He's seeking the DFL nomination to challenge Minnesota State. Rep. Deb Kiel, a Republican from rural Crookston.
Eric Bergeson says he pledged to himself long ago that he would never seek elected office.
But that personal pledge became more difficult to keep after he received a Bush Fellowship in 2011 to research eldercare issues. As he learned more and more and became increasingly frustrated by funding cuts to nursing homes in rural Minnesota and, specifically, in his backyard in northwestern Minnesota, Bergeson first thought that, after selling his rural Fertile business, Bergeson Nursery, to his brother and sister-in-law earlier this year, he would write and speak out about eldercare issues.
But the more he "dug in" to the issue, the speaker, entertainer, author and columnist said, he realized that "policy-making is where the action happens, and you can't sway policy as much by writing books as by getting in there and influencing the funding bills."
So, with that revelation, Bergeson on Saturday, at the DFL multi-county convention at Lincoln High School in Thief River Falls, spent his allotted five minutes at the podium asking District 1B delegates to nominate him next month as the DFL challenger to two-term District 1B State Rep. Deb Kiel, a Republican from rural Crookston. Kiel defeated 12-term District 1B state representative, Bernie Lieder, in 2010. Lieder, 93, was on hand in Thief River Falls on Saturday to witness Bergeson's remarks. "He's my hero," Bergeson said of Lieder, 93.
Lieder, a highway engineer, was known as the go-to legislator in the House when it came to transportation issues. Bergeson said that will be another campaign focus of his if he receives the nomination.
A desire to simply help people is the driving force behind his decision, however, he said. "Despite an aversion to the mess that can be politics, and at the urging of some good friends, I am going to take the plunge into public life," he said.
Bergeson reports that he will continue to blog at his website, countryscribe.com, but since he's now seeking political office, he will suspend his weekly column, which appears every Tuesday in the Crookston Daily Times. (Read his April 8 column for more details on the hiatus he's taking as a columnist.)
There was also a geographical issue to deal with, as in his rural Fertile home is located one mile south of the district boundary. So Bergeson said he's rented a place in Fertile and has found a tenant to rent his home "on the swamp."