By Per Peterson
MARSHALL - After 10 years of service in the Legislature - eight in the Minnesota House and two in the Senate, District 22 Republican Sen. Doug Magnus on Monday said he will not seek re-election. He made the formal announcement to his colleagues at the state Capitol today.
"I've always felt that going eight to 10 years is all a person should go in public service unless you move on to be a speaker or majority leader and I have no interest in doing that," Magnus told the Independent on Monday. "Ten years is a long time. It's been a great ride for me, but I really feel everyone should give a period of their time to public service and then move on. I'm looking forward to the next stage for me."
Magnus, of Slayton, was elected to the House of Representatives in 2002, and was re-elected for three more terms after that. He made the switch to the Senate in 2010.
As chairman of the Agriculture and Rural Economies Committee, Magnus captured immediate clout in St. Paul in his first term as a senator.
A fourth-generation farmer, Magnus is a well-known advocate for agriculture issues at the Capitol and has also been a strong supporter of the state's servicemen and women. He also serves on the Capital Investment, Energy, Utilities and Telecommunications, and Finance committees and worked closely with Republican Sen. Julie Rosen on the stadium bill for the Minnesota Vikings, which will soon be presented to the Legislature, possibly as early as this week.
Magnus said he committed his time to the stadium bill because he believes a new stadium is in the best interest of the state if it's done property and wouldn't affect taxpayers across Minnesota. He also carried the Twins bill for a time when they were looking to build a new stadium.
"I know without the initial steps we took early on there would not have been a Twins stadium, and that's been a great success," Magnus said. "Senator Rosen has been working for some time on the Vikings, and her and I are very close friends and have worked together on ag issues and new energy sources as well."
District 22 includes Cottonwood, Jackson, Murray, Nobles, Pipestone and Rock counties. Because of redistricting, the new District 22 will also include Lincoln County, as well as southern portions of Lyon and Redwood counties.
Magnus said redistricting didn't have anything to do with his decision not to run for a second Senate term, but acknowledged that whoever replaces him will be challenged by serving a district that has expanded by three counties.
"I have a lot of friends in Lincoln, Lyon and Redwood counties and I certainly would've looked forward to serving them," he said. "So that was not a factor, but it is a big area, and more than anything it's nine counties. That's really difficult. That's nine sets of county commissioners, 118 townships; it's tough to represent that many counties, but it can be done. It's a new district and a good opportunity for someone else to come in and build relationships with those folks right from the start."
Looking back on his political career, Magnus said besides the work he did in the ag sector and with biofuels, he takes pride in his efforts to help returning veterans. A Vietnam vet, Magnus has always wanted to make sure soldiers returning from overseas are treated the right way.
"I did a lot of work getting help for veterans coming back," he said. "Veterans are always first in my heart and I did the best I could for them to help them get the programs out there they really need. How the troops were treated coming back from Vietnam is a shameful portion of the history of our country. That's not something I could stand for. We need to treat those folks with respect and thankfulness for serving our country."
Magnus, who along with Rep. Rod Hamilton put together the rural caucus upon entering the Senate, noted there are fewer farmers today who are part of the Legislature and who are able to find ways to serve the state while farming. He encourages rural Minnesotans to step up and take leadership roles despite the obstacles farmers face, as they have to juggle spring planting and the fall harvest with work at the Capitol.
Magnus also was the chief author of the oft-criticized JOBZ program, an initiative that provides local and state tax exemptions to qualified companies in Greater Minnesota, but said it resulted in the creation of thousands of jobs in Minnesota. JOBZ is set to expire at the end of 2015.