Apple Valley DFLer to challenge Rep. Tara Mack
The DFL candidate for the House District 57A seat is already a familiar face to many in Apple Valley.
Bruce Folken has served as chairman of Apple Valley’s Beyond the Yellow Ribbon — a group which seeks to assist military service members, veterans and their families — since it was launched in 2012.
Though he remains active in Beyond the Yellow Ribbon, he recently stepped down as chairman in order to focus on his campaign for elected office.
Folken will challenge third-term state Rep. Tara Mack, R-Apple Valley, in the November election for the 57A seat. The House district includes most of Apple Valley and the northeastern corner of Lakeville.
It will be Folken’s first bid for elected office, though he previously served on the Dakota County Human Services Advisory Board, an appointed position he held from 2010-13.
Folken said running for office wasn’t an option until he retired from his sales position with the greeting card company American Greetings, where he worked since 1976.
“In the back of my mind I’d always thought about getting into politics,” he said. “I retired in 2009, but when I was working, I worked a lot and I traveled a lot.”
Among the issues he plans to focus on during his campaign, the self-described “fiscal conservative” said funding for education and mental health treatment would be priorities.
“I have a brother who suffers from bipolar disorder, and I’ve learned an awful lot in the past year,” Folken said. “We need to allocate resources for mental health — the trickle-down costs of treating mental illness when, for example, it gets to jails and prisons, is much too expensive.”
Folken describes himself as an “open-minded” candidate who has good friends on both sides of the political aisle.
“I have a lot of friends who vote Republican — we agree on some issues and disagree on others,” he said. “In fact, my first campaign contribution was from friends who attended the Tea Party rally in Washington.”
An Austin, Minn., native, Folken worked at the Hormel meat-packing plant during his college years to cover his tuition costs. He served in the Minnesota National Guard from 1971 to 1977, and was a marketing instructor at the Red Wing Area Vocational Institute in the mid-1970s before taking a position with American Greetings.
His community involvement includes membership in the Apple Valley Rotary, and he served as a volunteer at the Minnesota Zoo in 2011.
Folken lives in Apple Valley with his wife, Debra; they have two adult sons and two grandchildren.