Bemidji activist (and Zenith fan!) joins the Eighth District race

July 22, 2018

Dear Zenith News:

I wanted to thank you for your excellent coverage of the PolyMet copper sulfide mining proposal [“Mining at the Crossroads,” June 26, 2018]. I stand with the citizens of Duluth and along the shores of Lake Superior who desire clean water. In my part of the district, the fight for clean water and a just transition to cleaner energy has been opposition to the Enbridge tarsands pipeline expansion. I am frustrated that coverage of my race in the Star Tribune has so far refused to connect the issue across the district, but they have have correctly stated that I oppose the PolyMet proposal.

I would also like to make it clear that I support economic diversification. I am from a part of the district that relies heavily on timber and tourism, some agriculture, but, honestly, most of the good jobs are in the public sector, in the public schools system, Bemidji State University, and many layers of city, county and state government that are concentrated in Bemidji.

I have been attending regular meetups of local entrepreneurs, and traveling to participate in tech meetups and events like Twin Cities Start Up Week. I have also participate in Internet governance organizations, like ICANN, ARIN, NANOG, and the IETF. As a veteran of the initial dot-com boom and bust in the late 1990s, I am cautiously optimistic that with a significant investment in free technical training and public involvement in building out rural broadband with free or at least affordable access in mind, small towns and rural people can be included in the wealth created through the Internet economy. We don’t have to rely on toxic infrastructure building projects to supply jobs.

The two things we can do that would greatly advance the competitiveness of startups in Minnesota’s Eighth Congressional district are:

•Pass Medicare-For-All (or at least the plans for universal, single payer healthcare at the state level, championed by State Senator John Marty and gubernatorial candidate Erin Murphy). The burden of having to select healthcare plans for employees in new businesses and small farming operations is an opportunity cost that entrepreneurs in most other industrialized countries do not have to contend with.

Fear of living without insurance keeps many people with great business plans tied to their current employers, when they would be more dynamic, create more jobs, and provide meaningful solutions to existing needs in our area if they could assume that they would have access to needed medical coverage. Healthcare is a human right. The lack of fair access to healthcare stifles innovation in our economy and keeps many poor people trapped in low wage jobs so they can maintain coverage under Medicaid or MNSure.

•Create and promote a regional portal for equity crowdfunding. Up until 2012, to start a business that required a serious capital investment, an entrepreneur had to have a previous relationship with a group of qualified investors—in practice, this ensured business entities were approved by the one percent, and made it near certain that an individual coming from modest means in towns like Blackduck or Hill City with a great idea would never be able to scale up to compete with established players in their market space.

We need to find ways to create wealth inside our own district without having to rely on Wall Street and investment banks. My hope is that local investors will be less likely to invest in schemes that damage our water and landscape than these giant multinationals, Enbridge and PolyMet.

Thank you,
Soren Sorensen

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