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Hinrichs wins DFL nod to run against Westrom

Russ Hinrichs

By Sue Dieter, Form News Service

Alexandria High School teacher Russ Hinrichs won the endorsement of the delegates to the Democratic Farmer Labor convention for Minnesota State Senate District 12, held May 12 in Morris.

Hinrichs will challenge incumbent Republican Sen. Torrey Westrom of Elbow Lake.

Hinrichs’ wife, Patti, nominated him for the endorsement. “He is a born leader. He is trustworthy, respectful, accountable, he will listen. I am proud of him and it is a great honor to nominate him for Senate District 12.”

In his speech to convention delegates, Hinrichs said that the couple’s two boys, Dave and Tom, ages 9 and 6, are the reason that he decided to run for the Minnesota Senate.

“It’s a very important time in Minnesota and I want them to be proud of their dad. I want to set an example for them. I want to stand up for what I believe in.”

Hinrichs said he wants to lead in a positive manner, saying the era of Tea Party politics in Minnesota is over. “Part of being in a leadership role is working with others, some of whom you don’t always agree with. … This idea that we all should not get along with the other side and that we can’t work together – I don’t believe in that.”

Education is one of the things he’d like to focus on. “I want to make sure we fund education properly. That’s early ed, pre-k and higher education.”

Additionally, Hinrichs spoke about the teacher shortage and the need to help teachers stay in the profession, citing both the amount of debt young teachers have upon completing college and the need to retrain veteran teachers as areas of concern.

Hinrichs said that as president of Education Minnesota Alexandria, he strongly believes in the labor movement.

“I will always advocate for the right to organize and the right to collectively bargain … and I will always fight vigorously against ‘right to work’ legislation. Really all that means is a right to work for less.”

Hinrichs quoted President Obama’s commencement speech at Rutgers, saying that in order to change politics in this country, we need to elect people who are representative and accountable to the citizens. “And if you allow me to be elected senator, if you help me through that process, I promise I’ll be accountable to you.”

Hinrichs has been a special education teacher in Alexandria for the past 16 years. He has also been head baseball coach and assistant football coach for the Cardinals.

Senate District 12 includes all or part of Wilkin, Traverse, Big Stone, Grant, Stevens, Douglas, Pope and Stearns counties.