New Senate district leadership to form in 57
People in Rosemount, Apple Valley, Lakeville and Coates to gather March 17
by Tad Johnson
The new Senate District 57 will get its official start Saturday, March 17, when local Republicans and DFLers will meet for their conventions.
Conventions are planned at Eastview High School for the Republicans and at Rosemount Middle School for the Democrats (registration starts at 8:30 a.m.).
There will be plenty of familiar faces when the Basic Political Organizing Units are formed as leaders and delegates are elected and candidates are endorsed. But there will be some new people at the table, too.
For those in the old Senate District 37, which covered all of Rosemount, Apple Valley and a portion of Burnsville, the new Senate District 57 drops Burnsville, adds a portion of Lakeville and all of Coates.
The changes haven’t created the kind of buzz that other redraw lines have caused, such as in Lakeville where a vacancy was created and other districts in the state that are now home to two sitting legislators.
“I am glad that Apple Valley and Rosemount were not negatively impacted by redistricting,” state Rep. Kurt Bills, R-Rosemount, said. “The communities have stayed together in senate district configuration and this will mean only minor adaptations for citizens to make at the House level.”
One of those adaptations will be adding a portion of Lakeville and Coates that generally have the same socioeconomic composition of the rest of the district.
Senate District 37 has largely leaned Republican in recent years with the exception of DFLers Shelley Madore (2007-09) and Phil Sterner (2008-10) being elected.
Those two DFLers were defeated by current sitting Republican House members Bills in the old 37B and Tara Mack in the old 37A.
Sen. Chris Gerlach, R-Apple Valley, has been the area’s senator for the past eight years and served as a representative for four years prior to that.
Former state Rep. Dennis Ozment, R-Rosemount, served in the House from 1985-2008.
Bills is expected to be challenged by DFLer Jeff Wilfahrt, the father of a 31-year-old Rosemount High School graduate who died on Feb. 27 while serving in the U.S. military in Afghanistan.
Jeff Wilfahrt has been an outspoken advocate for gay rights since his son, Spc. Andrew Wilfahrt, died.
Wilfahrt describes himself as “fiscally conservative and socially progressive.”
His said his top priorities include job creation, quality education, and responsible budgeting.
Wilfahrt, a former 3M software engineer, is self-employed and lives in Rosemount with his wife, Lori.
Bills, a Rosemount High School teacher and former Rosemount City Council member, said people are still concerned about the economy, employment and education.
Mack is expected to be challenged by Roberta Gibbons, a director of the 2nd District’s DFL Party organization.
Mike Germain, who has run against Gerlach previously, is seeking the DFL endorsement in the new Senate District 57.
Tad Johnson is at email@example.com.