Carol Grishen, Independent

Carol Grishen is a first-time candidate for the Independence Party.

Alan Butterworth

Carol Grishen wears her independence on her head with a baseball cap that reads, “You bet I am the only one!”

Grishen, an Independence Party candidate who is running for a seat in the State House, is a first-time runner. Her priority is education.

She said her reason for running for the Independence Party stems in part from a disappointment in the other parties.

“I’m kind of fed up with the lies – they promise you everything, they do nothing,” Grishen said. “You can’t buy an Independence Party candidate.

“We won’t take any money from any corporations, any unions – so we can’t be influenced by their dollars, and that ensures that we can represent the people that put us in office.”

To fund her initiatives, Grishen said she proposes diverting some of the money raised from gambling to health care. This money usually goes toward environmental issues, but Grishen said she advocates levying an additional $5 fee for hunting and fishing licenses to cover the funding diversion. Similarly, she said she believes in taxing drivers of large vehicles, such as trucks and sport utility vehicles, to help fund the cost of environmental, mass-transit and health-care initiatives.

“In the long run, that $5 is going to go a long way,” Grishen said. “$5 is not an awful lot for a clean environment.”

Minnesota College Republicans Chairman Jake Grassel said he is skeptical of these policies.

“Trying to take money from hunting and fishing licenses is to try to basically tax Minnesota conservationists and sportsmen,” Grassel said.

“I think that’s ridiculous,” he said. “It’s a back-door tax, and that’s only going to hurt the hunting and fishing industry of Minnesota.”

Grishen said she is especially concerned about the increasing cost of education.

“Your tuition is jumping like crazy,” she said.

She said she supports the recent proposal to split the cost of funding in a 50-50 partnership with the state.

She said she would get the public to take a poll on whether the state should raise taxes to support higher education.

“I want to walk into Legislature – if I’m elected – and say, ‘This is what the people say, so let’s sit down and do business,’ ” Grishen said.

If she is elected, she said her priority goal is to provide one year of free tuition at any higher-education institution for every student achieving a 4.0 grade point average in high school.

Grassel said he thinks this is a noble but flawed idea.

“Students who, for conditions outside of themselves, are unable to achieve the 4.0 grade average, are the most in need (and) would not be helped by it,” he said.

Grishen said she is optimistic she can get things done and stresses the importance of integrity.

“If I say something, you can take it to the bank,” she said. “If I say I’m going to do something, by God I’m going to do it, come hell or high water.”

This is an attitude that her doctoral co-adviser, professor Ernest Davenport, said he is familiar with.

“What she tells you today would be the same thing she tells you tomorrow,” he said.

He said his overwhelming impression of Grishen is that she has a passion for education and for making sure all children receive schooling.

Originally from New York, she earned her bachelor of science degree in experimental psychology from the University of Indiana, and her master of arts in educational psychology from Ball State University. She has lived in Minnesota since 1983 and received her doctorate in cognitive psychology from the University of Minnesota in 2000. She is also a licensed psychologist.

Grishen has 13 years of experience teaching in public schools and is employed as a math teacher at the Hans Christian Anderson Open School in Minneapolis.

Outside of politics, Grishen’s passion is music. She is a jazz enthusiast and plays the saxophone, clarinet, drums and guitar. In addition, she writes and rearranges songs, and plays in several music groups that do volunteer performances at churches, she said.