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UPDATE: Fenton looking to 'roll up sleeves' in House District 53B

A heavy hitter in Minnesota politics emerged last week as the first Republican candidate hoping to succeed Rep. Andrea Kieffer.

Woodbury resident Kelly Fenton, who serves as deputy chairwoman for the Minnesota Republican Party, announced she will seek the GOP endorsement to run in House District 53B. She hopes to succeed Kieffer, who announced Nov. 6 that she will not seek re-election in 2014.

“After long thought and consideration – and many calls of encouragement – I am excited to be jumping in,” Fenton said Friday after filing papers to run.

She serves as second in command for the state GOP. Fenton said she will remain in her post “for the here and now,” but left her options open.

“As we move forward, we’ll put out details when and if it’s appropriate to step away,” she said.

Education will be her centerpiece campaign issue. Fenton noted that she is a former public school teacher who has kept a close watch on education as her children have attended school in Woodbury.

“Woodbury is a great community, and one thing that attracts new people outside the state and the community is great jobs and great education,” Fenton said.

She has been credited with providing stability to the Minnesota Republican Party after a string of controversy that prompted former leaders Tony Sutton and Michael Brodkorb to leave their posts.

Fenton said keeping the District 53B seat in GOP control is important to the party; the Woodbury area has for the past decade been a swing district, where party control has switched several times.

“I’m definitely not going to take anything for granted,” Fenton said. “I’m going to roll up my sleeves and make sure that this seat remains in Republican hands.”

Fenton said she would abide the party’s endorsement.

Her announcement marks the second candidate to emerge for the seat. Earlier this year, Woodbury Planning Commissioner Kay Hendrickson announced she will seek the Democratic endorsement.

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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