Back To: Citizens Guide to St. Paul
I'm happy to be the first candidate for MN House to fill out a page on MN e-democracy. I guess Wiki technology is pretty familiar terrain for me as the co-owner of a web development company.
I'm seeking the Green Party's endorsement in the race to be the next representative of the parts of the Merriam Park, Macalester-Groveland, Summit-Hill, and Summit-University neighborhoods in district 64A. You'll find my website here at www.jessemortenson.com. Thanks to e-democracy for setting this up!
Why I'm Running
I'm running for Minnesota House seat 64A because I can't stand watching St. Paul's critical infrastructure - health, transit, the local economy, the environment - held hostage to the lowered expecatations of legislative infighting. I believe that St. Paul needs a legislator who will prioritize building a grassroots movement over studying the byzantine workings of the legislature. The problem faced by progressives isn't that we haven't hired the right lobbyists, but that we haven't created new politics outside of the capitol.
I assure you that if elected I will be the hardest working member of the St. Paul delegation. You can expect the right votes out of me, but I want you to expect me to be out here in the neighborhoods, working with local businesses and grassroots groups on pushing progressive issues forward. While the legislature is in deadlock about just how centrist/conservative to be, we've got to be out making new coalitions to change people's minds, to make the impossible seem realistic.
I think an independent, Green Party representative for 64A can contribute to that mission. I'm honored to have the chance to make that happen.
After growing up in Baytown Township (near Stillwater), I moved to the district in 2001 to attend classes at Macalester College, and have lived here since then except for about a year spent within a couple of blocks of the district's borders. The bike paths on Summit and Fairview; late night dining at the Neighborhood Cafe and the Uptowner; long walks through friendly neighborhoods in all directions; creating websites for businesses on Snelling, on University, and on Grand; weekly meetings on land use and development at Cahoots Coffee: this is my home. For over four years I've owned my own web design and programming business - IDC WebDev - with a longtime friend. After graduating with a degree in Sociology from Macalester earlier this year, I've focused on growing my business, operating out of my home at 1709 Selby Avenue.
Of course, I've never stopped working on my other passion: grassroots politics. While living near University and Snelling, I became closely involved in the coalition - the Midway Citizen Consumer Community Coalition - that gathered concerned community members together to demand higher standards of the Wal-Mart that eventually moved into the Midway neighborhood. The fact that a giant retailer could refuse to even meet with the coalition, despite our earning the signatures of a majority of the City Council and endorsements from a broad range of grassroots groups, made it clear to me that good people invested in their community can make a difference, but only if we also work to change the rules to favor community input.
In response to that experience, I helped to research and write the proposal for a citywide retail size cap endorsed by several community groups that is undergoing study by the city research department. I helped build the Metro Independent Business Alliance from the ground up, and my company continues to donate time and hosting space towards its website. I'm confident that, through grassroots organizing, we can create new constituencies, change minds with innovative proposals (especially at the local level), and reverse the business model that equates pollution with profit and poverty wages with efficiency.
I'm committed to improving education, taxation and workers' rights to organize in order to fight the obscene wealth disparity in this country. Statistically, the single most important factors in determining a child's educational success are still her parents' income and education levels. We cannot view successful education as the result of more testing or more money spent on schools by itself (though funding is clearly a prerequisite).
While a senior at Macalester College, I helped to lead a student coalition (Defend Need Blind At Macalester, or DNBAM) that fought to keep the school at a higher standard of accessibility to students from working class and middle class backgrounds. I co-wrote a 46-page report with other students that detailed the case for maintaining the higher accessibilty standard. That report, along with countless hours of volunteer organizing, succeeded in convincing a strong majority of the student body to support our position. In spite of this, the Board of Trustees went ahead and voted unanimously to make Macalester less accessible to working class and middle class students.
Despite these difficult odds, working tirelessly to stand up for social justice and to directly create new forms of community is my drive and passion. The Merriam-Park, Mac-Groveland and Summit-University neighborhoods that make up parts of district 64A are progressive neighborhoods. I got excited when I saw the opportunity to run for an open seat and offer a campaign that will unflinchingly demand universal healthcare, the return of our troops from disasterous military occupations, and solutions to stop Wal-Mart from draining our local economy.
I hope you're excited too, and I invite you to join me.
I helped organize the Midway Citizen Consumer Community Coalition (MC4) that worked to raise standards for the Wal-Mart store that moved into this district last year. Wal-Mart refused to meet with the community about higher standards. I think it's time to adopt concrete proposals in order to change public policy back in favor of good business: local, independent companies and living wage jobs.
In only the last 15 years, the state National Guard units have become a mainstay of foreign military occupation. In particular, the current president's actions have resulted in 50% of the National Guard troops' being mired in the disasterous occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan. It's time for Minnesota to speak out against this transfer of authority to the White House and do what we can to bring our troops home.
As a small business owner and young person, I reasonably understand why one-third of one million Minnesotans have no health insurance. The inflated expense of our country's health care system is too big of a burden to small businesses, and it isn't even an option for the poor. I support universal, single-payer healthcare in order to make adequate health care a right for all Minnesotans and to remove the administrative waste that is unique to this country's health care system.
What we need is a proactive investment in renewable energy in this state. If elected, I will fight for an aggressive renewable energy standard. St. Paul Mayor-elect Chris Coleman has agreed that the city can meet 24% of our electricity needs from renewable energy sources by the year 2015. I support that benchmark and will work to make sure that at least one-quarter of our energy in this state comes from renewables within ten years.