Waseca County Pioneer 111 W. Elm Ave.

Waseca, MN (507) 837-6767


A lot of election talk for February

This past week has felt like I've done nothing but talk to candidates running for office. 
As I write this, it was most recently the Waseca County Commissioner race for District 3. Last week it was the State House Seat election for 19B to determine who will replace John Petersburg.
All of the conversations were pleasant. 
On Thursday,  candidate Mick Ditlevson of Owatonna and Pam Seaser, co-chair of the Steele County Republican party, stopped in to visit with me. I have many thoughts following our half-hour meeting.
When I first learned Mick was running, I wondered whether it was a typographical error. I thought his dad Mark was running for office. Mark already serves with the Soil and Water District in Owatonna, is a farmer and an auctioneer. Tracy Holland is a farmer and auctioneer who lives near Ellendale, whom I have done a lot of work for over the years, creating many, many auction posters. He and Mark have run auctions together a time or two. 
Once I learned it was not a typo, I learned Mick is 28 years old, a 2014 graduate of Owatonna High School and, after spending some time working in Washington D.C., moved back to town to farm in 2021. 
My biggest concerns regarding all the candidates are their ages and experience. 
I worry about how they will fight for residents in Waseca, their projects and needs. Younger people do not have the life experience of folks in their 40s, 50s or 60s. 
But that doesn’t mean young people shouldn’t run for office. It just means they should open their ears when those people are speaking. 
My impression from Mick is he’s willing to do that. 
When I shared my concerns and explained our role as a community newspaper he listened and I felt heard. That’s all I can really ask for. 
No matter who is elected, I will worry about how well they will do serving the needs of Waseca County. 
There are two other candidates who have announced their intentions to run for this same seat, Taylor Zinkle and Chris Rausch. I have not spoken to Chris yet and only last week learned of his moving here from St. Paul to run for the open seat.
Taylor Zinkle is another candidate running for office. I attended college in Mankato while he was attending the same school. We bumped into each other a few times. I do not know him particularly well. However, from those interactions I learned he enjoyed talking about all of the Republican folks he knows in Saint Paul. Local Republicans have always advertised with the Star Eagle and now the Pioneer, and so, every election cycle I talk to some or all of the candidates in the area for various levels of office. I always learn a great deal from those conversations. 
I have not yet spoken with Taylor outside of gathering a few details to include in the news story about his candidacy a few weeks ago. As of late he’s been living in Mankato, and working. Previously, I do know he worked for Congressman Jim Hagedorn. Taylor intends to move into the district to be eligible in the upcoming election. He is a Waseca native. 
One more takeaway I would like to share from my talk with Mick and Pam. 
Pam asked me if I was just speaking to her and Mick to gather intel for Taylor–in other words, spying on them. I think I actually laughed at the question. I don’t know whether I should have been insulted or not. 
Genuinely, I was pleased they felt it was important to come talk to me at all. 
When Governor Tim Walz was running for Congress the first time back in 2006, he stopped into the Star Eagle to speak with my father. My dad had just had a stroke that summer and was recovering, but still working. It meant a lot to him that Tim took time to visit not only him, but all of the newspapers in the congressional district. 
When Walz was running for Governor in 2018, I had the opportunity to speak to him a couple times. He remembered my dad.
In fact, uncoached, he shared the same story I shared above.
That was impressive. 
I’ve been told a politician's job, outside of the political stuff, is to try and make a connection with each and every person he or she meets. My guess is so those folks are more likely to vote for them. I would say my conversations with Walz met that goal of making a connection. He changed my image of him from a political office to a human. One of my favorite high school teachers, Pat Churchill, was a student teacher in Walz’s classroom in Mankato prior to his running for office. He spoke highly of the experience. 
I think people get a little too caught up in politics sometimes and they forget that even politicians are people too.
My family has voted on both sides of the aisle. For me, what’s most important is supporting the candidates who will do the best to represent me and the surrounding community. Whoever I believe will succeed at that is who I intend to vote for. 
Projects like Tink Larson Community Field or the Waldorf Water Treatment Plant would not have been possible without state assistance. Both of those became reality because area individuals were able to talk to our local representatives, who then believed in their causes enough to fight for them. From what I’ve learned, it’s a demanding task, which is why I think it’s important for politicians to have the connections, savvy, and experience to get those things done. 
Once again, I wish Blair Nelson were around to tell the story of how the Tink Larson Field funds came down to the wire, a 3 a.m. vote on the State’s Appropriations Bill, something only done every two years. 
I almost forgot to mention the special election for Blair’s empty seat on the county board of commissioners. My talks with the candidates were brief, but good. Congratulations to both on a clean campaign: I felt confident from the beginning that, however the election turned out, the Waseca district will be well served. 
One more thing, I also had a meeting with John Knotts, leader of the Waseca County Republicans. I can report, he is also a nice man. 
Oh, and Les and Karen Tlougan are very kind, too. I am unsure how involved they are with the Democratic party at this time. I am working on an article to encourage people to attend our local caucuses. On the DFL and Republican sides, caucuses are February 27. Please go take part. 
“The journalistic code of ethics governing the broadcasts requires that opposing views be presented, and that journalists' personal opinions or judgments be left out of factual reporting.”- Sheri Fink
P.S. I think people should know how a journalist feels about something she or he is reporting about.


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