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Democrats choose Sarvi to face Kline in District 2

The race for the Second District U.S. House seat will have have a distinctly military flavor this time around.

On Saturday Minnesota Democrats chose Watertown resident Steve Sarvi to face incumbent John Kline in the November election. Kline is a retired Marine Colonel. Sarvi is an Army National Guard Sergeant who recently completed a tour in Iraq.

Sarvi has worked in local government since 1994. He was an administrator/clerk in Lanesboro and has worked as city administrator in Watertown. He currently is the city administrator in Victoria.

Sarvi was elected mayor of Watertown in 2000 and re-elected in 2002 and 2004.

Public service runs in Sarvi's family. His father was a Marine officer and his mother taught him from early on to give back.

"I think I first really got the bug when I was in Lanesboro as a city administrator and I sat back and I learned so much from being there," Sarvi said. "I got a sense of what it takes to make a town like that go well.

"The (cities) that do well, people are involved and they're engaged. They don't always work on the same things, but they all put their shoulders to the wheel."

Sarvi was overseas when he decided to run for national office. In Iraq he served first as battalion commander of an infantry platoon that patrolled a supply route from Kuwait, then as civil affairs officer for a battalion commander. He said what he saw in Iraq made him realize he was dissatisfied with the way things were being handled at home.

"(Iraqis) feel we're occupying their country," he said. "They're thankful we came and helped get rid of Saddam Hussein, but they see us as occupiers."

"We're not paying for this war. We're racking up huge debt that's going to go on the backs of our children and grandchildren."

Sarvi said he'd also like to see wider access to health care and an overhaul of national No Child Left Behind legislation, which he says puts requirements on local school districts without providing the funding districts need to meet demands.

"When I came back from Iraq I was very concerned with the direction our country was going," he said. "(Running for office) just seemed like it was going to be a good fit for me because of my background in local government and the military."

Sarvi was confident going into last Saturday's Democratic convention that he would be the choice to face Kline, but he said the moment it became official was still special.

"It's always good to get it behind you," he said. "It's one of those gates you have to pass through on the way to November. It was especially nice because my family was there."

Now that he has the nomination in hand, Sarvi is focused on November. He plans to get out and meet as many people as he can between now and election day.

So far, he said, people have been receptive.

"It's been great," he said. "The listening tours were wonderful. I think a lot of people were disappointed that they don't have the kind of contact with their Congressman the way they think they should. I think the people in this district, like in all districts, like to look their elected leaders in the eye."