Bernardy and Laine running for District 41 seat

Sen. Barb Goodwin
Sen. Barb Goodwin
Rep. Connie Bernardy
Rep. Connie Bernardy
Rep. Carolyn Laine
Rep. Carolyn Laine

State Sen. Goodwin will retire at end of her term

DFL candidates are already lining up well ahead of their party's April endorsing convention in state Senate District 41.

The races for the Senate seat and House Districts 41-A and 41-B got underway shortly after state Sen. Barb Goodwin of Columbia Heights announced Nov. 12 that she will not be running for re-election to retain her position in the Legislature next year.

The 66-year-old Goodwin, who has served in the Senate since 2010, and in the House before that from 2000 to 2006, said she plans to retire.

Both of the House members in Goodwin's district — encompassing Columbia Heights, Fridley, St. Anthony, New Brighton and one precinct in Spring Lake Park — announced plans to run for Goodwin's state Senate seat.

DFL House Reps. Connie Bernardy, District 41A, and Carolyn Laine, District 41B, both in their fifth terms, intend to run.

A focus on education

Bernardy, who grew up in the district, has lived in Columbia Heights, Fridley, and now lives in New Brighton.

She currently works for Ramsey County in the Parks and Recreation Department.

"Despite the polarization that exists at the Capitol, I've worked with Republicans and Democrats to find bipartisan solutions to Minnesota's and our community's challenges," Bernardy said in a media statement. "I have spent my life building community partnerships. I get real satisfaction bringing people together, and I believe collaboration and compromise can work here in Minnesota."

Bernardy, who has an MBA degree from the University of St. Thomas, said she would continue to focus on education and senior citizen issues, and said she has received recognition for her efforts in both areas.

Spotlight on health care

Prior to serving in the House, Laine of Columbia Heights spent 10 years on the Columbia Heights School Board. Her five children are all graduates of Columbia Heights schools.

Laine has also worked as a teacher in Minneapolis schools and as a financial director for a non-profit organization. She has a master's degree in psychology from St. Mary's University.

"I am running under the slogan 'Unbought and Unbossed' and will not be accepting money from special interests or lobbyists," she said.

According to a statement, one of Laine's goals in the state Senate would be "making the institution more responsive and accountable" and her focus would be health care reform.

New candidates stepping up

Goodwin was one of the first senators in the state Legislature to announce plans to not seek re-election.

And it didn't take long for other DFLers to throw their hats in the ring once Bernardy and Laine said they were running for Goodwin's Senate seat.

New Brighton resident Rich Rosivach, a social studies teacher at Irondale High School in New Brighton and a member of the Education Minnesota Governing Board, announced his intention to run for the Bernardy's District 41A seat.

Rosivach has been teaching for more than 15 years and has served as co-chaired of the Minnesota Department of Education's Career Pathways and Technical Education Taskforce and has been a member of the Minnesota Social Studies Standards Committee.

Like Bernardy, he said his main focus and expertise is in education and education reform.

"Teaching has provided me the opportunity to see the rich diversity of this community," he said. "I have seen first-hand both success and struggles of our children and their families."

Valerie Rolstad has also declared her intention to seek the DFL endorsement in District 41A. She is a special education educational assistant in the Columbia Heights School District and in a statement said she "will be a strong advocate for working families at the Capitol."

In the House 41B race, Mary Kunesh-Podein and Rachel Nelson are vying for the DFL endorsement.

Kunesh-Podein is a library media specialist and has a master's degree in information media from St. Cloud State. She has been a member of the New Brighton parks and rec commission, and in a statement said, "I've been thinking about this for five years. ... I think I'm ready."

Nelson, who lives in New Brighton, is the DFL chair of Senate District 41. In a statement on the DFL district website, she said, "My legislative experience and fresh perspective will be exactly what folks in our community need in an advocate in St. Paul."  

Jesse Poole can be reached at or at 651-748-7815. Follow him at


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