Two DFL candidates for the District 27A House of Representatives seat will face off in the August primary to determine who will run against incumbent Republican Rep. Peggy Bennett in November.
Thomas Martinez and Joe Pacovsky, both of Hayward, have filed for the seat as DFLers.
Martinez won the DFL Party endorsement against Pacovsky in May with 72% of the vote.
Pacovsky said he had thought a lot about whether to run for the seat, despite not winning the endorsement, and said there are still many issues he is concerned about, including the district’s economic competitiveness, restoring health care, broadening public education opportunities, upgrading roads and continuing to improve the environment.
“My big concern is about the economy and coming back from the situation we’re in,” he said. “There’s going to be some big decisions that will have to be made.”
He said he strongly believes Minnesota will need progressive leadership at all levels to correct the wrongs that led to the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis and to restore the economy after the pandemic — “someone with a big picture focus.”
He described himself as a moderate candidate and said he will work toward bipartisan support for increased state aid for local governments, schools and highways.
“Minnesota’s failure to maintain historic levels of state aids has resulted in higher property taxes, hurting farmers, homeowners and businesses,” he said. “Minnesota needs policies that keep current and attract new employers.”
He said one issue hurting the area’s competitiveness is the high cost of medical services and the loss of those services. He said bipartisan support is needed to restore health services to rural Minnesota.
Pacovsky has a mechanical engineering degree from the University of Minnesota and a graduate degree in industrial and management systems engineering from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. He retired to rural Hayward after 36 years in the utility industry.
Born and raised in Freeborn County, Martinez graduated from Albert Lea High School in 2002.
He earned his Associate of Science degree from Riverland Community College and is a biomedicine student at Minnesota State University-Mankato. He works as a transportation driver through St. John’s Lutheran Community.
Martinez said he questions Pacovsky’s decision to file for candidacy when the 27A delegates overwhelmingly chose him as the endorsed candidate, but he respects Pacovsky’s choice to “circumnavigate the delegate system and rescind his pledge to abide by the results.”
“That is his right,” Martinez said.
Martinez noted when he lost the endorsement to Terry Gjersvik in 2018, he respectfully bowed out of the race, and in doing so was later able to garner the support of the party. Gjersvik has agreed to be co-fundraising chairman for his campaign, along with his former campaign manager, Mac Ehrhardt.
“We all have demonstrated a willingness to set aside personal feelings and differences to work toward a goal of defeating Peggy Bennett and turning 27A blue. Joe has not,” Martinez said.
After a week of riots and looting following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Martinez stressed the great work local authorities have done to rebuild trust in the community.
“I demand justice for George Floyd, and I think we as citizens have earned the right to discuss ways we can prevent the next senseless tragedy,” he said.
He also stressed a dire need for global warming mitigation efforts and efforts to keep family farms out of the hands of large scale livestock and agriculture powerhouses.
The two men will face off in the primary election Aug. 11.
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