At a glance: Candidates for Southwest legislative offices

Southwest Minneapolis is represented by four state representatives and two state senators.

Senate District 61 includes the bulk of Southwest Minneapolis, running from the Bryn Mawr and Loring Park areas south to the Richfield-Minneapolis border. It is split into two House districts, with 61A covering the western half and 61B covering the eastern half. 

Senate District 62 includes the neighborhoods of Whittier, Lyndale, Kingfield and Tangletown, and it extends east across Interstate 35W. Whittier is represented by District 62A and Lyndale, Kingfield and Tangletown are represented by 62B. 

All six seats are held by DFL incumbents. 

To find your polling place, visit pollfinder.sos.state.mn.us. 

Candidates for Minnesota Senate 

District 61

Scott Dibble

DFL (incumbent, running unopposed)

Neighborhood: East Isles

Age: 47

Background: Elected to the Senate in 2002 after serving one term in the Minnesota House of Representatives. He’s the ranking member of the DFL on the Transportation Committee. Dibble is openly gay and married his partner, Richard Levya, in California, although the marriage is not recognized in Minnesota.

Top issues: Dibble said tax reform is needed in the form of a more progressive system and also wants to broaden the sales tax and possibly lower the sales tax rate. With more revenue, Dibble would like to better fund education and public infrastructure. 

Website: scottdibble.com

District 62

Jeff Hayden

DFL (incumbent) 

Neighborhood: Bryant

Age: 46

Background: Won a special election for Senate in 2011 after serving in the House for three years, where he was assistant minority leader. Hayden is a former non-profit manager. 

Top issues: Hayden said he would like to reform the tax system to increase the taxes on high-income earners while lowering property taxes. He would also like to close tax loopholes that corporations use. Hayden said Minnesota needs to act fast to set up a health care exchange to allow residents to buy health care when the national health care reform bill in implemented. He also wants to increase job training for unemployed workers. 

Website: jeffreyhayden.org

Independent 

Candidate Eric Blair did not respond to an interview request and it appears that he does not have a campaign website or Facebook page. 

Candidates for Minnesota House of Representatives 

District 61A

Frank Hornstein 

DFL

(incumbent)

Neighborhood: Linden Hills

Age: 52

Background: Hornstein was first elected in 2002 and currently serves as the DFL lead of the House Transportation Policy and Finance Committee. He previously served as a Metropolitan Council representative and worked as a community organizer. 

Top issues: Hornstein said balancing the budget with a more progressive tax system will be the top job in 2013. He favors higher taxes on the wealthy and ending corporate tax subsidies in order to fully fund schools and health care. Hornstein said he will continue to focus on transit issues, if re-elected.  

Website: frankhornstein.org

Devin GawneMark

(Republican)

Neighborhood: Linden Hills

Age: 32

Background: Independent software consultant. St. John’s University graduate. Volunteers with St. Joseph’s Home for Children, Habitat for Humanity and Minneapolis St. Patrick’s Day Association. 

Top issues: GawneMark touts freedom and personal responsibility. He opposes the marriage amendment and says the government shouldn’t give out marriage licenses. GawneMark says he would cut government spending by combining duplicative agencies and wants to cut regulations.  

Website: devingawnemarkforhouse.org

District 61B

Paul Thissen

DFL (incumbent)

Neighborhood: Lynnhurst

Age: 45

Background: Thissen was first elected in 2002. He currently serves as house minority leader. A Harvard University graduate with a law degree from the University of Chicago, Thissen ran for governor in 2010 but lost DFL endorsement to Margaret Anderson Kelliher.  

Top issues: Balancing the budget with a mix of revenue increases and spending cuts; supports better education funding, in particular early childhood funding; implementing national health care reform in Minnesota.

Website: paulthissen.com

Nate “Honey Badger” Atkins

Republican

Neighborhood: Kenny

Age: 36

Background: Atkins is a service coordinator at a material handling company. He studied architecture at the University of Minnesota. He also ran for the Minnesota House in 2010. 

Top issues: Atkins registered to run as “Honey Badger” because, like the YouTube video about the honey badger, Atkins “doesn’t give a sh**,” which is a slogan on his lawn signs. Atkins said he is referring to the fact that he isn’t beholden to corporate interests and lobbyists and wants to get rid of “crony capitalism.” Atkins opposes the marriage amendment. 

Website: 

honeybadgerforhouse.org

District 62A

Karen Clark

DFL (incumbent)

Neighborhood: Phillips

Background: First elected in 1980; longest serving openly Lesbian state legislator in the United States. Clark holds master’s degree in public administration from Harvard University’s JFK School of Government. She has worked as a public health nurse, VISTA nurse-organizer and OB-GYN nurse practitioner. 

Top issues: Clark did not respond to an interview request. 

Website: votekaren.org

Kurtis Hanna

Republican

Neighborhood: Whittier

Age: 27

Background: Server at American Burger Bar. Co-Founder and sits on board of directors of Minnesota NORML, a group trying to legalize marijuana in Minnesota. Hanna opposes the marriage amendment and has marched in the past two Twin Cities Pride parades. 

Top issues: Hanna said he is not running an issue-based campaign, instead he is promising to set up a website where residents can vote on how they want him to vote on issues. He visited Berlin, Germany a month ago and met with developers of the software. “Local constituents don’t really have a voice with their own representatives and therefore they don’t really have a voice at the state Capitol.” 

Website: kurtiswhanna.com

House District 61B

Susan Allen

DFL (incumbent)

Neighborhood: Powderhorn Park

Age: 49

Background: Won a special election for the House in January. Allen is an attorney who represents various Indian tribes. Allen is Native American and openly gay. 

Top issues: Allen said the state needs to set up a health benefits exchange. She would also like to work on foreclosure relief, and she mentioned a bill that would prevent a foreclosure when the owner has a loan modification pending. She also said she favors a more progressive tax system as well as broadening the sales tax to services. 

Website: susanallen62b.com

Tom F. Johnson III

Republican

Neighborhood: Tangletown

Age: 33

Background: Johnson is a psychiatric nurse who has lived in the neighborhood for five years. He has two children who attend Burroughs Community School. He is a graduate student. 

Top issues: Johnson says he supports personal freedom and civil liberties. He mentioned national health care reform as a threatened personal freedom and said the state should look closer at whether or not to set up a health care exchange. Johnson said the government should not license marriages and believes same-sex couples deserve the same benefits as heterosexual couples. 

Website: facebook.com/TomFJohnsonIII