District 49A: Dario Anselmo
When Republican Dario Anselmo defeated Republican-cum-DFLer Ron Erhardt in 2016, some thought Edina had lost the independent, politically moderate voice Erhardt had supplied during 22 nonconsecutive years of state House service. To the surprise of those observers, Anselmo has at times functioned in ways reminiscent of his party-defying predecessor. His independence should be rewarded with a second term.
Anselmo, 56, is a real estate investor and former owner of the Fine Line Music Cafe in downtown Minneapolis. That experience plus one other — the loss of his mother, Barbara Lund, to gun violence in 1992 — gives him a perspective many in his party lack on some of the Legislature’s sorest disputes. He agrees with DFLers that the state should take stronger steps to deter gun violence and that a gas tax increase — a “user fee,” he rightly calls it — should be part of a comprehensive transportation package in 2019. He favors abortion rights and has long been a supporter of the Southwest light-rail line.
What makes him a Republican? “I want Minnesota to be an attractive state to do business in,” Anselmo says. He sides with his party on tax and business policies. We disagree with his view that the state’s health care provider tax should be allowed to sunset on schedule at the end of 2019. But we think a bipartisan accord on health care funding is more likely if he stays in the House.
Edina’s DFL House candidate is Heather Edelson, 37, a mental health therapist and a hard-charger making her second bid for the office. She unsuccessfully challenged Erhardt for DFL endorsement in 2016. Edelson’s passion for public service draws from her experience as the daughter of a struggling single mother and as a guardian ad litem in Hennepin County. She says that Anselmo’s first term produced few results. The same can be said of the entire 2018 Legislature, which may have set a new bar for lawmaking futility. But the seniority Anselmo gained and the courage he exhibited position him to make a difference in 2019.
District 52B: Ruth Richardson
The southeast-suburban district whose House race was decided by a 121-vote margin two years ago has another tight contest this year. Republican Rep. Regina Barr, a former corporate marketing professional, was our preference in a close call in 2016. By an even narrower margin this year, we recommend the DFL challenger, attorney Ruth Richardson.
Richardson, 42, gets our nod for the depth of her knowledge about what promises to be a dominant issue in the 2019 session — health care. As an official at the Minnesota Organization on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, a member of a number of state and national advisory councils on health and disability issues and the sister of three disabled siblings, Richardson has learned a great deal about the intersection of health and public policy.
She would also bring to the Legislature the perspective of a Metro Transit bus driver’s daughter who put herself through law school while raising two children as a single mother, and of a former deputy director of human rights in the city of St. Paul. If elected, she would join just one other African-American in the House, a body that ought to better reflect Minnesota’s changing demographics.
That said, Barr, 53, has been a conscientious representative in her first term. She’s been keen to enlist state resources for local needs, and succeeded this year in getting funding for a crisis intervention training center for law enforcement in her district. District 52B has two able candidates from which to choose.
District 54A: Keith Franke
Former St. Paul Park Mayor Keith Franke doesn’t like the partisan parliamentary game-playing he witnessed during his first term in the House. With more seniority in a second term representing the southeast-metro district, he wants to try to reduce it. The Editorial Board believes he should get that chance.
Franke, 48, describes himself as a Republican “guy in the middle, trying to get the work done.” As the owner of the Park Cafe and Franke’s Corner Bar, he wants government to work well for small businesses and their regular-folks customers. He bucked his party to support a bill requiring background checks for all gun buyers. He shepherded into law a bill ordering the creation of a strategic plan for eliminating HIV/AIDS in Minnesota. He’s keen to keep working with colleagues in both parties on measures to crack down on distracted driving.
Challenging Franke is DFLer Anne Claflin, 35, a research scientist at the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency who is eager to promote clean energy and prepare Minnesota for climate change. She’s president of her public employees’ union, where she helped secure a new paid parental leave policy for state employees. She’s a soft-spoken but promising newcomer whose name we hope to see on future ballots.
District 57A: Robert Bierman
The Apple Valley seat in the Minnesota House became vacant unexpectedly in early June when state Rep. Erin Maye Quade opted to run for lieutenant governor with DFL gubernatorial endorsee Erin Murphy. A five-way DFL primary for the House seat ensued that produced a worthy successor, business owner Robert Bierman. While he and Republican Matt Lundin are both making their first bids for elective office, Bierman is better prepared.
Bierman, 58, would bring welcome small-business perspective to the House DFL caucus. His family founded Bierman’s Home Furnishings in Northfield 124 years ago; he has run the operation for 25 years and is a past president of both his local Chamber of Commerce and Rotary Club. He and his wife chose to live in Apple Valley 23 years ago because of the quality of its public schools, he says.
His attention to education policy is evident as he discusses teacher licensure (he wants to safeguard quality), early childhood education (he wants more progress toward universal preschool) and higher education financing (he seeks creative ways to ease student debt). He’s also well-schooled in health and tax policy.
Lundin, 32, also cares about education; he’s the son of a college professor and an elementary schoolteacher. He returned to his hometown after a career in professional hockey; he’s now a Realtor after several years as a high school assistant hockey coach. He’s commendably eager to serve the public and to ease partisan tensions at the Legislature. But he would face a steeper learning curve in the state House.