GOODHUE — Roger Kittelson pledges to put agricultural know-how and other life experiences to work for Minnesota Senate District 21 residents.

The rural Goodhue resident announced his candidacy Monday. Describing himself as an Independent Democrat, he said he has spoken with both parties about his candidacy and goals. Those include legislation to take financial and administrative control of health care funding by introducing a Minnesota Health Care Cooperative.

“This cooperative would be owned and operated by Minnesota residents, just like an agriculture cooperative, credit union or public school,” he said. “Every Minnesota resident would be included, every Minnesota resident would fund it, and every Minnesota resident would benefit, without the profit motives of business interests outside of the cooperative and interference between a patient and doctor.”

The father of four children and grandfather of three said he’s seen and heard what happens when a doctor wants to prescribe a certain medication -- to treat asthma, example -- yet doesn’t go with what might be considered a best option for a patient because the doctor must contact the insurance company for permission.

“They don’t want to waste the time because they know the insurance company will say no,” he said.

Kittelson said he intends to focus on education and transportation in addition to health care because collectively they are the most expensive parts of state and county budgets.

Kittelson said his professional and personal backgrounds are well suited for representing Senate District 21. He grew up on his family's small dairy farm and lives there today.

A Goodhue graduate, he earned a double-major in agricultural economics and political science at the University of Minnesota and later a Master’s of Science Degree in technical communications with emphasis in economics and statistics. During his tenure at the U of M, he served three internships — two at the Minnesota Capitol and one in Washington, D.C.

He spent 35 years in agriculture business: 24 years as a dairy food and feed sales manager, nine years with the USDA-Dairy Division, and two years in rural banking.

Currently, he is a substitute teacher and school bus driver for Goodhue and Zumbrota-Mazeppa schools.

District 21 includes all of Wabasha County, Goodhue County except Warsaw and Stanton townships, Winona County townships of St. Charles, Elba, Whitewater, Mount Vernon, Norton, and Rollingstone, plus Concord Township in Dodge County.

Mike Goggin, a Republican from Red Wing, holds the seat.