Wills, Packard to run in House District 57B

Candidates were endorsed by party members

Denise Packard
Denise Packard
Anna Wills
Anna Wills

The race in House District 57B is set.

Rep. Anna Wills, R-Apple Valley, was endorsed by acclamation Saturday at the District 57 GOP Convention, while registered nurse Denise Packard, of Rosemount, earned unanimous endorsement from DFLers.

Wills, a legislative assistant in the 2012 session for state Sen. Michelle Benson, R-Ham Lake, was elected to her first term at age 28 in 2012 defeating Jeff Wilfahrt, a retired 3M engineer, with 53 percent of the vote in a district that includes Rosemount, Coates and a north portion of Apple Valley.

“I’m so grateful to have the enthusiastic support of the delegates, and I’m looking forward to earning the continued support of the voters for the Nov. 4 election,” Wills said in a press release.

Packard, 57, a self-described “soccer grandma,” is a case manager and serves as quality lead at Medica Health Plans in Minnetonka.

She said in a press release that she views the chance at serving in the Minnesota House as a way to give back.

“I can truly represent the demographic of this area,” Packard said. “I have lived here a long time, and I understand the concerns of the residents, from young families to retired empty-nesters. I have experienced each one of those phases and I look forward to working for the well-being of all our residents.”

Packard was widowed when her husband, Jeff, died in 2005 from a terminal illness.

A practicing registered nurse for more than 20 years, she said her education and experience will bring a wealth of knowledge and fresh ideas to the House.

She holds a degree in theology/pastoral ministry from the College of St. Catherine and an associate nursing degree from Century College.

Packard has been a nurse educator, worked on the medical and surgical floor at Regions Hospital and was employed by Health Partners HomeCare and Hospice.

She has taught faith formation and confirmation classes at St. Joseph’s Community Catholic Church and participated in numerous school and sport activities in Rosemount.

Packard’s parents are World War II veterans, and their son died while serving in Vietnam.

Packard’s oldest son, Erik, enlisted in the military and was deployed twice to Iraq.

Wills serves on the Education Finance, Education Policy, Legacy, and State Government Finance and Veteran Affairs committees.

“I’m truly humbled to have been able to serve in the Minnesota House and get to know so many of the great residents in our community over the past two years,” Wills said. “It’s been such an honor to work on their behalf, and I know there’s still more I can do in service to our community and to help make Minnesota a better place to live, work and raise a family.”

Wills is a lifelong Minnesotan who has several years of work experience in the restaurant industry and private in-home care services.

The Apple Valley resident since 2010 has been a campaign volunteer for local Republicans and served as city chair of the Burnsville campaign for John McCain’s 2008 presidential bid.

Wills lived much of her teen years in Burnsville, where she was home-schooled and then took classes at Northwestern College in Roseville through the post-secondary education program.

She and her husband, Rob, live in Apple Valley and are members of Bethlehem Baptist Church, where they both volunteer in the preschool Sunday school class.