Fischer edges out Stout; Lillie, Ward keep seats in state rep races

State representatives for residents and stakekholders in North St. Paul, Maplewood and Oakdale are the same people -- and the same DFLers -- who went to the Capitol in the last session.

Review readers had an early look at candidates' concerns and plans in their responses to candidate questionnaires.

43A: Fischer 50.65%/Stout 49.14%

DFLer Peter Fischer and Republican Stacey Stout faced one another the last time around, both as political novices.

In 2012, Fischer prevailed with 11,618 or 52.7 percent of the vote; Stout gained 10,374 or 47.1 percent.

This time, the race took on a higher profile as backers of both sides sized up the possibilities of a turnover. Local residents report receiving almost daily mailings regarding the tilt.

The added attention helped Stout, but not enough.

Fischer brought in 8,301 or 50.65 percent of the vote; Stout had 8,054 or 49.14 percent.

According to Ramsey County Elections manager Joe Mansky, the vote totals would have had to have been 56 apart to trigger a recount.

Stout is a Mahtomedi resident with an impressive resume of 14 years of experience as a legislative advisor, including five years as an attorney at the Department of Justice. The 41-year old holds a Juris Doctorate from the University of Tulsa, and also spent time at the University of Leiden -- Netherlands, as a Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar. Currently, she works as a legislative counsel for the State of Minnesota.

Fischer, 56, has local roots and name recognition in Maplewood, where he's a second generation of Fischers involved in local politics. He has worked in small business and the past seven years has been director of finance and operations for a homeless youth shelter in North Minneapolis. He holds a bachelor's degree in business administration from the University of St. Thomas.

Fischer has served one term in the district that was carved out of northwest Maplewood, Mahtomedi and the southern part of White Bear Lake in the 2010 redistricting, said his legislative priority would be groundwater quality and availability, in light of the low water table being blamed for low water levels in White Bear Lake. He cited accomplishments of the DFL-controlled 2012-14 Legislature such as paying back borrowed funding to K-12 schools and restoring cuts to nursing homes.

Stout, on the other hand, said Minnesota's main challenge is providing sound education.

"We have a strong tradition of education excellence in Minnesota, yet we have a serious achievement gap," she said.

"Through innovation, prioritized funding, and higher standards, every child can learn without limits."

43B: Lillie 58%/Whitethorn 41%

DFLer Leon Lillie will keep representing a district that includes his hometown of North St. Paul for a sixth two-year term.

He prevailed with 7,891 votes (58 percent) to Whitethorn's 5,672 (42 percent).

The 53-year-old was previously a member of the North St. Paul City Council. Lillie says he'll focus on K-12 and higher ed in the coming sessions. It's vital to Minnesota to keep its colleges and universities affordable, he says, as well as to make sure their programs graduate adults ready to meet employers' needs.

Justice Whitethorn, 45, of Oakdale, is the latest Republican to face Lillie. Whitethorn has a master's degree in organizational leadership from the University of Northwestern-St. Paul. He owns Whitethorn Consulting and previously served in the U.S. Marine Corps.

"As a veteran I will serve with courage, honor, loyalty," he said. Rather than singling out one particular issue, Whitethorn said the biggest problem the state faces is the government itself.

53A: Ward 58%/Czech 41%

DFLer JoAnn Ward was re-elected in her Ramsey County precincts hours before Washington County affirmed the decision.

Ramsey County was reporting all its 53A precincts' results in by 10 p.m.

When the precincts in Washington County reported -- one precinct in Landfall, two in Oakdale and six in Woodbury -- Ward had held her lead, with 8,420 votes (58 percent) to Lukas Czech's 5,983 (41 percent).

Lukas Czech, 34, has a bachelor's degree in criminal justice and a B.A. in religion from Hamline University, and an associate's degree in architectural drafting and design from Dakota County Technical College. He works full time as an LG experience expert at Best Buy in Oakdale.

He said the state needs to focus on the infrastructure needs in roads and bridges and said while a year ago Minnesota had "one of the best health care systems in the world" but since MNsure was introduced, the system "is overpriced and confusing."

Czech also said if elected he'd prioritize the flexibility of bus rapid transit rather than the "fixed-route" solution light-rail offers.

Ward stood by MNsure, saying premiums were coming in at the lowest rates in the nation for the second year in a row.

"We should not turn back to the dark days when insurance companies could cancel our coverage if we developed life-threatening medical conditions like cancer, charge women higher premiums than men, cap the amount of care we can receive or ban young adults from staying on their parents' coverage until age 26," she said.

Ward said improving roads, bridges and public transit in the east metro would continue to be a top priority if re-elected.

She said she would work to increase frequency of bus service in the region, and improve the interchange where interstates 94 and 694/494 meet, a frequent traffic bottleneck.

Holly Wenzel can be reached at review@lillienews.com. Follow her on Twitter @lilliereview.


Turnout at 50 percent, down from 60 in '06 midterm

Secretary of State Mark Ritchie announced a preliminary and unofficial turnout for the November 4 General Election of just over 50 percent, based on an estimated 1,985,747 participating voters out of 3,945,136 that are eligible.

The number of voters and the turnout rate will slightly increase as counties submit their final voter statistics. Final turnout and election results will be announced after the State Canvassing Board certifies election results on November 25.

In 2010, a similar midterm election, Minnesota’s turnout was 55.81 percent and in 2006, turnout was 60.47 percent.

 

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