ST. PETER - St. Peter Mayor Tim Strand confirmed Wednesday that he will run in the special election for House District 19A. The election will fill the vacancy left by Rep. Terry Morrow's (DFL-St. Peter) resignation.
Strand joins three other candidates seeking the endorsement of the Democratic party.
He has been mayor of St. Peter for the last eight years and served on the St. Peter City Council for two year prior to becoming mayor. Over that entire time, he served as board member for the League of Minnesota Cities, on the Region 9 Development Commission and as president of the Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities in 2009. During this service, he received some statewide attention for sparring with former Gov. Tim Pawlenty about cuts to Local Government Aid, which is a major form of state funding for many out-state cities.
Being mayor is "the best thing I've done so far," Strand said. If he wins the House seat, he will resign as mayor. As a state representative he will continue to serve St. Peter and the surrounding areas in the district, he said.
Strand described himself as a fiscal conservative who sides with Democrats on social issues. He wants to tackle the state budget deficit, with a focus on developing a system to prevent future deficits, and on keeping pressure on a four-lane expansion of Highway 14. He said Highway 14 is particularly important so that the significant progress made under Morrow is not lost.
Strand said he will not push social issues in the race, but he would vote for a same-sex marriage bill. However, he would not put such a bill forward if he was asked to carry it in the Legislature.
"I'm a firm believer in an individual's right to chose. That extends to gay marriage. A person has a right to chose who they want to spend the rest of their life with," said Strand, "But, I only want to amend current law if it means more rights for the individual."
He said the failure of Marriage Amendment seems to indicate voters are uninterested in seeing social issues pushed at this time.
He plans to file for the 19A race on Friday. The filing period for 19A started Wednesday. None of the other announced candidates have filed yet.
Strand is the eighth candidate to enter the 19A race.
Four DFL candidates are vying for endorsement at the party's convention on Saturday, Jan. 19.
Because the Gov. Dayton announced Tuesday that the special election will be held Feb. 12 and the primary will be held Jan. 29, the date of the DFL endorsement convention prevents the DFL from being able to avoid having its candidates signed up for the primary. However, the endorsement convention is expected to render the primary moot unless a candidates decides to break with the endorsement process.
Strand feels he has a competitive edge over his fellow DFL candidates Robin Courrier, Karl Johnson and Clark Johnson. He said his advantage is name recognition and some related experience from his year serving as president of the Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities, during which he vetted the 2010 Minnesota gubernatorial candidates including Gov. Mark Dayton on behalf of the organization.
Strand said he will honor the endorsement process.
(Josh Moniz can be e-mailed at email@example.com)