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Rep. Dean Simpson to leave state House

Six years in the state House of Representatives is enough for Dean Simpson. Now the New York Mills and Perham businessman says he's got other things to concentrate on at home.

Simpson announced Monday he has decided to step down from the Minnesota House of Representatives when his third term expires later this year.

"After six years in state government service, it's time to move on," he said. "I never planned to make this a career. This is a citizens' Legislature and I strongly believe that when you become a Representative, you should be prepared to serve for a while and then step aside and let someone else have the opportunity to serve."

Simpson said the desire to spend more time with his family was a major factor in his decision to relinquish his legislative post. He has a wife, four children and two grandchildren. Simpson also said it is time for him to devote more of his time and energy to his grocery stores. He has been in the grocery business since 1972 and he owns Dean's Country Market stores in Perham and New York Mills.

"Rural area businesses like mine all have unique challenges that require a lot of attention," Simpson said. "Although I have managers in both of my stores who do a wonderful job, it isn't always fair to ask my staff to be responsible for all the things that I feel I should be taking care of."

One of the biggest challenges small business owners face is fuel cost. Simpson said he is paying about $1,000 per week in freight surcharges, something he feels is out of control. The problem Simpson and other business owners face is how to pass those costs on without hitting the consumer too hard, thus driving business away. While fuel and utility costs continue to rise the small business owner also has to contend with a changing marketplace and superstores in rural Minnesota.

With Wal-Mart in towns on either side of his grocery stores, Detroit Lakes to the west and Wadena to the east, trying to stay competitive with the superstores is a huge challenge.

Simpson wants to dedicate more time to the day-to-day operations of his businesses to try and meet the challenges and be competitive. This is a struggle for rural merchants.

His decision to step down from the state House was not an easy one to make. He has served several years on the Tax Committee, formerly as a Vice Chair and currently as the GOP Lead, where he has often championed legislation favorable to Minnesota's business community.

"The commitment to serve in the Legislature is huge and during my six years I've acquired a great respect and admiration for all the people who choose to serve there," he said.

Some of the highlights, Simpson says of his six years, include working a lot on JOBZ legislation, something he feels important for rural Minnesota. He also worked on a number of tourism issues and says tourism is a huge player in the state's overall economy. Simpson also enjoyed doing constituent services work, which was more one-on-one contact with the people of his district.

The most frustrating part of the job? "The partisanship," he said. "It's difficult to get things done that way, and too often politics overrides policy."

Simpson said he is considering renewing his focus on public service at the local level after he leaves the Legislature. He has served his community in various local capacities for nearly 28 years, including more than 25 years serving as the mayor of New York Mills. He also has remained active in several local civic organizations.

Simpson plans to work with chambers in Perham and NY Mills, as well as the Lions and Rotary clubs.

Simpson's legislative service will end when his term expires on Dec. 31, but he plans to serve his district in earnest until then.

"I encourage my constituents to continue to contact me regarding any legislative issue that concerns them or their family," he said. "I am committed to serve my constituents until my term ends on December 31st."

As he begins his transition from state Rep. back to his hometown, Simpson is extremely thankful for all of the support he has received from his friends and neighbors during the last six years.

"It has been a true honor to have had the privilege to serve the people of District 10B in the Minnesota House of Representatives," Simpson said. "I believe that I am the luckiest Representative here at the state Capitol."

Simpson's 10B seat is being sought for a second time by endorsed DFLer Tim Nieminen of Wadena, who ran unsuccessfully against Simpson in 2006. No Republican candidate for the seat has yet been announced."