by Jim Boyle
Paul Perovich has flown helicopters in the Army, navigated the nighttime skies of northern Iraq in an F-16 Falcon for the Air Force and taught many other Army and Air Force recruits to do the same.
After 22 years in the military and 19 years with American Airlines as a pilot of Boeing jets, the Big Lake Township man would like to pilot a seat in the Minnesota Senate.
He had thoughts of running against Sen. Dave Brown, R-Becker, but he’s been redistricted into Senate District 30, which Rep. Mary Kiffmeyer, R-Big Lake, has her eye on.
“Dave’s done nothing,” he said, adding his concerns with Kiffmeyer run even deeper, with her involvement with the American Legislative Exchange Council (A.L.E.C.) and her push for the voter ID amendment.
Perovich has won the Senate District 30 DFL endorsement. He was selected on a unanimous vote of the 62 delegates in attendance. He did not have any challengers for the DFL nod.
Those who endorsed him are quite high on him. “He’s a real formidable candidate,” said Nancy Schumacher, chairwoman of Senate District 30. “It is wonderful to have a candidate whose background is such a fit for our area that he will serve the needs of SD30 perfectly.”
Pervovich, 54, was born in St. Louis Park to Elliott and Diana Perovich in 1958. He grew up in Anoka and graduated from Anoka High School in 1976, where he was a three sport athlete and was selected to the All Metro baseball team his senior year.
He joined the Minnesota National Guard unit in Anoka the fall of his senior year and served in the military for the next 22 years. He attained the rank of lieutenant colonel in the Air Force and retired in 1997.
Before that he was hired by American Airlines in 1991, where he flew as a first officer on Boeing 757s, 767s and 777s. He flew the Boeing 727 as a captain and retired from the airline in January 2010.
He and his wife came back to Minnesota in 2004. When not coaching youth baseball and basketball in Big Lake, Perovich has been involved in pushing outdoors legislation in Minnesota.
He was the state youth director for the Minnesota BASS Federation for four years and currently serves on the DNR’s black bass advisory board, DNR’s AIS work group and is on the board of directors for the Minnesota BASS Federation.
He says his campaign team is assembling nicely. Perovich became active in his brother, Peter Perovich’s, unsuccessful bid in 2010 against Mike Jungbauer, R-East Bethel, for Senate District 48.
The two are both running for Senate this time. Peter is the DFL endorsed candidate in Senate District 35.
Paul Perovich is seeking Senate District 30, which includes Elk River, Big Lake and Otsego in addition to Hanover, St. Michael and Albertville.
“I have seen the Legislature degrade itself,” Perovich said. “They (legislators) are not concerned with running the state anymore. They’re more concerned with transforming the state.”
If elected Perovich said he would like to get the Legislature back on track to the business of managing the budget, making the state better and protecting civil liberties.
Perovich is concerned about all the talk of constitutional amendments, including the one on voter ID.
“It’s a throwback to the Jim Crow laws,” Perovich said. “It’s (the amendment) is designed to disenfranchise an entire group of people.”
The Jim Crow laws were state and local laws in the United States enacted between 1876 and 1965, according to Wikipedia. The online encyclopedia stated Jim Crow Laws mandated racial segregation in all public facilities in southern states of the former Confederacy, with a supposedly “separate but equal” status for black Americans.
The separation led to treatment, financial support and accommodations that were usually inferior to those provided for white Americans, systematizing a number of economic, educational and social disadvantages.
Perovich takes issue with the A.L.E.C. for manufacturing much of the dialogue at the Capitol. He’s also disturbed that Kiffmeyer has served as the chair of this group in Minnesota.
The first-time office seeker considers himself an old-style Democrat, who were much closer to the center of the political spectrum.
“I’m a veteran senior military officer,” he said. “I have lived in a very conservative world and my core views have been shaped by this.”
During his military career Perovich was one of a select group to complete both Army and Air Force flight training. He flew helicopters in the Army as well as fighters in the Air Force, finishing his career flying the F-16 in which he flew multiple combat missions over northern Iraq.
Perovich attended the University of Minnesota where he received a Bachelor of Science degree in geography with a minor in aviation. While attending the university, he also flew with the 47th Aviation Battalion, worked with Big Brothers and Big Sisters and played varsity baseball. After leaving the U of M, Perovich took a position with the Minnesota Army National Guard as a flight instructor, where he stayed until 1985 when the South Dakota Air National Guard recruited him to bring his expertise in night vision goggle flying to the fighter unit in Sioux Falls.
He met his wife, Susan, while attending F-16 school at Luke Air Force Base in Glendale, Ariz. They were married and settled in Scottsdale, Ariz., where they became deeply involved with the foster parent programs and were soon a licensed foster home to a number of children.
Perovich was asked to chair the Foster Care Advisory Board and held that position for five years. His leadership as chair was instrumental in helping change Arizona law that strengthened foster parent protections and enhanced Child Protective Services capabilities, according to a press release.
His recurring education “Legal Issues in Foster Care” class quickly became a favorite of foster parents and always had a waiting list.
Perovich knows he will struggle to get 18 to 20 percent of the vote in the district for not being straight up pro-life. But he says he is in support of the 95 10 Initiative, which has aimed to reduce the number of abortions by 95 percent in a 10-year period by promoting abstinence, personal responsibility, adoptions and support for women and families who are facing unplanned pregnancy.
Perovich and his wife struggled to have children in their mid-30s, and eventually they became foster parents after getting to know some of the children in crisis nurseries. One in particular who he recalls was a 15-year-old he tutored with mathematics for a time.
“It became a Tuesday night affair,” he said.
The crisis nursery experience led him to feel quite strongly about the need for education of young men and women.
It also led the Peroviches to become foster parents. Eventually he and his wife went through a yearlong process the Arizona county required.
“It was quite a process,” Paul Pervovich said. “It was good.”
Now he and Susan, along with their children, Michael, Samantha and Nicholas, call Big Lake Township home. This summer you can expect to find them campaigning at parades and events like Game Fair 2012 where he and his brother, Peter, have a booth.