It's Paul Marquart vs. Ben Grimsley in Minnesota 9B race
The race for Minnesota House District 9B is a contest between incumbent Democrat Paul Marquart, a veteran of the Legislature, and Republican Benjamin Grimsley, a newcomer to politics.
Marquart, a Dilworth teacher, is seeking a sixth term.
Grimsley, who is from Detroit Lakes and self-employed in the insurance and financial services field, has said during his campaign that he doesn't plan to make politics a career.
Both candidates said they enjoy the door-knocking that comes with campaigning.
Marquart said he does a lot of constituent work while talking to citizens at their doors. Many, he said, are concerned about the economy.
"A lot of the topics brought up during my door-knocking regards the lack of funding for area schools, forcing them to go to the voters to approve referendums," Marquart said.
"Several residents are very concerned about the high cost of health care," he added. "One couple I talked to spends $25,000 a year in out-of-pocket expenses for health insurance. Rising property taxes are especially a concern for senior citizens on fixed incomes.
"One theme that comes up from residents is the hope that the Democrats and Republicans can work together and get things done," Marquart added.
Grimsley said he believes there is a real race in District 9B, fueled by what he said is a surprising amount of engagement on the part of voters.
"The air is abuzz with ideas, unrest and inquiry," Grimsley said.
"What I am hearing out on the campaign trail is that people are struggling," Grimsley added. "They are working to stay in their homes and pay off some of their debt, really not feeling like they are getting ahead any."
Grimsley said the middle class is hurting because of a slow economy and "typical party politics and partisans" that refuse to make controversial decisions that will bring crucial change.
The two-year house seat carries a salary of $31,140 a year.
The district covers southeast Clay County and Wilkin and Traverse counties, as well as part of Becker County and the city of Detroit Lakes.
For more information on the candidates, see the 2010 Local Voters Guide
Readers can reach Forum reporter Dave Olson at (701) 241-5555