The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

Recent Alumnus to run for State House seat

By Patricia Bass

While many college graduates spend their first six months of “freedom”transitioning from Café Mac and term papers to a nine to five workday, Jesse Mortenson ’05 has announced that he will run for a seat in the Minnesota House of Representatives.

Mortenson, a sociology major, small business owner and Green Party member, announced his candidacy for seat 64A on Nov. 16 to a group of supporters at the state capital building. The seat, which represents a district that includes the Macalester-Groveland area, was previously held by another Macalester alumnus, DFL House Minority Leader Matt Entenza ’83, who will leave the seat open next year in order to run for Attorney General.

“It is going to be an uphill battle,” Mortenson said. “There is still age discrimination out there, and we are going to have to work harder than any of the other candidates.”

He attended the Nov. 18 Macalester student forum to let students know he was running, get their input, and tell them about the MacUnion web site which he developed last year to coordinate activism between current students and alumni.

“[At Macalester], there is very incredible creative thinking about where we’re at and how to bring groups together who are historically torn apart,” he said.

As a student, Mortenson was known for his on-campus activism.

“He’s one of the brightest students I’ve taught at Macalester,” Sociology Department Chair Terry Boychuk said. “I taught him in three classes, and I am both amazed and awed by the way he was a great student and a committed activist. He gives a damn and I admire that.”

Fellow students also plan to support Mortenson in his campaign.

“Jesse’s a great activist,” Erik Forman ’08 said. “He’s done a lot for the school and I’m sure he’ll do a lot for the state.”

Mortenson’s platform includes a dedication to small local business, grassroots action and progressive politics.

“This is the opportunity to elect somebody who is not the typical urban liberal legislator,” Mortenson said. “I want to make politics accountable to the progressive movement.”

Specifically, he said he plans to organize and promote local businesses over corporate chains, fight jumps in tuition for higher education and work on increasing the availability of healthcare. He is also dedicated to bringing home the Minnesota National Guard, which he calls “historically state-based, making a resolution passed at state-level a strong statement.”

Mortenson will find out in the spring whether he will receive the Green Party endorsement that he is seeking. He has worked with the Green Party at the state level for three years, and at the local level for one and a half years. He also organized the Midway Citizen Consumer Community Coalition, which fought to raise standards for the Wal-Mart store that recently moved into the Midway area.

“We need to bring back the idea that legislators can also be community leaders,” Mortenson said. “We need someone who will grant credibility to progressive politics.”

His supporters at Macalester seem to think he can bring that credibility.

“I wish him the best,” Boychuk said. “I think it would be the best thing for Minnesota if he were elected.

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