New Northern Minnesota lawmakers sworn in

Several new state lawmakers from the Northern Minnesota were sworn in at the Capitol in St. Paul today.

State Rep. Julie Sandstede (DFL-Hibbing)

State Rep. Julie Sandstede (DFL-Hibbing) now represents District 6A, including Hibbing, Chisholm, Floodwood, Nashwauk, Keewatin and Bigfork.

“As a lifelong Ranger, I know how important it is for us to never stop fighting for our economic vitality and our values in the region,” Rep. Sandstede said. “I care deeply about these communities and I’m committed to working with legislators from across the state to tackle these problems.”

Sandstede takes over for former State Rep. Carly Melin (DFL-Hibbing), now an Assistant St. Louis County Attorney. Melin did not seek re-election.

State Rep. Sandy Layman (R-Cohasset)

State Rep. Sandy Layman (R-Cohasset) now represents District 5B, including Grand Rapids, Bovey, Coleraine, Cohasset, Deer River and Remer.

“I’m extremely honored to represent my area at the Capitol, and be a voice for residents throughout District 5B,” said Layman. “The upcoming legislative session is a chance for us to improve our state through healthcare reform, middle class tax relief, and creating a responsible state budget. I welcome any insight or suggestions for ways to help Minnesota or my district.”

Layman defeated former State Rep. Tom Anzelc (DFL-Balsam Township) in a closely watched battleground race.

State Rep. Matt Bliss (R-Pennington)

State Rep. Matt Bliss (R-Pennington) now represents District 5A, including Bemidji and portions of Beltrami, Cass and Hubbard counties. He beat State Rep. John Persell (DFL-Bemidji) in something of an upset.

State Rep. Liz Olson (DFL-Duluth)

State Rep. Liz Olson (DFL-Duluth) now represents District 7B in West Duluth. She succeeds State Sen. Erik Simonson (DFL-Duluth) who was elected to the other chamber last November.

State Sen. Justin Eichorn (R-Grand Rapids) is the new senator in District 5, which stretches from Bemidji to just east of Grand Rapids. He beat former Sen. Tom Saxhaug (DFL-Grand Rapids) in another surprise result from the pro-Donald Trump wave in rural Minnesota.

Nevertheless, most Duluth and Iron Range lawmakers were safe in the last election, despite Trump’s success in some of their districts.

Incumbent Sens. David Tomassoni (DFL-Chisholm) and Tom Bakk (DFL-Cook) were also sworn in today, along with incumbent Reps. Jason Metsa (DFL-Virginia), Rob Ecklund (DFL-International Falls), Jennifer Schultz (DFL-Duluth).

“It is an honor and privilege to work and serve on behalf of the people of Northern Minnesota,” said Ecklund. “There is a lot of work to do and a lot of unfinished business from the last two years. But I am ready to work with anyone who shares my commitment to put the needs of Minnesotans first.”

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