Candidates in District 57B offer contrast: Jeff Wilfahrt
Jeff Wilfahrt says he makes decisions based on data
Jeff Wilfahrt, the DFL candidate in House District 57B, came to the race through a very personal reason.
The much-publicized story of his U.S. Army soldier son’s death in Afghanistan in February 2011 put Jeff and his wife, Lori, into the spotlight when they felt it was important to tell his story as the Legislature considered a constitutional amendment ballot measure to define marriage as between one man and one woman.
Jeff testified against the measure and told lawmakers about his son Andrew, who was gay.
“I took that as an affront to my son,” Wilfahrt said of the amendment, which will be before voters in November.
He said the state constitution should be about expanding rights, not inhibiting them.
Through his involvement in the amendment debate, Wilfahrt said he was asked by many people to run for the state House, including DFL state party Chairman Ken Martin of Eagan.
“I didn’t go looking for this,” the retired 3M scientist said of his entry into politics.
Although he has strong feelings about the proposed constitutional amendment, Wilfahrt says there are many other issues with which he is concerned.
Wilfahrt describes himself as someone who is tight with money and has voted for both Republicans and Democrats in the past.
“I make my decisions based on data,” Wilfahrt said. “I let the information lead us in the right way.”
That approach has led him to support state bonding bills because the jobs they create increase demand for other goods and services.
He said his father owned a hardware store and that the business didn’t thrive because of tax breaks.
The state needs to invest more in living-wage job creation and invest in secondary and higher education to bolster the workforce, Wilfahrt said. He sees equality as an overriding issue in reference to access to education, tax policy and economic opportunity
“I believe in Minnesota,” he said. “It is a state with a long history in progressive politics. … It is not about one of us, it is a matter of all of us.”
He concedes that his district is not favorable to Republicans, but he says he is a candidate who can attract a wide range of voters.
“I like to think that I am a reasonable man,” Wilfahrt said. “I am a common man, not well polished.”
The Wilfahrts, who met while attending high school in New Ulm, have lived in Rosemount for the past 28 years. Their three children graduated from Rosemount High School.
They have a daughter and son, who attend graduate school at Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y., and the University of North Carolina, respectively.
Wilfahrt, who worked for 3M for 15 years before accepting a buyout when he was 39, has been largely self-employed since 1992, working as a contractor in software engineering.
He earned a degree in chemistry from the University of Minnesota at Morris.
More information about his campaign is at www.wilfarht.org.
Tad Johnson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or facebook.com/sunthisweek.