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Candidate profile: Kent targets jobs, education

Susan Kent considers herself to be a bit wonky.

After more than 20 years in the marketing and media world, the Woodbury resident found herself eager to dig deep into issues.

"I am deeply knowledge based," Kent said.

So when new Senate districts were unveiled in February, Kent decided those skills would suit her well in a run for the Legislature. She is challenging Sen. Ted Lillie, R-Woodbury, in Senate District 53, which includes all of Woodbury, Landfall and portions of Oakdale and Maplewood.

When Kent saw the new district lines - which also meant there was no incumbent Democrat in the district - she decided to give it a go.

"It fit with me in terms of where we are as a state and a community," she said.

Moreover, she felt like the Republican-controlled Legislature wasn't moving Minnesota forward.

"We've lost so much ground for a variety of reasons," Kent said. "

Kent, who also founded a local chapter of a national nonprofit group Mothers and More, said she aims to strengthen the link between education and economic development in Minnesota.

"To me, education is sort of the canary in the coal mine for the bigger economic picture," Kent said.

She figures that good schools don't just produce good citizens - they attract businesses and jobs.

"Education is so vital to our strength as a society," Kent said.

But she said that system in Minnesota is in need of a fix. She noted that Minnesota ranks fourth in the nation for states with the largest average class sizes.

"Minnesota never ranks No. 4 on the bad lists in education," Kent said. "We're not placing the right priority on education."

She said that, if elected, she would work together with other lawmakers "get past the divisiveness, the distractions and the gridlock."

Kent believes the lion's share of Woodbury residents are moderates, which is how she describes herself.

"Anyone who's representing that extreme party here is not representing this district," Kent said.

As a lawmaker, she said she would also like to concentrate on building public-private partnerships, saying they often are a recipe for economic development success stories and job growth.

"I think there is a role for government to identify with and work with the private sector," she said.

Mike Longaecker

Mike Longaecker is the regional public safety reporter for RiverTown Multimedia. His coverage area spans St. Croix and Pierce counties. Longaecker served from 2011-2015 as editor of the Woodbury Bulletin. A University of Wisconsin-River Falls graduate, Longaecker previously reported for the Red Wing Republican Eagle and for the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau. You can follow him on Twitter at @Longaecker

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