My family has farmed on the border of Pine and Carlton counties for three generations. One summer, a cousin from out of town helped us build a fence around a new section of our farm. It was 85 degrees, the deer flies in the swamp were merciless, and the auger on our tractor broke off in the base layer of red clay. We had to dig it out by hand. It was a rough day and (while it was really nice of him to help) my cousin was miserable. But the fence turned out straight, and it is still standing today.

Related contentThat was one of the first times I felt proud of the values I grew up with and understood how much life on the farm shaped me and made me ready for hard work.

I'm running to represent District 11 because I believe in these values and what we can accomplish together. Growing up in a small community makes you find things in common with people and realize that even if you're on different ends of the political spectrum or have strong differences in opinion there's still a lot you agree on.

Those are the issues I want to get to work on in the Minnesota Senate: making health care more affordable, strengthening our schools, and expanding opportunity when it comes to good jobs and housing.

Families deserve access to quality health care they can afford, and they shouldn't have to drive for hours to get it. My mom had to be rushed in an ambulance from Moose Lake to Duluth when I was born because her condition was dangerous and we needed to go to a larger hospital. Growing up, my dad would tell me about that terrifying drive 45 miles north, worried whether my mom and I were going to make it. When you grow up with a story like that, you understand why it's so important to invest in rural health systems.

I'll keep rural health top of mind as state senator, and I'll work to lower prescription drug prices and tackle the opioid crisis.

I'll also fight for funding for our schools, support small class sizes, and defend investments in pre-K.

Read also: Candidate's View: Hard work learned on farm can be put to work in Senate

And I'll work every day to expand opportunity for our region, which means I'll support infrastructure improvements, broadband expansion, and workforce training and apprenticeship opportunities. I've seen firsthand how important this training is. My brother discovered how much he loves welding at a technical college. He learned the trade, started work in a high-demand field, and now runs his own business. These training programs - and the classes my brother helped teach at Pine Technical and Community College - address the skills gap and help businesses find and retain the workers they need.

When I started working in public policy, I was asked if I could handle the long hours and tedious work. I told them that growing up, when my dad's planter broke, we planted a couple acres of sweet corn by hand - each kernel two knuckles deep. So, needless to say, I wouldn't be bothered by that.

I'm up for the hard work of going to bat for District 11 as its Minnesota state senator, and I ask for voters' support on Tuesday.

 

Stu Lourey of Kerrick is the DFL candidate for Minnesota Senate District 11. He's vying in Tuesday's special election to replace Sen. Tony Lourey, who was appointed commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Human Services in January. Lourey wrote this at the invitation of the News Tribune Opinion page.