APPLETON — An Appleton man who wants to work for rural economic development is seeking the Democratic endorsement to challenge State Rep. Tim Miller, R-Prinsburg, for the District 17A seat.

Benjamin Dolan, 32, is seeking the DFL endorsement in the district through electronic balloting in the coming week.

Dolan is currently serving as a law clerk in the Eighth Judicial District in Willmar as he prepares for the bar exam to practice law in Minnesota.

Dolan grew up in Appleton, and graduated from the Lac qui Parle Valley High School in 2006. He earned a bachelor’s degree in political science in 2011 from Southwest Minnesota State University, where he served as senior class president. He attended Ridgewater College in Willmar during his freshman, where he played basketball.

Dolan said he worked in blue-collar jobs including unloading trucks and concrete work after graduating from SMSU before deciding to attend law school. He graduated in 2017 from the University of South Dakota School of Law in Vermillion where he was senior class president.

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Dolan said he wants to work for economic development in the rural district, which includes parts of Kandiyohi and Renville, Chippewa and Swift counties. He said he grew up in a working-class family and understands the economic challenges that his rural neighbors face. There’s a need for affordable housing, access to affordable child care, and good-paying jobs throughout the district, he said.

" I know people that had two to three jobs," he told the West Central Tribune. "That’s how great it was,” he said in reference to the struggles many individuals face to make ends meet.

He said farmers in the district are struggling as well. In many cases, both husband and wife hold outside jobs to support the farm and meet their needs for health insurance.

Dolan also emphasized the importance of providing mental health resources in the region. He also wants to recognize all of the essential front line workers in the COVID-19 pandemic.

The candidate said he feels that Miller holds ideals that aren’t representative of what’s needed in the district now and moving forward. He said the incumbent was among the only four House members to vote against the first aid package for the pandemic, which provided much-needed support for the district, said Dolan.