by Dennis Dalman
Two women – one incumbent and a newcomer – are competing to represent the residents of Minnesota House District 13A starting in January of next year.
That seat will be determined in the Nov. 3 general election.
The two candidates are incumbent Lisa Demuth (R-Cold Spring) and Katy Westlund (DFL-Paynesville). District 13A includes the cities of St. Joseph, Avon, Cold Spring, Paynesville and Kimball.
The following are profiles of the two candidates:
Demuth was elected to the Minnesota Legislature on her first try in 2018 when she defeated DFL candidate Jim Read of Collegeville by a nearly 2 to 1 margin. The district had previously been served by Rep. Jeff Howe (R-Rockville), but in 2018 he decided to compete for Senate District 13, which was held by Sen. Michelle Fischbach (R-Paynesville) until she resigned after becoming lieutenant governor. Howe went on to win that seat.
Demuth lives near Cold Spring with her husband, Nick. They have four grown children. She and Nick own a commercial-property rental company called Boardwalk Business Center. She has been a member of the Rocori school board for 11 years.
As a member of the House, she serves on the following committees: Early-Childhood Finance and Policy, Education Finance, and Greater Minnesota Jobs and Economic Development Finance.
Demuth has authored or co-authored many bills in her 21 months in the House. Those bills involved dealing with invasive species, requirement of record-keeping for childcare assistance, penalties established for people in authority having sex with students, aid increases for special-education funding funds and funding for Phase I of the St. Joseph Community Center.
Like other Republican legislators, Demuth was active since March in measures to deal with the Corona-19 virus pandemic, including efforts to open businesses and schools partially with proper safety measures. She joined other Republicans in voting against Gov. Tim Walz’s executive emergency powers in dealing with the pandemic, claiming such powers were an over-reach of the governor’s role. The Democrats, however, several times blocked the Republicans’ efforts to limit those emergency powers.
Demuth strongly favors the Second Amendment (right to bear arms) but is also in favor of extensive background checks. She advocates for more local control of schools and more funding for school districts outside of the Metro area. She believes there must be serious reforms made to healthcare access, but she prefers any reforms be tailored for Minnesotans, not mandated by a federal government plan like the Affordable Care Act. Child protection remains one of her deepest concerns.
The DFL-endorsed Westlund of Paynesville, who is manager of a cyber-security company and is also a small-business owner. She also serves on the Paynesville Planning Commission.
She and her husband, Andy, have three sons, the oldest 22. Two of the sons suffer from epilepsy, and Westlund is active in the fight against that disorder. She is a member of the Epilepsy Foundation of Minnesota, as well as the Neighborhood Coalition and the Downtown St. Cloud Council.
In her campaign for the District 13A House seat, Westlund has been emphasizing three themes: farmers, families, small businesses.
She said she believes there is too much corporate control over the lives of people and that corporations not only can “buy” elections but also determine which laws get passed.
Westlund is in favor of a healthcare system affordable and with access by all. She also favors term limits for state and federal legislators, an expansion of broadband technology to rural areas, more school funding, more staff and funding for nursing homes, and urgent help for the many farmers who are falling behind financially and even losing their farms.
Author: Dennis Dalman
Dalman was born and raised in South St. Cloud, graduated from St. Cloud Tech High School, then graduated from St. Cloud State University with a degree in English (emphasis on American and British literature) and mass communications (emphasis on print journalism). He studied in London, England for a year (1980-81) where he concentrated on British literature, political science, the history of Great Britain and wrote a book-length study of the British writer V.S. Naipaul. Dalman has been a reporter and weekly columnist for more than 30 years and worked for 16 of those years for the Alexandria Echo Press.