Candidates line up for Pogemiller seat

Three candidates spoke at the U campus Tuesday.

Kevin Burbach

Eight hopefuls have registered for a chance to fill the state Senate seat that represents the University of Minnesota area.

Three of the candidates spoke Wednesday afternoon in Coffman Union at the University of Minnesota DFLâÄôs weekly meeting to field questions. Jacob Frey, Cordelia Pierson and Peter Wagenius gathered in front of about 40 students to discuss their hopes of filling Sen. Larry PogemillerâÄôs seat.

Pogemiller, who had been senator for the area since 1982, was appointed director of the Minnesota Office of Higher Education on Friday.

The filing period for the race started Monday and ended Wednesday. A primary for the seven DFL candidates will be held Dec. 6.

Frey, a northern Virginia native and an attorney at Faegre and Benson until he quit last Friday, said he has been âÄúactive in the community working on solutions.âÄù Frey and his wife organized âÄúThe Big Gay Race,âÄù a 5-kilometer run organized to oppose the 2012 constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage.

Though she filed for the election Tuesday, Pierson has already won the support of a key legislator âÄî Rep. Phyllis Kahn, DFL-Minneapolis. Pierson is a graduate of the University Law School.

Kahn said she worked with Pierson on the Legacy Amendment and that the two agree on environmental issues.

The environment is a âÄúreal missing voice in the Senate,âÄù Kahn said.

Wagenius entered the race with a legislative heritage âÄî his mother is Rep. Jean Wagenius, DFL-Minneapolis. HeâÄôs a policy aide to Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak and has worked on transportation issues like the rebuilding of the Interstate 35W Bridge.

Students at the forum quizzed the three candidates on tuition, student debt, same-sex marriage and the ongoing Vikings stadium issue. Occasionally, Kahn and Mike Griffin, who is challenging Kahn for the DFL nomination for District 59 in 2012, chimed in with their thoughts as well.

Jeremy Reichenberger, president of the UDFL, said it was incredibly important the candidates came to the meeting.

âÄúBecause theyâÄôre representing students, I think studentsâÄô voices need to be heard,âÄù he said.

While only three candidates came to the meeting âÄî which was announced on short notice âÄî five other candidates are looking to fill PogemillerâÄôs seat.

Paul Ostrow served on the Minneapolis City Council from 1998 to 2009, and Kari Dziedzic is the daughter of Walter Dziedzic, who served on the City Council for more than 20 years.

Alicia Frosch and Mohamud Noor are the two other DFL candidates.

The lone Republican candidate to file for the election for the Minneapolis Senate seat, a DFL stronghold, was Ben Schwanke. Pogemiller was re-elected to the seat in 2010 with 78 percent of the vote.

The general election for the Senate seat will be held Jan. 10.