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Bliss enters 2016 race for Minnesota House 5A seat

Matt Bliss

BEMIDJI—Citing taxes and veteran care as his motivations, area business owner Matt Bliss announced his candidacy Friday for representative of Minnesota House District 5A.

"Last year, the straw that broke the back was that the state ran a surplus, yet the Governor said when the gas got down to a reasonable price, that he would add a tax," Bliss said. "That pushed me over the edge."

Bliss, who owns and operates Bliss Point Resort, ran an unsuccessful campaign for the District 1 seat on the Beltrami County Board of Commissioners in the November election, losing to Keith Winger for seat vacated by Jack Frost.

Now that he is re-entering the political arena, Bliss said he also plans to make caring for veterans a major part of his platform.

"My big passion is veteran care, that is a hot topic right now," Bliss said. "There are 35,000 veterans in Beltrami County and we need a home for our vets. They have unique needs and many live with PTSD. They need special care."

Bliss' opponent in 2016 would be DFL incumbent John Persell. In the 2014 election, Persell defeated Republican challenger Phillip Nelson 7,871-6,385. Persell was first elected to the post in 2008.

"I think Mr. Persell is a nice gentlemen, but I don't believe he fights hard enough for the people of this district," Bliss said. "I learned a lot in my first campaign. I think I have a good shot at winning this and look forward to representing the people."

Economically, Bliss said he wants the government to be "reasonably sized and fiscally responsible," and also hopes to bring more industry to northern Minnesota if elected.

"An area of concern up here is our average income being far below the state average. Even though the state is doing alright in unemployment, we need to get more industries up here," Bliss said. "With the technology today, there should be no limits as to what we can put in northern Minnesota.

"It doesn't necessarily have to be manufacturing either," Bliss said. "We should be asking 'why can't we bring in software development?' 'Why can't we partner with our colleges and develop a highly technical work force?'"

Bliss added that Minnesota's economic recovery following the Great Recession has been in spite of Gov. Mark Dayton's efforts.

"I own a resort in northern Minnesota and have a lot of people who travel to the oil fields out in the Dakotas," Bliss said. "I think a lot of the success, at least in this area, comes from the oil in North Dakota."

Matthew Liedke

Matthew Liedke is the city, county and state government reporter for the Bemidji Pioneer. He also covers business, politics and financial news.

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