive future. I’ve been reaching out to farmers, workers and business owners about the problems they face and what I can do if elected to help. Fair wages and paid family/sick leave would help. Quality access to affordable health care and child day care would help. Investing in rural infrastructure and a robust bonding bill would help.

I will continue to listen to the citizens of this district and learn from them so that I may better represent us. It just may be that what this district needs most right now is a new voice in St. Paul with a fresh perspective.

Thomas Martinez of Hayward is a DFL candidate running for District 27A.