For Marjorie “Marje” Holmstrom-Sabo, who announced her candidacy for the Demoratic nomination in the 8th Congressional District Monday, politics had long been a passion — though not a tangible goal, at least not for years down the road.
The presidency of Donald Trump changed all that.
“Politics, I assumed, would be further down the road for me — when my kids were in college, when I had time to move home and have a retirement job in a smaller local scale,” Holmstrom-Sabo said during a phone interview Tuesday, Oct. 9. “But, in the last three years, it’s become apparent to me that I can’t stand by anymore.
“I don’t like what politics is right now. We have a government that doesn’t works for its people. It works for big business, big banks, big money, and not the people who make up our country. At some point, I feel I have to step up now otherwise I won’t leave a future for my children like the future that was left to me by my parents.”
Holmstrom-Sabo billed her candidacy as a throw-back to a Democratic party that represented rural areas just as much as urban and which featured a robust following among working-class voters.
“I’m a regular person who wants to represent regular people,” said Holmstrom-Sabo, who pointed to her diverse employment past as something to draw on as she looks to strengthen traditional sectors and diversify the region’s economic offerings.
“Small towns matter and the people who populate small towns matter,” she added. “A lot of America lives in small towns. I think for a very long time the national Democratic party has focused on cities and large metropolitan areas as their voter base and neglected the working class folks who started the labor movement, who started this idea that if we work together we all benefit.”
In addition, Holmstrom-Sabo said her platform revolves around putting people first, particularly working-class families in terms of promoting higher wages, employment protections, union labor and union organizations.
She also pointed to pushing affordable and accessible health care in the face of insurance consolidation, hospital closures and skyrocketing prescription costs. Rural broadband and the interconnected issue of boosting rural education serves as a third main pillar, she said.
The daughter of a miner, Holmstrom-Sabo, 45, was born in Hibbing in 1974 and graduated from Nashwauk-Keewatin High School in 1992 and is the second oldest of five children in a family of Finnish origin. Currently, she lives and works as an operations manager in the Twin Cities, Holmstrom-Sabo noted, though she retains strong ties to her childhood home and plans to establish a homestead in the 8th District shortly.
Holmstrom-Sabo is married and is also the mother of two teenagers.
Noting she received financial support from federal grants, scholarships and a summer job at Minntac, Monday’s news release announcing her candidacy reported Holmstrom-Sabo studied chemical engineering at Michigan Technological University and went on to earn a bachelor's degree in scientific and technical communication from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities in 1997.
She said her career has spanned industries, including software engineering, web development, education, mortgage servicing, online retail servicing, self-employment and operations management.
Holmstrom-Sabo enters the field as the second candidate for the Democratic nomination in the 8th Congressional District after Baxter-based diabetes advocate Quinn Nystrom launched her campaign Thursday, Oct. 3.
Holmstrom-Sabo spoke critically of incumbent Congressman Pete Stauber’s tenure on Capitol Hill, taking aim at the former police officer’s emphasis on law and order while remaining staunchly supportive of Trump amid numerous allegations of legal, constitutional and personal impropriety by the nation’s 45th chief executive.
“I find it hard to believe a former law enforcement officer is willing to look the other way in a president that’s undergoing investigations for a lot of reasons,” she said. “If you swore to uphold the law, you should hold the people you support to the same standard.”
Update: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated Holmstrom-Sabo was born in 1977. It has been corrected to show she was born in 1974. The Dispatch regrets this error.