Teacher Julie Sandstede enters 6A race

Julie Sandstede

Julie Sandstede

Julie Sandstede, a music teacher who lives in Hibbing and teaches in Virginia, is the first candidate to announce for the House 6A DFL nomination. The central Iron Range seat is open due to Rep. Carly Melin’s Jan. 14 announcement that she will not seek re-election.

Sandstede made her announcement in today’s Hibbing Daily Tribune.

“I take my responsibility as a citizen and a voter seriously,” Sandstede said. “I’ve heard there is a lot of interest in the seat, but I’m ready to embrace the race no matter what it brings.”

Community members, friends, colleagues and members of her church encouraged Sandstede to run for the District 6A seat after Melin announced she would not be running for re-election, she said.

“For me, there will never be a ‘perfect’ time to run. Life is constantly changing but the seat is open now,” Sandstede said. “Waiting for another time doesn’t guarantee the opportunity will exist. This is something that has really been laid on my heart so while I look to the future, I need to respond in the present.”

Sandstede said she plans to advocate for strengthening the families and communities across the district. That includes focusing on significant investments in education, job creation and retention, and healthcare, especially in the area of senior care.

“As a parent, teacher, neighbor, and union leader, these are the issues I hear about across the district,” she said.

Sandstede has taught music at Virginia High School for 19 years, where she is the Education Minnesota faculty union president. She lives in the same Hibbing home where she grew up, now with her own family including husband Evan, son Jacob, 18; daughter Grace, 11; and son Jonathon, 8. She plays in the Mesabi Symphony Orchesestra and directs the Hibbing City Band. She’s a Colvin Township volunteer firefighter and active member of her church.

“This race, this effort is not about me,” she added. “It’s about the hardworking families, displaced workers and small business owners affected by the downturn in mining, and schools in District 6A who represent the backbone of greater Minnesota.” …

“I’m not a politician,” Sandstede said. “This is my hometown, where I grew up. I’m not your typical candidate.”

Sandstede presents a compelling candidacy, a political neophyte with a wide range of connections. Her status as her local Education Minnesota president and experience with community groups could give her the knowledge and base to compete in what might become a crowded race.

Though no other candidates have announced, I’m aware that Nashwauk Mayor Ben DeNucci, Steelworker Mark Larson of Balkan Township, anti-domestic violence organizer Melissa Scaia of Chisholm, and Tom Whiteside of Hibbing, a field organizer for Congressman Rick Nolan, are actively exploring DFL candidacies. Interestingly, while many of these names have some connections to the Range DFL structure, most are relative newcomers to politics. Time will tell whether other big names — perhaps Hibbing Mayor Rick Cannata or Chisholm Mayor Mike Jugovich — decide to jump in.

For the last two cycles Republicans have nominated Roger Weber, a rural Nashwauk Township Tea Party member who cut his neighbor’s garage in half during a property dispute. Perhaps with an open seat they will seek a new candidate, but I haven’t heard of any yet.

I will continue to cover this race start to finish. Any candidate or their supporters who have news for me are welcome to let me know.


  1. Bart Sutter says

    Love the deadpan delivery of the first sentence in the second-to-last paragraph.

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