Candidates want investment in infrastructure, mental health and safety

Sheldon Johnson

Lisa Thompson

Joe Weverka

State House District 67B

The race in state House District 67B is the only East Side legislative campaign with a third party-endorsed candidate this year. Longtime DFL incumbent Sheldon Johnson is being challenged by Republican Lisa Thompson and Libertarian Joe Weverka. The Review asked the candidates, via email, what skills and experiences they would bring to the office, what top challenges they see facing the district and state, and what issue or project they would prioritize if elected.

Sheldon Johnson, 62, divorced, lives in the Highwood Hills neighborhood on the East Side. He is retired from Ramsey County Community Corrections, where he was a court mediator and a caseworker. He worked in juvenile and adult corrections for 34 years. He has a master's degree in psychology from the University of St. Thomas and has served in the state House since 2000. "I have a strong track record of accomplishments at the Legislature and in the community, including helping secure needed investments for a new Science Education Center, and Community Library at Metro State University," Johnson said. Johnson added that his ability to problem solve and work well with others, be thoughtful and available to his constituents have helped him be successful in office. Johnson said one of the top challenges he sees facing the state and District 67B is the need to invest more in the state's physical infrastructure. "I support strategic long-term investment (such as a significant bonding bill) for higher education, an efficient transportation system, housing, clean water and wastewater systems, so our state will continue to prosper" Johnson said. If re-elected, Johnson said he would prioritize racial and economic justice. "We need to work towards justice in communities of color, gender equity that promotes the economic status of women, and help ensure that all Minnesotans have access to affordable health care." He said examples of initiatives he would prioritize include workforce development in communities of color and assistance for minority-owned businesses.  

Lisa Thompson, 45, lives in the Battle Creek neighborhood. She owns her own business, the Mighty Fit Chick, which provides nutrition, massage and personal training services. She has a master's degree in education from California State University, San Bernardino. "As a small-business owner in the health field, I spend my days listening to my clients and helping them find ways to improve their lives," Thompson said. Her goal is to help her clients find practical solutions to make their lives better, which are goals and skills she said she would apply to her work as a state legislator. Thompson said the top challenges she sees facing the state include providing affordable health insurance options, promoting small-business growth and keeping urban communities safe. If elected, Thompson said she would prioritize neighborhood safety. "When I'm out door-knocking in our district, I'm shocked and saddened by the number of people, especially those nearing retirement age, who tell me they are considering moving because they no longer feel safe," Thompson said. "I believe our community can work together with law enforcement and other groups to solve this problem and keep the long-term residents of the East Side here even longer."

Joe Weverka, 33, lives in the Hazel Park neighborhood on the East Side with his wife Kayleen. He is the owner of 4:13 Personal Training. He is currently working on an associate's degree in criminology from St. Paul College. Weverka sits on a board that helps to bring awareness to the tragedy of military veteran suicides. He said being a member of that board gives him experience working with others to find solutions. "We need to open and explore all possible treatment options for conditions like depression, anxiety and PTSD," Weverka said. He said the state faces the challenge of reforming energy usage and needs to be open to innovative ideas. Weverka said the state needs to explore clean-energy options that save tax dollars and create high-paying jobs. "We are going green as a nation, and we have an opportunity to be one of the leaders," he said. Weverka said the project he would like to work on while in office would be to provide incentives to clear vacant properties that invite criminal activity. "I think we should offer one-year tax forgiveness for those that are willing to establish their business or residency in a house/building that has been vacant for 18 months or longer." He said this could diminish the stress a new business experiences and also create new jobs.

Election day is Nov. 8. To find your polling place visit

Marjorie Otto can be reached at 651-748-7816 or at Follow her on Twitter at @EastSideM_Otto.

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