Jeff Dotseth has been knocking on plenty of doors this campaign season, from Brookston to Moose Lake, from Cloquet to Cromwell, and elsewhere across Minnesota House District 11A.
And he has been hearing the same thing, again and again.
"They need a voice. They need somebody who's actually going to represent them," Dotseth said in an interview last week with the News Tribune Editorial Board. "They feel like they've been left alone out there."
With strong business and elected experience, Dotseth, running as a Republican, is in position to be that voice, that active and present advocate his constituents deserve and need. Those constituents can support him in the Nov. 6 election.
"You do this because you care about where you live," Dotseth said. "I'm not a politician. Maybe that's what makes me the best candidate. ... I (don't) have all the answers, but you know what I am? I'm a problem-solver. ... There are going to be a lot of things that we disagree upon, but the key is to find the things where we do agree and start with those items and start getting something done. I'm tired of things not getting done down there."
"Down there" is St. Paul and the Capitol, where the Legislature is supposed to work on Minnesotans' behalf but where party-first politics has left plenty undone.
"Down there" is where the DFL incumbent in this race, Rep. Mike Sundin, has been since being elected in 2012. Sundin rejected an offer to meet with the editorial board this campaign season. He also snubbed an invitation to write a commentary for publication in the News Tribune so that voters could consider his record and candidacy. He doesn't seem to have any sort of campaign website. And the most recent post on his campaign Facebook page is from April 2015.
Dotseth, on the other hand, is easy to find and contact at dotsethmn.com. His personal phone number and email address are even posted there. So are his priorities: lowering taxes and health care costs. And the district, he said, isn't getting its fair share from the state Legislature.
"We've been left and kind of forgotten about," he told editorial board members. "A lot of money has been retained down in Minneapolis and St. Paul. We need to start bringing that back to our district. That's an important thing."
Dotseth has political experience to get it done. He served three terms on a township board in Sherburne County, Minn. Despite controversy and resistance, he helped get built a needed fire hall, quite an undertaking for a township. He helped bring together factions and differing viewpoints in the name of making his township safer. Such skills will serve him well in St. Paul.
After working in carpentry and construction, Dotseth has been a real estate agent since 1987. He and his family also raise beef cattle on land in Kettle River once farmed by his grandparents.
"We need good-paying jobs in our area. ... We need opportunities," Dotseth said. "I believe I'm going to be a voice for ... all the people."
All the eligible voters of Minnesota House District 11A can give him that chance on Nov. 6.
Link to the article on the papers' web site is here.