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DL native on ballot for state justice

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DL native on ballot for state justice
Detroit Lakes Minnesota 511 Washington Avenue 56501

Detroit Lakes native Tim Tingelstad knows his quest to unseat state Supreme Court Justice Paul Anderson is tough at best.

Tingelstad, a magistrate with the Ninth District Court based in Bemidji, who oversees family law cases isn't deterred, though.

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It's Tingelstad's second attempt for a spot on the high court. He lost a race against ex-Vikings standout Alan Page in the 2004 general election. Tingelstad picked up about 28 percent of the vote then.

Tingelstad also ran for a Ninth District Court seat in 2006, but finished third in the primary.

"The system is set up so it's difficult for a non-incumbent to be elected," Tingelstad said.

He said that most people either won't vote for judges or vote for the incumbent because they are noted on the ballot.

For Tingelstad, his fight for a seat comes down to his belief in something bigger. He finds it troubling that many of the top state jurists want to eliminate Minnesota's system of non-partisan judicial election and replace it with a merit selection, retention election system.

With MSRE, judged are recommended by a state board and face the voters at the end of a set term. Instead of a traditional election in which judges' face off against opponents, voters only get to say yes or no to whether they want to keep a judge in office.

"It's not an election," Tingelstad said.

He added: "That's my pet peeve."

The rationale behind MSRE is that it removes politics from the judiciary.

Arguing that MSRE does just the opposite, Tingelstad said that merit selection just closes off the selection process to the public.

"It will just be as political and partisan, and behind the scenes," he said.

The move of the state judiciary supporting MSRE is that the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in a 5-4 vote in 2007 against the state's limits on what judges could say during a campaign.

Another concern for Tingelstad is that a judicial selection commission tends to pick its own for court seats instead of being an independent body.

Four of the current state Supreme Court justices served on the Minnesota Judicial Selection Commission.

"To me, that should tell the public (about judicial selection)," Tingelstad said.

There is a danger to doing away with judicial selection, said Tingelstad. He said that it amounts to removing an element of democracy.

"You have to get rid of elections to save the democracy," Tingelstad said, summarizing the arguments that supporters of MSRE's make.

The public won't go for the plan either, Tingelstad said, if they are informed about what it's about. He said most people just don't know enough about the judges they vote for now.

"They (MSRE proponents) know people don't want to give up their right to constitutionally elect judges," Tingelstad said. "If people understand what is really being proposed, they will be overwhelmingly against it."

Besides fighting to keep traditional judicial elections in place, Tingelstad said he's working to have a religious foundation behind the court.

He sees the ultimate basis of justice coming from God and that justice is served when one fears God.

"Without God, then we have no such thing as absolute truth," Tingelstad said.

Pointing to the U.S. Constitution, he said that it comes from a religious point of view.

"Under the Constitution, there is a great foundation to our system, and that is absolute truth," Tingelstad said.

While he sees religion as essential to our society, he doesn't want the public to fear it. He said that deep down; secular humanism is a type of religious belief because it serves as a foundation for one's own values.

He understands that having a religious-base isn't the politically correct view currently.

"They (the voters) may reject me because of that," Tingelstad said.

As the campaign winds down to its last month, Tingelstad won't be garnering the same attention as the U.S. Senate candidates.

Despite the limitations with money and time, he's trying to spread his message.

"I'll speak to any party that wants me," Tingelstad said.

Whether or not he loses, he won't be too disappointed. He said he likes his job and the Bemidji area.

His secondary goal, topped only by winning the race, is sparking a discussion of the issues he's trying to raise.

"I'm concerned about a nation that is so divided right now," Tingelstad said. "We can't stay strong if we are divided." Detroit Lakes native Tim Tingelstad knows his quest to unseat state Supreme Court Justice Paul Anderson is tough at best.

Tingelstad, a magistrate with the Ninth District Court based in Bemidji, who oversees family law cases isn't deterred, though.

It's Tingelstad's second attempt for a spot on the high court. He lost a race against ex-Vikings standout Alan Page in the 2004 general election. Tingelstad picked up about 28 percent of the vote then.

Tingelstad also ran for a Ninth District Court seat in 2006, but finished third in the primary.

"The system is set up so it's difficult for a non-incumbent to be elected," Tingelstad said.

He said that most people either won't vote for judges or vote for the incumbent because they are noted on the ballot.

For Tingelstad, his fight for a seat comes down to his belief in something bigger. He finds it troubling that many of the top state jurists want to eliminate Minnesota's system of non-partisan judicial election and replace it with a merit selection, retention election system.

With MSRE, judged are recommended by a state board and face the voters at the end of a set term. Instead of a traditional election in which judges' face off against opponents, voters only get to say yes or no to whether they want to keep a judge in office.

"It's not an election," Tingelstad said.

He added: "That's my pet peeve."

The rationale behind MSRE is that it removes politics from the judiciary.

Arguing that MSRE does just the opposite, Tingelstad said that merit selection just closes off the selection process to the public.

"It will just be as political and partisan, and behind the scenes," he said.

The move of the state judiciary supporting MSRE is that the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in a 5-4 vote in 2007 against the state's limits on what judges could say during a campaign.

Another concern for Tingelstad is that a judicial selection commission tends to pick its own for court seats instead of being an independent body.

Four of the current state Supreme Court justices served on the Minnesota Judicial Selection Commission.

"To me, that should tell the public (about judicial selection)," Tingelstad said.

There is a danger to doing away with judicial selection, said Tingelstad. He said that it amounts to removing an element of democracy.

"You have to get rid of elections to save the democracy," Tingelstad said, summarizing the arguments that supporters of MSRE's make.

The public won't go for the plan either, Tingelstad said, if they are informed about what it's about. He said most people just don't know enough about the judges they vote for now.

"They (MSRE proponents) know people don't want to give up their right to constitutionally elect judges," Tingelstad said. "If people understand what is really being proposed, they will be overwhelmingly against it."

Besides fighting to keep traditional judicial elections in place, Tingelstad said he's working to have a religious foundation behind the court.

He sees the ultimate basis of justice coming from God and that justice is served when one fears God.

"Without God, then we have no such thing as absolute truth," Tingelstad said.

Pointing to the U.S. Constitution, he said that it comes from a religious point of view.

"Under the Constitution, there is a great foundation to our system, and that is absolute truth," Tingelstad said.

While he sees religion as essential to our society, he doesn't want the public to fear it. He said that deep down; secular humanism is a type of religious belief because it serves as a foundation for one's own values.

He understands that having a religious-base isn't the politically correct view currently.

"They (the voters) may reject me because of that," Tingelstad said.

As the campaign winds down to its last month, Tingelstad won't be garnering the same attention as the U.S. Senate candidates.

Despite the limitations with money and time, he's trying to spread his message.

"I'll speak to any party that wants me," Tingelstad said.

Whether or not he loses, he won't be too disappointed. He said he likes his job and the Bemidji area.

His secondary goal, topped only by winning the race, is sparking a discussion of the issues he's trying to raise.

"I'm concerned about a nation that is so divided right now," Tingelstad said. "We can't stay strong if we are divided."

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