DFLers endorse Smart, Schirmers in District 12
The DFL candidate for Minnesota State House in District 12A, Murray Smart of Beardsley, taught Republican incumbent Jeff Backer of Browns Valley in high school.
Smart, a retired school counselor who taught social studies for several years in the Beardsley-Browns Valley School, was endorsed by the DFL at the district convention on April 19 in Morris.
District 12A includes the counties of Big Stone, Douglas, Grant, Stevens, Traverse and Wilkin. It also includes a portion of Pope County that includes the city of Cyrus.
Smart obtained his master's degree in counseling and spent 21 years in the Breckenridge School District. He still teaches driver's education including at the Chokio-Alberta District.
He has experience in working with lawmakers at the state and federal level. Smart is the chairman of the Minnesota School Counselors Association and the chairman of the Minnesota ACT Council. Both groups have worked with lawmakers on various issues.
The school counselors association established a student support personnel initiative that was approved by the state Legislature in 2016. The initiative established $12 million in grants to help school district hire new staff in areas of student support such as counselors, nurses, social workers and similar positions, Smart said.
Smart said he's been hearing about several priorities for the district and the state, including education funding, the teacher shortage, expansion of broadband service to improve internet service, support for nursing homes and daycare.
Schirmers endorsed in District 12B
Ben Schirmers of Sauk Centre was endorsed as the DFL candidate in District 12B. The district includes the counties of Douglas, Pope and Stearns and is currently represented by Paul Anderson, R-Starbuck.
On his website, www.benschirmers.com, Schirmers said he wants to help school districts from Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa to Melrose and from Albany to Minnewaska remain strong.
He said he wants to help secure a safety net for the most vulnerable and improve quality of life for the elderly workers and retired farmers of the district.
Schirmers said he wants to help the veterans at the Eagle's Healing Nest in Sauk Centre, which houses more than 80 veterans. If elected, he vowed to donate $14,000 of his salary each year to the Nest, which represents the difference between the old and new legislative salaries.
Other priorities Schirmers listed include agriculture and infrastructure, and new sources of energy and fiber including solar and industrial hemp. He also pledged to protect the environment, and embrace the different cultures and people who live and work in his district.
Stevens County Times News Editor Rae Jost contributed to this story.