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Senate 2 DFLers endorse incumbents

PARK RAPIDS -- Senate 2 Democrats made quick work of endorsing House incumbents Brita Sailer and Kent Eken at their convention here Saturday. Sailer, who is from Park Rapids, will seek a third House 2B term; Eken of Twin Valley is going after his...

PARK RAPIDS -- Senate 2 Democrats made quick work of endorsing House incumbents Brita Sailer and Kent Eken at their convention here Saturday.

Sailer, who is from Park Rapids, will seek a third House 2B term; Eken of Twin Valley is going after his fourth in House 2A.

Addressing the 36 delegates attending, state Sen. Rod Skoe, DFL-Clearbrook, said with only five more House members, both legislative bodies would have the majorities needed next year to override Gov. Tim Pawlenty's veto pen.

Nominating Eken, Gabe Brisbois of Mahnomen compared what's happening in state government to "a long winter -- dark, depressing, bearing down. ... Because of the governor's veto pen, the light at the end of the tunnel has been turned off.

"We need the light turned on for education, health care and the environment. Our infrastructure, our roads and bridges, are going to pot," he said. "The systems and programs DFLers put in place in the early 1970s to care for people need to be restored, so everyone has an opportunity.

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"We used to be No. 1 in almost everything ... we have to re-elect people to give us the legislation we need for our local governments.

"I nominate Kent Eken to pull that switch on that light at the end of the tunnel," Brisbois said.

Park Rapids Mayor Nancy Carroll nominated Sailer. She said both their lives have changed since they met when their sons were playing baseball for Park Rapids.

Carroll said it was when they worked together on a waste management project for local schools that she learned of Sailer's expertise about the environment.

Sailer was invited to speak at the National Conference of Environmental Legislators because of her work on the e-waste bill that passed in 2007, Carroll noted. Sailer's bill became the first legislation in the nation to address responsible disposal of computers, cell phones and the like.

In the past two elections, Carroll noted, Sailer "door knocked" the entire district. "She has that great determination because she cars and wants to hear firsthand what our concerns are. That means she really represents us at the legislature."

Both legislators won unanimous endorsement, promising to return to St. Paul and work on budget cuts that would spare education and health care from cuts.

"I don't think it's all over yet," Sailer said. "I remain hopeful."

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Lu Ann Hurd-Lof is staff writer for the Park Rapids Enterprise. The Enterprise and the Bemidji Pioneer are both owned by Forum Communications Co.

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