ST. PAUL – State Rep. Bud Nornes said he has made a point during his 24 years in the House to make sure people from all four corners of District 8A have had his full attention.
The Fergus Falls Republican also said he has “put students first” during numerous stints chairing House higher education committees.
Now, Nornes has announced he is not seeking re-election this November. He said it is time to focus on spending more time with his own family – particularly his wife of 58 years, Joyce, and their three adult children with families of their own, including 10 grandchildren.
“It has been a difficult decision but, the more we talked about it, we agreed it is the right time to step aside,” Nornes said. “Our family is scattered all over the country, so Joyce and I are ready to gas up the RV and hit the road on our own schedule.
“I am forever grateful for the opportunity to represent the people of our region at the Capitol and cherish the relationships I have developed through my legislative work. It’s a humbling experience to serve in the House of Representatives and I cannot thank my constituents enough for the endless support they’ve shown me over the years.”
Nornes spent three decades in the radio business before being elected to the House. His first foray into the public arena was a 12-year tenure with the Fergus Falls Board of Education. He also became a local community presence serving numerous civic organizations.
Nornes first ran for the House in 1992 and ’94 and, while he was defeated both times, he trimmed the margin to fewer than 70 votes with a more robust ground game in ’94 and ultimately broke through in ’96.
“I had a lot of preconceived notions when I was first elected to the House,” Nornes said. “Arne Carlson was the governor back then and I was sure he would personally greet me and welcome me to St. Paul, which never happened. I’m still pretty disappointed about that,” Nornes deadpanned. “I also thought they must have somewhere for me to live at the Capitol, but I was wrong about that as well and ended up scrambling for a place. I had a lot of learning to do.”
In addition to his wry sense of humor, Nornes also said he has earned a reputation around the Capitol for being a “thrifty” representative.
“After all these years, I’m portable because all the furniture in my St. Paul apartment is inflatable,” he said. “I just got a new inflatable bed at Dunham’s for $50, so I’m looking forward to sleeping on that. It’s queen-sized.”
Nornes said maybe the new bed will prove handy as he and Joyce travel the country to visit family. In any case, a relaxed schedule may provide time to more fully reflect on more than two decades’ worth of House service.
“The broader, statewide issues speak for themselves, but I’m most proud of the achievements we have made in St. Paul to support our district,” Nornes said. “From enhancing the Glendalough State Park facilities, to combating high water problems in Perham, laying out the regional trail from Perham to Pelican Rapids, and constructing the Bigwoods Event Center and the new library in Fergus Falls, we’ve gotten a lot done.
“The repurposing of the former state hospital in Fergus Falls is one project that remains a work in progress. The state closed that facility in the early 1990s and, through a laborious process, we have been able to bring new development to various parts of that property. What happens with the main structure remains to be seen.”