|For Immediate Release||For more information contact:|
|April 1, 2002||Renae Reedy (651-296-9895)|
In the wake of a redistricting plan that placed four area state legislators in the running for two positions, Rep. George Cassell and Rep. Torrey Westrom announced their plans today for the upcoming November election.
Westrom and Cassell, who were paired for the same House seat, had three choices. They could run against each other for the Republican endorsement, compete in a primary election, or one of them could choose not to run for re-election.
Both Cassell and Westrom agreed they did not want to run against one another, so Rep. Cassell announced today that he will not seek re-election to the House of Representatives. Instead, he will run for the Minnesota Senate in what is now called Senate District 11.
"Rep. Westrom not only is a good friend of mine, but I also didn't want the Legislature to lose his valuable skills and experience," Cassell said. "Running for Senate makes it possible for the two of us to continue working together and serving this area as a strong team."
The newly structured Senate District 11 is currently home to both Sen. Charlie Berg and Sen. Dallas Sams. Sen. Berg announced last week that he will not seek re-election to the Senate, leaving the path open to Rep. Cassell for the Republican endorsement. Cassell's DFL opponent will likely be Sen. Sams of Staples, although he has not officially announced a bid for re- election.
"The new redistricting boundaries put the two senators at opposite corners of the district," Cassell said, "but because I live in Alexandria, I am centrally located in the new district, and have better access to all the communities within it. For me, it is a matter of being in the right place at the right time."
Rep. Westrom also officially announced that he will seek re-election in the new House District 11A. Living in Elbow Lake, Westrom is also centrally located in his new district. Westrom said he is pleased with the way things have worked out after redistricting and is looking forward to campaigning with Cassell, rather than against him.
"When it was first announced that Rep. Cassell and I were paired in the same district, I was disappointed because I knew I didn't want to run against Rep. Cassell. He's been a tremendous resource on education issues ever since I was first elected to office," Westrom said.
He continued, "I couldn't be more pleased with the way things have worked out. I'm eager to continue serving the interests and needs of west-central Minnesota and working with Rep. Cassell. I think we'll make a strong House/Senate legislative team."
Rep. Westrom is currently serving his third two-year term in the Minnesota House of Representatives. Serving mostly farm communities, he's made agriculture one of his key issues and currently serves as Vice Chair of the Agriculture Policy Committee. In addition, rural economic development has also been a priority for Westrom and he has consistently supported legislation that encourages more industry, housing and development in Greater Minnesota.
Rep. Cassell is a retired school superintendent who served as a teacher and administrator for 35 years, including 10 years as Superintendent of the Alexandria school system. He has a Ph.D. in Education Administration and has made education one of his key legislative priorities. Serving on both the Education Policy and Higher Education Finance committees, he has worked to improve Minnesota public schools at all levels.
Cassell comes from a farming background and is an avid outdoor sportsman. He also serves on the House Agriculture Policy and Environment and Natural Resources Policy committees.
"With the wide range of experience and expertise that Rep. Westrom and I bring to the table," Cassell noted, "a House and Senate partnership between the two of us will provide quality representation for the good people in this part of the state."