Hinnenkamp by Albert Lea approved for 23A
DFL party delegates from across the newly formed Senate District 23 selected their Senate and House District nominees to endorse Sunday at the Union Center in Albert Lea.
Austin attorney Brandon Lawhead has been endorsed as the DFL party’s candidate for Senate District 23. Albert Lea’s former teacher Mary Hinnenkamp was party-endorsed for House District 23A, and for House District 23B, former Austin Mayor Tom Stiehm. All candidates were unopposed.
Lawhead, who grew up in Austin and had Lawhead law firms for about 25 years, said he felt a call to service after the events at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021. He has also worked with many people, including unionized workers, small business owners and others over the years, and felt he could contribute as a “centrist” candidate.
“The polar extremes all speak, and there’s no one in the middle who represents everyone in the middle,” Lawhead said.
Speaking about former U.S. Senator Paul Wellstone, who he said always fought for the underdog, Lawhead said he would try to be a candidate who could see the big picture and work from the other side. from the driveway.
“It’s something from the grassroots of the campaign that I want to run,” Lawhead said. “I don’t want to go into slander or negativity on either side.
“Just because they’re Republicans doesn’t mean they’re a bad person,” he said.
He also spoke of the need to recognize why some party members may vote elsewhere and what can be done to bring them back.
He and his wife, Jennifer, Director of Community Education for Austin Public Schools, have three children, ranging in age from high school through college.
“One thing we can do is give everyone an education,” he said.
Hinnenkamp said she learned the value of hard work and collaboration as a child by picking up rocks in the field with her siblings. His family had a dairy farm in central Minnesota.
She said she graduated from St. Cloud State College in teaching English and served with her husband with Volunteers in Service to America in western Kentucky. They have also worked as counselors in group homes in the Bronx, New York, suburban Chicago and Washington, DC.
They moved to Albert Lea after the birth of their twins, where her husband started working in legal services and she started working at the Area Learning Center, a place for students at risk of not graduating or getting their late graduation. They also have an adopted daughter.
She said that during her time at ALC, they helped graduate nearly 750 students who might not otherwise have been able to.
Terry Gjersvik said Hinnenkamp was his former boss at the Area Learning Center. He describes her as a “master negotiator” with these students, who knew how to get them to a degree and had the respect of students and staff.
Hinnenkamp said education has been her life and she supports bills currently supported by Democrats in the House, including increased state investment in early childhood education, education K-12 and special education funding.
“It’s the teachers who do more with less,” she said.
She supports a proposal in the House to provide graduates with free community college for a year, which she says would not only help the students, but the community as well.
She said she also supports working family issues and cares about the environment.
She noted that some might think she and her opponent, Republican Rep. Peggy Bennett, have a lot in common — they’re both retired teachers who were Teachers of the Year — they come from parties with many philosophical differences.
Hinnenkamp said she would encourage kindness and caring in people if elected.
Stiehm, who served as mayor of Austin for 14 years and spent 30 years in law enforcement, said he decided to run for office because he was upset with the direction the country’s democracy.
“My family bled and died for our country,” he said. “I know what a patriot looks like. The only patriots I saw on January 6 were those wearing blue.
He said he led Austin through turbulent times and helped the city not just survive but thrive.
“We did that by giving everyone a voice, whether I agreed with them or not,” he said.
He spoke about the importance of including all people in the process and said people deserved to be represented by someone with no hidden agenda.
“Our government is designed to work best by compromise,” he said. “I get angry when I hear politicians say that they can only govern if their party has a majority. I will be an effective leader regardless of which party is in control. »
Stiehm, who has described himself as a centrist candidate, said people shouldn’t listen to politicians based on what they say they can do, but rather focus on what they have done.
“My 44 years in public service is an open book,” Stiehm said, noting that he worked with anyone who put Austin first at the time, and would work with anyone who put the district first. in this position.
The candidates will face Republican-endorsed nominees Gene Dornink for the 23rd Senate District, Bennett for the 23A House District and Patricia Mueller for the 23B House District this fall.
The DFL 1st District Convention Convention will be held May 14 at Albert Lea High School.