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Election provides opportunity to tackle pressing education issues

Minnesota voters have returned control of both chambers of the Legislature to the DFL party, setting up the best conditions for tackling pressing education issues in decades.

"Minnesota voters have rejected the misplaced priorities and gimmicky politics of the majority party,” said Education Minnesota President Tom Dooher. “Those same voters will now expect thoughtful and lasting solutions to real-life issues.”

The new majority leaders will work with Gov. Mark Dayton, who has been an outspoken supporter of public education, when the Legislature reconvenes in St. Paul in January. It will be the first time in more than 20 years that the governor and Legislature will be controlled by the same party.

Dooher said that on education, the Legislature should focus on reducing the achievement gap through research-driven policies, rebuilding the school finance system and fully funding a robust system of professional development and evaluation for teachers.

Educators head to Capitol
As the next Legislature crafts those policies, it will benefit from the first-hand knowledge of several current and former members of Education Minnesota. Twenty-seven such educators were endorsed by the union. Twenty of them won on Election Day.

In Senate races, Education Minnesota endorsed four current and former educators. The winners were Kevin Dahle (SD20), Kent Eken (SD4) and Roger Reinert (SD7).

In House races, 17 of 23 Education Minnesota-endorsed educators won seats. They were Roger Erickson (2A), Paul Marquart (4B), Tom Anzelc (5B), John Ward (10A), Jay McNamar (12A), Mary Sawatzky (17B), Dean Urdahl (18A), David Bly (20B), Jeanne Poppe (27B), Gene Pelowski Jr. (28A), Jerry Newton (37A), Jason Isaacson (42B), John Benson (44B), Lyndon Carlson (45A), Linda Slocum (50A), Will Morgan (56B) and Jim Davnie (63A).

Dooher credited the members: “We saw record involvement by members, who made more than 30,000 phone calls and wrote more than 45,000 postcards on behalf of our endorsed candidates. That incredible effort will make a huge difference for educators, our schools and our students.”

Below are more highlights of the election results:

Minnesota Legislature

  • The DFL took the majority in the Senate with a 39-28 lead.
    • This is a pro-public education majority. It includes newly elected legislators like John Hoffman (school board, SD36), Greg Clausen (former principal, SD57), Vicki Jensen (school board, SD24), Susan Kent (PTA, SD53) and Dahle (educator and union leader), who have close relationships with educators and first-hand knowledge about schools.
  • The DFL took the majority in the House of Representatives with a 73-61 lead.
    • This is also a pro-public education majority. It includes union leaders like Sawatzky and Morgan, retired 30-plus-year educators like Erickson and McNamar, and higher education faculty like Isaacson and Newton.


  • Former MEA member Rick Nolan was elected to the U.S. House. He’s an advocate for disabled children and a good friend to educators.
  • Former member Tim Walz, who spent 24 years in the classroom, convincingly won another term.

Human rights

  • Minnesotans defeated both the voter restriction and marriage restriction amendments, showing the collective passion and courage to stand up for civil rights and the common good.


  • President Obama won an electoral landslide, a victory for students, educators and labor. Throughout the campaign, the president pledged to invest in education, especially in early childhood education, and to make higher education more affordable.

Education Minnesota is an affiliate of the National Education Association, the American Federation of Teachers and AFL-CIO.

Education Minnesota
41 Sherburne Ave.
St. Paul, MN 55103

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