Northfield First United Church of Christ (UCC) Rev. Todd Lippert announced his candidacy for the Minnesota House of Representatives on March 21st, with the intention of getting the Democratic-Farmer-Labor (DFL) Party endorsement on May 22.“I’m running because I want to cast a vision of the common good and bring people together around the vision of the common good,” said Rev. Lippert. “I think we need a state where everyone is thriving, where everyone has enough, where everyone has the opportunity that they need and I think so many of our policies are benefitting a few men and that we aren’t seeing ourselves as we’re in this together. We need to focus on policies that serve everyone and solutions that serve everyone, and that’s what’s been driving me into the public arena.”
Rev. Lippert, who aligns himself politically with the Democratic Party, has been a senior pastor at the First United Church of Christ for seven years, and this is his first foray into politics. He is running for a seat in District 20B, which encompasses the towns of Northfield, Montgomery, Lonsdale and several townships in Rice and Le Sueur counties. Currently the District 20B representative is Rep. David Bly, a Democrat, who plans to step down at the end of 2018.
“This is something that I have been thinking of for many years as a possibility, and I have been having some intentional conversations the last couple years about possibly running for office,” said Rev. Lippert. “So when I found out that David Bly was retiring, we felt like this was the right time for me to run.”Rev. Lippert has a particularly strong focus on coming together as a community and being accepting of immigrants. “In the time I’ve been in Northfield, I’ve advocated with and for members of the immigrant community, especially on driver licenses issues. The last couple years in particular have been very disheartening, as the political rhetoric and many leaders have been encouraging us to turn on our neighbors rather than turning towards them and accepting them as a part of the community,” Rev. Lippert said.
The three primary issues in Rev. Lippert’s platform are making healthcare affordable to everyone, ensuring the safety and funding of schools, and responding to climate change by building the clean energy economy, he said. He is also concerned about the increasingly growing concentration of wealth, referencing that the Bible teaches against power lying in the hands of fewer and fewer people.Rev. Lippert is familiar with these kinds of agricultural communities, having been raised in a small town in Iowa and serving rural parishes for fifteen years, his website states.
On April 2, Rev. Lippert hosted a campaign kickoff event at Imminent Brewing, featuring food, speakers, live music, in order to bring awareness to his campaign and to speak about why he was running for Minnesota House. “I think the campaign is a marathon,” said Rev. Lippert. “It will be important to do the steady work, introducing myself to voters, hearing their concerns, and pulling people together.”
“We need people who uphold our values of racial, economic, and environmental justice on the inside working for change,” said College Chaplain Carolyn Fure-Slocum. “I think Todd is a really strong candidate-he would clearly articulate those values in the legislature and work hard for everyone, of all backgrounds and identities, in this district.” Outside her role as college chaplain, Fure-Slocum assists Rev. Lippert’s campaign as Volunteer Coordinator. She also adds about Rev. Lippert “he has many informal connections to faculty, staff, and students here.
Because of Todd’s involvement also with Isaiah, a faith-based community organization working on racial and economic justice, and other community groups, Todd also has connections to many other people on campus.”Grant Ackerman ’19, president of Carleton Democrats (CarlDems), supports Rev. Lippert’s campaign. However, he noted that “CarlDems as an organization refrains from endorsing particular candidates until they receive a DFL endorsement. CarlDems as a group is planning to support whichever candidate wins the DFL nomination during the May 22nd convention.
As soon as candidates begin to be endorsed by the DFL, we will begin door-knocking and phone-banking in earnest to work towards getting Democrats elected around Northfield and the rest of the state.”Speaking about his faith background and how it would help his candidacy, Rev. Lippert said: “I think leaders of faith have a lot to offer right now, as people who are deeply rooted in values that are concerned about justice for everyone, making sure that especially those who are most vulnerable, that their needs are being met. Those are values that I would be bringing to the legislature.”Looking ahead, Rev. Lippert faces the DFL convention in May, and providing he procures the DFL nomination, the larger election later this year in November.