by Dennis Dalman
Jim Read of Avon was endorsed last weekend by DFL delegates to compete for the seat in Minnesota House District 13A.
That seat is currently held by Rep. Jeff Howe (R-Rockville), who was first elected in 2012 and has retained that office for three consecutive terms.
Before Howe’s tenure, the House District 13A seat was held by former St. Joseph Mayor Larry Hosch, who served the legislative district from 2004-2012.
Voters will likely choose between Howe and Read in the Nov. 6 general election. However, the official filing period runs from May 22 through June 5. If more than one candidate files in either party, there will be a primary on Aug. 14.
House District 13A covers a large area of Stearns County, including St. Joseph and the townships of St. Joseph, Collegeville, Avon (southern part), Fair Haven, Lynden, Maine Prairie, Luxemburg, Eden Lake, Rockville, Paynesville, Munson, Wakefield and Zion.
Since 1988, Read has been a political-science professor at St. John’s University and the College of St. Benedict. Read’s wife, Pia Lopez, is a teacher at St. Cloud Technical & Community College. They met when they were in college and recently celebrated their 30th wedding anniversary. This will be Read’s second bid for a House seat. He competed in 1992 and lost by 98 votes, determined by a recount.
Born in Chesterton, Ind., Read attended public schools and was active as a Boy Scout and Eagle Scout. He graduated from the University of Chicago and later earned a doctorate in political science from Harvard University.
One of Read’s teaching emphases is the U.S. Constitution and the rights and duties of citizenship. He is the author of three books. One of them, Doorstep Democracy: Face to Face Politics in the Heartland, is about his door-to-door campaign for the Minnesota Legislature in 1992. He is currently working on a book about Abraham Lincoln and majority rule.
Read started his campaign in September 2017, long before his DFL endorsement. He enjoys door-to-door campaigning, meeting people face to face, because he is a strong believer in grassroots democracy.
“Our national and state politics have recently taken a negative and destructive turn,” Read said. “But in response to this, we have seen an inspiring upsurge of democratic activism by ordinary citizens, meeting and talking in living rooms and cafes and peacefully marching by the thousands for what they believe.”
During his campaign, Read is emphasizing a healing of the division in the state and nation, a renewal of grassroots democracy and an effort for all Minnesotans to have access to affordable health care.
Born in Morris, raised on a farm near Chokio, Howe has been a small-business owner, consultant and 35-year member of the Minnesota National Guard, attaining the ranks of major and lieutenant-colonel.
He has a bachelor’s degree in elective studies from St. Cloud State University.
He and his wife, Sheri, raised four children in Rockville.
Howe has also been a firefighter for 27 years, having served as Rockville fire chief, a fire marshal and an emergency management coordinator.
As a military man, Howe completed two tours of duty in Iraq and is the recipient of two bronze stars. He served in the U.S. Navy aboard the USS Kitty Hawk during the crisis precipitated by the taking of American hostages at the U.S. Embassy in Iran.
He is a member of the American Legion, the Veterans of Foreign Wars and several other military associations. He has served on the Rockville City Council and is an elder at Gloria Dei Church.
As the representative for House District 13A, Howe has served on many committees, including those concerned with data-practices policy, job growth, public safety, transportation, finance and energy affordability.
Howe, in his campaigning, emphasizes the need to control state spending, job creation and retention, fewer business regulations, the restoration of local control in decision-making, making transportation a high priority, a strengthening of services for veterans, and working for a fair and simpler education-funding formula.