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Woodbury-area Democrats maneuver as convention nears; Slawik bows out

A flurry of activity punctuated the run-up to next weekend's Senate District 53 DFL endorsing convention.

The latest development occurred Saturday, when Rep. Nora Slawik, who was poised to run in House District 53A, announced she will be stepping down from the Legislature this year.

Slawik is a Maplewood Democrat who had previously announced plans to run in the newly created House district, which comprises the western portion of Woodbury, in addition to portions of Maplewood, Oakdale and Landfall.

"While I would thoroughly enjoy the honor of continuing to represent our area, the financial circumstance of having one child in college and another preparing for college make that difficult," Slawik said in a news release.

Her announcement came one week before Woodbury-area Democrats were to gather for their endorsing convention.

Despite the late shake-up, it appears there will be Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party candidates for both House seats and the Senate seat.

Susan Kent, a Woodbury resident and former PTA leader announced Thursday that she will seek the Democratic endorsement in Senate District 53.

The new Senate district - comprising all of Woodbury and portions of surrounding cities to its west - was established last month during the redistricting process.

In the release, Kent named education, health care and job creation as her top priorities.

"Minnesota has a proud legacy of commitment to education, health care and job creation that has contributed to a healthy population," Kent said through the release. "As we look toward economic recovery, it is critical that we renew our commitment to our citizens and end the legislative gridlock at the Capitol."

Kent lists 20 years of consultant work in marketing and media strategy for her professional experience. The release also states she has been PTA president of South Washington County Schools and founded the Twin Cities East Chapter of Mothers & More.

Kent and her husband, Chris, have one son.

She looks to challenge Sen. Ted Lillie, R-Lake Elmo, who received his party's endorsement Saturday to run in Senate District 53.

No other Democratic challengers appeared in Kent's way - anymore. On Friday, Woodbury resident Mark Wackerfuss announced he was abandoning his House District 53A candidacy in an effort to challenge Kent for the endorsement.

He retracted the statement a day later after "some problems with the local DFL Party" over the decision, according to an email. Wackerfuss said he will re-engage his House District 53A campaign.

The remaining seat, House District 53B, also saw a Democratic candidate emerge last week.

Ann Marie Metzger announced Friday that she will seek her party's endorsement to run against Rep. Andrea Kieffer, R-Woodbury. Kieffer received the GOP endorsement Saturday.

Metzger said through a news release that she will file amended paperwork with the state to run in the newly drawn district, which encompasses the eastern two-thirds of Woodbury.

Metzger last year filed to run in House District 56A, currently represented by Rep. Kathy Lohmer. The existing district includes a portion of northern Woodbury.

According to a news release, Metzger, a 15-year resident of Woodbury, works as a loan operations manager, having worked for 15 years in the banking and finance industry.

The release states Metzger will focus on community as it relates to bolstering the state.

"I do not believe that our problems can be placed at the table of any one group," she said in the release. "We face these problems together. The solutions should be found together."

Metzger, whose 15-year-old son attends Stillwater High School, took aim at a state budgeting maneuver that borrows funds from education coffers.

"Our children's children will live their lives based on the decisions we make as a state now," 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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