Hendrickson: ‘I’m a policy maker’

Chuck Hendrickson, a seven-year veteran of the Moorhead City Council, is challenging the endorsed Democratic-DFL candidate to run for the Minnesota House seat in District 4A. Photo/Nancy Hanson,

Nancy Edmonds Hanson

The COVID-19 crisis has thwarted Chuck Hendrickson’s favorite part of campaigning.

“I’m like a door-knocking fool,” the lifelong DFLer confesses. “When I was running for the city council in 2013 and 2017, I loved going door to door. Getting to know people and networking was the best part. But we checked the CDC guidelines and talked to other experts around the state, and none of them recommend it.”

So Chuck and his family are running this campaign from home. The two-term city council member is challenging endorsed District 4A Democratic-DFL candidate Heather Keeler in the Aug. 11 state primary for the chance to run for Moorhead’s seat in the Minnesota House of Representatives – the role unexpectedly vacated by four-term Rep. Ben Lien.

“I’m definitely running as an underdog,” he concedes. “But there are a lot of moderate Democrats in Moorhead, and I think they should have a choice.” His unendorsed status denies him access to the official DFL phone list – a critical tool in this virtual campaign. But Chuck’s contacts are vast, and with the help of his tech-savvy family and supporters, he’s reaching out via social media, direct mail and that ever-critical telephone to build momentum for his candidacy.

Chuck is happy to be labeled a moderate. “I’m not an activist. I’m a policy maker,” he says. “After seven years on the city council, I have lots of experience dealing with the legislative process and lawmakers, and I understand how St. Paul works.”

That experience includes intensive lobbying for state funding for the 20/21st Street underpass as well as a still-hoped-for counterpart under the tracks on 11th Street. He helped work toward permanent funding for the Border City Enterprise Zone, which narrows the tax gap for Moorhead-based businesses. He helped establish single-sort recycling as a member of the Solid Waste Advisory Committee and has been a strong advocate for the planned Clay County Transfer Station to replace the outdated, aging 45-year-old structure on Highway 10: “Garbage isn’t glamorous,” he notes, “but we finally got funding into the 2020 bonding bill after six years of lobbying. My biggest qualification, I think, is understanding the politics down there – both Democrat-Republican and metro versus outstate interests.”

The 1994 Concordia College graduate inherited his affinity for DFL politics from his mother Claire, who chaired the Roseau County DFL Party for a decade, and his father Gary, who served Warroad as mayor for 10 more. But when Lien announced he wouldn’t run for a fifth term, Chuck initially turned away supporters who urged him to run for the state office. “My two oldest kids, Hannah and Marty, were the ones who convinced me,” he says. “They said, ‘Dad, if you don’t do it now, you’ll never do it. You’ve done a lot for the city of Moorhead, and here’s a way to do more.’”

Since their marriage in 1995, the Hendricksons lived for a time in Rochester, Minnesota, and Nashville. They returned to Moorhead permanently in 2003. Since then Chuck has been employed as a technical writer by several high-tech firms. He currently works at Aldevron in Fargo, a biotechnology company producing plasmid DNA used for medical research, clinical and diagnostic applications.

Many Moorheaders may recognize Chuck best of all as a vocalist. Singing has been a passion throughout his life; during the family’s Nashville days, he spent nights singing and playing his acoustic guitar in clubs around Music City. Today he often blends his strong tenor with son Marty’s baritone in stirring performances featured in Trinity Lutheran Church’s worship services. “Since they have gone online,” he says modestly, “they have a lot of time to fill.”

But the sound of his own voice comes in second, in the candidate’s book, to a greater gift — his ability to listen. “I listen well. That’s how I learn,” he says.

“My parents taught me two things. Dad always said, ‘The best way to serve your community is through public service.’ Mom said, ‘Treat everybody equally and, most of all, be nice.’ I try hard to live by their advice every day.”

More information on Chuck’s issues, priorities and endorsements can be found on his Facebook page and website, hendricksonforhouse.com.

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