A new challenger for Sparks: Hayfield carpenter running for state Senate

Published 1:01 pm Sunday, May 29, 2016

For Republican Gene Dornink, his goals if elected to the Minnesota Senate are as simple as ABC: be accountable, go back to the basics, and respect the Constitution.

Dornink, 53, filed last week to run against incumbent Sen. Dan Sparks, DFL-Austin, for his District 27 state Senate seat.



“The state continues to go in the wrong direction,” he said. “They lose touch with what we do out here.”

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Dornink is a resident of Hayfield and owns Gene Dornink Carpentry LLC. In 2010, he decided to get active again in politics after being laid off from a union job.

He served as chairman of the Dodge County Republicans and also went to Tampa, Florida, as a delegate to the 2012 Republican National Convention.

For the upcoming election, he has three major issues: the bonding bill, accountability, and problems with MNsure.

The divided Legislature was unable to pass a bonding bill during its session that ended last week, and it was unable to pass a transportation bill.

The bonding bill would have funded construction projects and transportation projects across the state. This left many area roads and bridges unfunded, and it left Dornink unhappy.

“They sacrificed [the bill] and I didn’t think that was wise,” he said. “We have a lot of problems and that was a big price to pay.”

When he’s not involved in politics or working, Dornink spends most of his free time his wife, Vicky, and their 12 children and their grandchildren. They enjoy playing volleyball and partaking in various family events together.

“I’m either working or spending time with my family,” he said.