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Leech Lake Tribal Council Rep. Eugene "Ribs" Whitebird hands over the mic to former Sen. Mary Olson of Bemidji after presenting her with a Pendleton blanket during Monday night's Beltrami DFL appreciation dinner for her and former Rep. Brita Sailer of Park Rapids. Pioneer Photo/Brad Swenson

DFL Party starts long road back

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Bemidji Minnesota P.O. Box 455 56619

That more than 200 people attended an appreciation dinner for two defeated incumbents "is a sign that the DFL Party is ready to come back in 2012," Sen. Mary Olson said Monday night.

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The Beltrami County DFL-sponsored walleye and wild rice Presidents Day fish fry at the Bemidji Eagles Club honored Olson, DFL-Bemidji, and Rep. Brita Sailer, DFL-Park Rapids, both defeated in last fall's election.

"It's such an honor to be able to serve roughly 80,000 people in an area where you live," Olson said. "To have their trust placed in you and to have the opportunity to go to the Capitol, go behind the scenes, find out what's really happening with different issues, and then have the trust people place in you to make a vote on their behalf."

Olson, who served one, four-year term, thanked many in the room for helping on her two campaigns, especially her husband, John, and the late Dann Siems, whom Olson said was her mentor on conservation and environment issues

"I can look around the room and see so many friends and people whom I've gotten the opportunity to know as well as so much about issues I've learned simply by having taken a risk and be willing to endure some criticism, and it's been a great, great privilege," Olson said.

In introducing Olson, John McCarthy, Olson's manager of her first campaign, said the former senator "worked for seniors, to allow them affordable health care and the opportunity for dignity in their golden years. Mary realized that seniors living on a fixed income were very vulnerable and should have all the help they need."

Olson "stood strong for working men and women, nurses, teachers, laborers and their right to organize and be part of collective bargaining, if they choose," McCarthy said.

Leech Lake Tribal Council District III Rep. Eugene "Ribs" Whitebird presented Olson with a Pendleton blanket, and praised her for her efforts to help the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe.

"Mary did a lot of things for Leech Lake and all the Indian tribes in the area," Whitebird said, citing a language immersion program at the Leech Lake Bug-O-Ne-Gay-Shig School. He also cited a juvenile drug treatment program and Indian scholarship fund drive among two dozen projects she aided for the band. She also served on the Minnesota Indian Affairs Board.

"These are big accomplishments that a lot of people didn't know that Mary helped us," Whitebird said.

Gary Fuller, Red Lake Political Education Committee co-chairman, presented Sailer with a gift of wild rice "for her six years of service and always paying attention to the needs and concerns of the Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians."

Sailer, who served three, two-year terms, said she enjoyed working for "the regular person" and carrying their concerns to St. Paul.

"Just because I'm not your legislator any more, we're still friends, we're still working on the same issues because the same things matter to all of us," Sailer said. "What matters is how's it working out for the regular people in our area? That was the piece that motivated me so much."

People who are well off usually manage to take care of their families, she said. But the "regular" people in House 2B, "how are we just going to keep going. We don't want everything in the world; we just want to be able to provide for our families, we want to be able to educate our children, we want some reasonable assurances of health care and we want the roads to be plowed."

Sailer also gave her thanks to the many supporters in the audience, but said the real appreciation belongs to them, as "nothing really happens without the whole group."

Hubbard County DFL Chairman Steve Engel introduced Sailer, saying that "you and I are very grateful that we had six years of Brita Sailer in the Minnesota Legislature."

Sailer showed "passion for the issues" in all her campaigns, Engel said.

Rita Albrecht, Beltrami County DFL official, gave Olson and Sailer a plant on behalf of the party.

Olson was defeated by Republican John Carlson and Sailer by Republican Dave Hancock. Both men are from Bemidji.

Albrecht also announced upcoming DFL events:

E Greater Minnesota Summit -- Saturday and Sunday, Northern Lights Hotel south of Walker, DFL workshops involving Congressional Disitricts 6, 7 and 8, plus Saturday night banquet.

E Beltrami County DFL Convention -- 7 p.m. April 11, Bemidji Eagles Club, election of party officers.

That more than 200 people attended an appreciation dinner for two defeated incumbents "is a sign that the DFL Party is ready to come back in 2012," Sen. Mary Olson said Monday night.

The Beltrami County DFL-sponsored walleye and wild rice Presidents Day fish fry at the Bemidji Eagles Club honored Olson, DFL-Bemidji, and Rep. Brita Sailer, DFL-Park Rapids, both defeated in last fall's election.

"It's such an honor to be able to serve roughly 80,000 people in an area where you live," Olson said. "To have their trust placed in you and to have the opportunity to go to the Capitol, go behind the scenes, find out what's really happening with different issues, and then have the trust people place in you to make a vote on their behalf."

Olson, who served one, four-year term, thanked many in the room for helping on her two campaigns, especially her husband, John, and the late Dann Siems, whom Olson said was her mentor on conservation and environment issues

"I can look around the room and see so many friends and people whom I've gotten the opportunity to know as well as so much about issues I've learned simply by having taken a risk and be willing to endure some criticism, and it's been a great, great privilege," Olson said.

In introducing Olson, John McCarthy, Olson's manager of her first campaign, said the former senator "worked for seniors, to allow them affordable health care and the opportunity for dignity in their golden years. Mary realized that seniors living on a fixed income were very vulnerable and should have all the help they need."

Olson "stood strong for working men and women, nurses, teachers, laborers and their right to organize and be part of collective bargaining, if they choose," McCarthy said.

Leech Lake Tribal Council District III Rep. Eugene "Ribs" Whitebird presented Olson with a Pendleton blanket, and praised her for her efforts to help the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe.

"Mary did a lot of things for Leech Lake and all the Indian tribes in the area," Whitebird said, citing a language immersion program at the Leech Lake Bug-O-Ne-Gay-Shig School. He also cited a juvenile drug treatment program and Indian scholarship fund drive among two dozen projects she aided for the band. She also served on the Minnesota Indian Affairs Board.

"These are big accomplishments that a lot of people didn't know that Mary helped us," Whitebird said.

Gary Fuller, Red Lake Political Education Committee co-chairman, presented Sailer with a gift of wild rice "for her six years of service and always paying attention to the needs and concerns of the Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians."

Sailer, who served three, two-year terms, said she enjoyed working for "the regular person" and carrying their concerns to St. Paul.

"Just because I'm not your legislator any more, we're still friends, we're still working on the same issues because the same things matter to all of us," Sailer said. "What matters is how's it working out for the regular people in our area? That was the piece that motivated me so much."

People who are well off usually manage to take care of their families, she said. But the "regular" people in House 2B, "how are we just going to keep going. We don't want everything in the world; we just want to be able to provide for our families, we want to be able to educate our children, we want some reasonable assurances of health care and we want the roads to be plowed."

Sailer also gave her thanks to the many supporters in the audience, but said the real appreciation belongs to them, as "nothing really happens without the whole group."

Hubbard County DFL Chairman Steve Engel introduced Sailer, saying that "you and I are very grateful that we had six years of Brita Sailer in the Minnesota Legislature."

Sailer showed "passion for the issues" in all her campaigns, Engel said.

Rita Albrecht, Beltrami County DFL official, gave Olson and Sailer a plant on behalf of the party.

Olson was defeated by Republican John Carlson and Sailer by Republican Dave Hancock. Both men are from Bemidji.

Albrecht also announced upcoming DFL events:

- Greater Minnesota Summit -- Saturday and Sunday, Northern Lights Hotel south of Walker, DFL workshops involving Congressional Disitricts 6, 7 and 8, plus Saturday night banquet.

- Beltrami County DFL Convention -- 7 p.m. April 11, Bemidji Eagles Club, election of party officers.

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