After Steve Sarvi's quick endorsement yesterday, I received a great opportunity to spend about 15 minutes talking to Mr. Sarvi about his background and the Congressional race against the cranky incumbent, John Kline.
As a former Infantry Platoon Sergeant myself, it became quickly evident why Sarvi moved up the ranks as quickly as he did. While being a no nonsense type of guy, Sarvi also has spent a lot of time team / coalition building. You don't get the opportunity to be an Infantry Platoon Sergeant if you cannot build teams. This team building becomes even more important when you're deployed.
Sarvi has the unique distinction of having been both a Commissioned Officer ( a tanker), and as a Senior Non-Commissioned Officer.
Sarvi served his country in both Kosovo and Iraq. The experiences gained during a deployment are unique qualifiers for public office; problem solving skills, dealing with language barriers, young Infantrymen with problems back home, etc.
The race in CD 2 is a tough race. John Kline has enjoyed double digit wins each of the past 3 elections.
However it would appear that the tide is turning in the Second CD. With Kevin Dahle's special election victory, 1/2 of CD 2's Senate seats are DFL held and just over 1/2 of the House seats are DFL held. Senator Amy Klobuchar won the district and John Kerry won Eagan in 2004.
With John Kline continuing to alienate constituents across CD 2 with lackluster constituent outreach and an even worse voting record, CD 2 is trending blue.
The issues are much more important to Sarvi. With a lagging economy continuing to squeeze middle and working class Minnnesotans, the war in Iraq, energy and health care costs spiraling our of control, Sarvi's strong problem solving skills and international experience will give John Kline all he can handle.
Sarvi made it clear yesterday, he has the utmost respect for Congressman Kline's military service. However, he is wrong on Iraq. Reasonable people can disagree.
While Congressman Kline is comfortable with tele-forum meetings with constituents, Team Sarvi is actively having conversations with constituents and voters across the district. Thus far, Sarvi has held more than 30 town hall meetings across the district. He notes just how important it is for a leader to "look em in the eye".
It's through these meetings where people have the opportunity to interact with Sarvi and the campaign. Discuss the issues and figure out ways to work together to make our collective lives better.
He stresses the importance that government cannot do it all for Minnesotans. This is another strong asset for the Sarvi campaign, his experience in local government.
Sarvi has served in various capacities of local government for 14 years, 3 terms as Mayor of Watertown and as city administrator in Lanesboro, Watertown and Victoria.
Fiscal responsibility is more than a catch phrase for Sarvi. As Mayor of Watertown, he worked to keep the tax rates flat while working to create development opportunities for the city.
Sarvi strongly rejects the term "tax and spend liberal". It's pure rhetoric. Congressman Kline's 5 terms in Washington have left him a tax and spend conservative. While conservatives like to say "watch your wallet" around a "liberal", conservatives like Kline take the money out of our grandkids wallets.
Kline is well known as one of the nastiest campaigners in Congress. Klines attacks on Colleen Rowley's campaign staff and volunteers were classless. When asked about Kline's penchant for nasty campaigns, Sarvi took the proverbial high road. He has made his military record and mayoral record available for review.
People are tired of the rhetoric and the baseless attacks that permeate all levels of politics. Sarvi's experience, both in the military in in local government, have surely provided him with the thick skin to stand up to the Kline and GOP attack machine.
It's an exciting time in the Second CD! With strong local House and Senate race wins recently and the district moving blue, Sarvi seeks to continue to build the party and win on the issues that matter most this coming November.
Not bad for an old Tanker...