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Beltrami Commissioner Reed Olson seeking DFL endorsement for District 5A

Reed Olson

BEMIDJI—Beltrami County Commissioner Reed Olson, who was elected to the position in 2016, has decided he wants to take what he's learned to St. Paul.

On Tuesday, Olson told the Pioneer that he will seek the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party's endorsement and run for the Minnesota House of Representatives in District 5A. Olson said he made the decision in the last week, but that it had been on his mind since the results of the 2016 election.

"I really feel that it's important to get new people into office and into different offices. I also think what will help me be a good legislator is my time on the county board," Olson said. "It's really given me an opportunity to see how legislative policy manifests in the rural world. It's the counties that usually are carrying out the policies, so I have a good perspective on what various policies will mean for counties."

As for a platform, Olson said transportation funding and mental health care are top priorities.

"I would like to put more funding into efforts addressing mental health in our state," Olson said. "I feel the Legislature needs to focus more on mental health. Our inadequate attention we've given to mental health bleeds into alcoholism, higher crime rates and substance abuse disorders. I think this is something the state really needs to grapple with."

District 5A is currently represented by Pennington resort owner Matt Bliss. Bliss defeated John Persell in 2016 for the seat in a 10,326-8,818 vote. Persell, who represented District 4A from 2009-2012 and District 5A from 2013-2016, announced in June 2017 that he would also be running for the seat again this year.

"I don't think I can separate myself from John very far when it comes to policies. I think John is a great guy, he's served us very well for several terms," Olson said. "I just want to give the delegates at the endorsing convention another choice and see where they stand."

The 2018 election will take place Nov. 6, 2018.

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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