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Stevens County coordinator to run against Ingebrigtsen

Stevens County Coordinator Jim Thoreen said last week that he will seek the DFL endorsement to challenge Minnesota District 11 Republican Senator Bill Ingebrigtsen of Alexandria.

Thoreen, 64, of Morris, is retiring from his county position this summer after 12 years. He's also worked as a county administrator in three other counties during his career.

District 11 is comprised of Stevens, Douglas, Grant and Todd counties. Ingebrigtsen's first four-year term ends this year.

The Senate District 11 DFL endorsing convention is Thursday, April 8, at 6 p.m. at Alexandria Technical College.

"I seek election to represent the needs of rural Minnesotans who want and need good jobs to help support our communities," Thoreen said.

Schools face challenges of funding and declining enrollments, and higher education tuition needs to be affordable to help ensure an educated and capable work force, he said.

"We never leave the environment of jobs, jobs, jobs," Thoreen said.

Thoreen said his 30 years working in government administration has given him experience in a variety of issues, such as public roads, environmental issues and property tax administration.

In his position, Thoreen said he is keenly aware of the state's current budget crisis and the deeper pool of red ink forecasted for the 2011-2012 biennium.

"Unless we make fundamental changes to the way Minnesota government works at all levels," Thoreen said, "it is difficult to foresee continuation of the quality of life we have come to know and expect. I can help guide us to new ways of reducing the cost of government."

Thoreen said that he is open to new ideas about the way we tax citizens and the current mix of taxes.

"Too often we neglect full discussion of the 'T' word and the three-letter 'F' word - tax and fee," he said. "But demographic realities of the state and nation dictate that new approaches to revenues be found by working together across party lines, while balancing the spending side. That's what we have done in years gone by; a bipartisan approach is essential if we are to succeed. The current "my way or the highway" mentality has to change for both parties."

Thoreen also said he will tackle a progressive social agenda.

"Make no mistake, changes are coming to the way we do business, but we also cannot fail to serve the neediest among us," Thoreen said. "We must continue to provide adequate health and social care to those who cannot fend for themselves: the elderly, mentally and physically challenged."

Thoreen has been married to his wife Bonnie for 39 years and they have three sons who live in the Twin Cities area, Matt, Mark and Tim who, along with his wife Mary, have one daughter.

In addition to his government service, Thoreen has been active in radio and television work. He is a Vietnam-era Army veteran, is an active member of the Morris Kiwanis club, sings in a men's quartet and serves the addiction recovery community as the result of 28 years of recovery from alcoholism.

Thoreen said his greatest asset is a willingness to listen to district residents.

"I cannot succeed without listening to the voices of all interests and balancing those varied opinions to arrive at solutions," he said.