– A former state senator from Owatonna said Monday she would run for the open congressional seat in southern Minnesota.

Vicki Jensen announced her decision via news release. She becomes the first DFLer to officially enter the race for the First Congressional District seat now held by U.S. Rep. Tim Walz, who is running for governor in 2018.

“I understand the issues in our district, having served on a school board and then in the state Legislature,” Jensen said. “I understand how important it is to know what the problems are and then figure out how to roll up your sleeves, communicate with people and then find a common sense solution that can actually impact their lives, and I want to continue doing that.”

Jensen, who married into a farm family, said she hopes to work on agricultural issues and on health care — a topic she’s worked on firsthand as an insurance agent.

“With all the uncertainty and dysfunction in Congress, we need representation from someone with roots in this district who understands the issues and works hard to ensure our rural communities don’t get left behind,” she said in her announcement statement.

Jensen served one term in the state Senate before losing her seat in 2016. That experience, she said, gave her a deeper understanding.

“I learned that the fears people have are a lot bigger and a lot closer to home than I ever thought they were,” she said. “Leaders and politicians can’t sidestep those issues. ... Those issues are real, and we have to come together.”

Republican Jim Hagedorn, who lost to Walz last year, has announced plans to run again.