Brainerd native Taylor Stevenson, 24, announced plans to run for the Minnesota Senate District 10 seat.
A formal announcement is expected Tuesday.
Stevenson was the DFL-endorsed candidate for Minnesota Senate District 12 in 2010.
“The last campaign really gave me a deeper appreciation of my community and what this community is about,” Stevenson said. He said his experience during the last couple of years helped him to gain more understanding of the issues and the personal effects of issues like homelessness that go beyond the statistics.
“It’s not real until you see the face of it,” Stevenson said, adding now that he’s gained more life experience those are issues driving him to run for office.
Stevenson said such issues of people without jobs or homes, or seniors facing high health care costs drive a need to begin a policy discussion earlier. He counts education as one of those conversation starters.
Stevenson said he’s been humbled by supporters. support“They believe in me and what I have to offer and they are willing to be part of a larger conversation of how we bring our community together and move it forward,” he said.
Stevenson said he wants to talk about the underlying causes of unemployment. People are working multiple minimum wage jobs just to make ends meet.
“We need to broaden that conversation out a little bit and talk about how we can make this economy sustainable,” Stevenson said. “What is the next industry? What could Brainerd do better than anybody else?”
Topics include looking at jobs of the future and how to finance schools, Stevenson said.
“That’s what I am interested in,” he said.
Focusing on education is a key piece of the campaign for Stevenson. He said that is how students will be able to compete in the global economy and having those jobs here will allow young people to remain in the lakes area. But how can that be done from a seat in the state senate? “I think we need to see a senator who is going to take a personal responsibility to be an advocate for this area,” Stevenson said. “I don’t think we’ve had that for a couple of years.”
Stevenson said he has the passion to reach out for nontraditional and innovative sources for funding, including the federal government, nonprofits and public/private partnerships. The lakes area needs someone who is going to be an advocate for the area not for a personal agenda, Stevenson said.
Beyond political parties or divisions, Stevenson said he is looking to bridge that gap and speak to the center.
“I think there is a lot of common ground and common sense solutions that get pushed to the side while the conversation happens at the margins with the extremes taking control.
“Why not talk about things where we can make progress and move forward.”
Stevenson said he is looking for the best ideas out there whether that’s liberal or conservative or not even on the spectrum.
“I think we need someone who is focused on good ideas,” along with rigourous public service, he said.
“I think that’s the difference,” Stevenson said. “I’m interested in doing what’s best for this whole community not what’s in my personal best interest or a certain party’s best interest.”
He described himself as a longtime citizen activist with leadership involvement in the Brainerd School District levy referendums and in “Poverty Bound,” an initiative to raise awareness of poverty in the Brainerd lakes area.
Stevenson is making a formal announcement Tuesday with the public invited to parties at three homes in the area: 2 p.m. at Paul and Carol Bailey’s home, 20938 280th Place, Isle; 6 p.m. at Kathy Meyer’s home at 206 Fifth St., Crosby; 8 p.m. at Andrea Holmes’ house at 8451 Greenwood Road in Baxter.
Stevenson said he expects to receive the party’s endorsement at the March 24 at the convention at the Crosby High School.