A candidate with an extensive military background, Joel A. Novak of Alexandria, recently announced that he will be running as a Republican for U.S. representative in Minnesota's 7th Congressional District in 2020.

The incumbent is Collin Peterson, DFL-Detroit Lakes, who has held the office since his election in 1990.

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Novak has lived in western Minnesota his whole life, 58 years. He said he's running for many reasons, but two stand out:

"One, for the past 29 years, the views of the people of western Minnesota have not been represented in Washington," he said. "Number two, I want to represent those views. My views, our views, are American views."

Novak said he believes in liberty, adding that the U.S. was founded on the idea.

"Our opponents want to tell us we must send more money to Washington than is fair," Novak said. "Our opponents want to tell us we cannot say what we believe. Our opponents tell us we cannot keep our arms. That is not liberty. That is not what America stands for."

Novak said he believes that human life has an intrinsic worth. "It can be taken in a case of self-defense, or defense of another, or under combatant immunity - but it cannot be taken because someone decided to have sex a couple of months ago with someone they did not want to have a child with - after they decided not to use contraception."

He said he believes in equal rights and equal responsibilities for every American. "Unlike our opponents, we do not believe that inferior people need to be lifted. Every human being is a child of God. If they are given equal rights and equal responsibilities, they can succeed."

Novak graduated from Jefferson Senior High in Alexandria, and received a degree in political science, pre-law and military science at Drake University.

He earned a juris doctor degree from Drake University Law School, and received his master's degree in military law, with a specialty in criminal law, from The Judge Advocate General's School.

Novak enlisted in 1977; served as an airborne soldier from 1981-1984 in the 82nd Airborne Division, was commissioned in 1987 and retired in 2008. He's earned more than 25 awards and decorations for his military service.