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Werven to seek open Senate seat

By Lenora Chu

lchu@postbulletin.com

Mayo Clinic speech therapist Gerry Werven of Rochester will seek the Republican endorsement to run for the open Senate District 29 seat, which encompasses the northern part of Rochester, northwest Olmsted County and all of Dodge County.

"I'm the right fit for the district given the urban and rural constituents," said Werven, 40. "I've spent the last 10 years representing the district in volunteering and serving on boards and commissions."

In 2000, Werven, ran as the DFL candidate against Rep. Fran Bradley for the House seat encompassing northern Rochester. Werven got 35 percent of the vote; Bradley was re-elected with 65 percent.

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Werven switched parties shortly thereafter, citing differences between his and the DFL Party's stance on abortion.

"The DFL Party expressed disappointment in my pro-life views, and that made me think that I wasn't the best person to represent (them)," he said. "My views on abortion are in line with that of the Republican Party."

A 10-year resident of Rochester, Werven has served on various boards and commissions, including the Rochester Planning and Zoning Commission and the Olmsted County Community Action program. He was chairman of the Rochester-Area Housing Council for one year. He is a volunteer faith-formation teacher at Pax Christi Catholic Church.

Werven was born and raised in Grand Forks, N.D., and earned a bachelor's degree in communications disorders and a master's degree in speech therapy from the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks. He has worked in the health-care industry for 18 years.

Werven said he has not yet hammered out a campaign platform, saying it would be "premature."

"I think it's up to the citizens to decide what they want their elected officials to be advocating for," he said. "Everybody's for education, everybody's for affordable health care, but I don't have any specifics yet."

His wife Beth, a former elementary school teacher, stays at home to care for the couple's four children: Adam, 13; Emily, 10; Tess, 5; and Simon, 18 months.

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