Two candidates will vie to replace Lenczewski

Originally published in the Sun Current
by Mike Hanks

The mid-term retirement of a longtime Bloomington legislator didn’t result in a mad scramble to replace her, but two candidates have filed to replace Ann Lenczewski.

The election to fill Lenczewski’s vacated Minnesota House District 50B seat will be held Feb. 9. Chad Anderson will represent the Republican Party, while Andrew Carlson will represent the Democratic–Farmer–Labor Party.

Anderson, 36, is not a stranger to the political process, particularly in seeking a seat in St. Paul. He has never run for election, but he has worked on his father-in-law’s campaigns. His father-in-law is Dan Hall, a state senator from Burnsville who was first elected in 2010 for a senate district that included a portion of Bloomington.

Anderson has contemplated seeking state office himself since Hall’s first campaign in 2010. With Lenczewski’s resignation opening up a house seat mid-term, Anderson deemed it the right time to organize a campaign, he explained.

He’s a longtime Bloomington resident who graduated from Bloomington Kennedy High School and has lived much of his professional life in Bloomington. He works as a realtor and has an office is in Bloomington.

If elected, Anderson deemed the state’s budget surplus as an important issue for the 2016 legislative session. He thinks the surplus should either be refunded to taxpayers or used for funding of a project that’s not in the state’s immediate plans, such as a transportation project. “Something that we need right now,” he said.

His interest in funding for transportation is akin to his opponent. Carlson said funding of the state’s transportation bill, including the planned redesign of the interchange at interstates 35W and 494, would be one of his top priorities for 2016. He also said it will be important for Bloomington’s state representatives to secure additional funding for the proposed renovation of Mall of America’s transit station. It’s the highest volume station in the system, and there’s a $25 million funding shortfall for the project, he explained.

Carlson, 40, won re-election to his Bloomington City Council District 2 seat last month. He has long had an interest in politics and said the House District 50B seat appeals to him because he’ll be able to continue serving Bloomington constituents while working at the state level.

Bloomington is served by three state representatives and two state senators, but the District 50B seat is the only position with boundaries entirely within Bloomington.

Carlson is a project manager who has lived in Bloomington for nine years. He won his first election to the Bloomington City Council in 2013.

Lenczewski, a Democrat, has held a seat in the state house since 1999. But the relinquishing of her seat didn’t draw a plethora of interested candidates to the race.

Prior to the Dec. 14 filing deadline to replace Lenczewski, the political parties held endorsing conventions. Anderson was one of two candidates vying for the Republican endorsement while Carlson was unopposed in his quest for the DFL endorsement.

Lenczewski announced her retirement last month, and Anderson thinks the short window of time for candidates to organize and plan a campaign may have dissuaded some residents from seeking her seat. With the election scheduled Feb. 9, there’s not a lot of time to strategize, and he is making it a daily priority to meet voters. “The sense of urgency is higher,” he said.

Carlson’s city council campaign included a primary election prior to November’s general election. Having just completed a campaign didn’t discourage him from initiating another. “I enjoy campaigning,” he said. “It makes you a better policymaker.”