District 43 candidates are lining up

Political parties have made their endorsements

The upcoming presidential election is on everybody’s radar, but the November 2016 ballot will also allow people the chance to vote for candidates running for the Minnesota Senate and House of Representatives. 

The Republican and DFL parties have been holding their endorsing conventions, and in District 43 the legislative races are beginning to take shape. 

House District 43A includes Maplewood Precincts 1-9, White Bear Lake Precincts 3-5, Mahtomedi and Willernie.

House District 43B includes North St. Paul, Oakdale north of Tenth Street and Maplewood Precincts 10 and 11. 

Senate District 43 includes the entire area of House District 43A and 43B.

 

Bob Cardinal, Republican-endosed candidate for House District 43A

Former Maplewood mayor Bob Cardinal was endorsed March 19 by the Republican Party for the District 43A House of Representatives seat. He will face incumbent Peter Fischer, DFL-Maplewood, in the general election.

Cardinal was mayor from 1999 to 2005. In 2011, he was elected a Maplewood city council member and served four years in that position. He also served three years on active duty in the United States Marine Corps where he earned the rank of captain.

Cardinal said that he thinks what sets him apart is his many experiences in leadership positions. He added those experiences tested his abilities to make sound decisions and embrace all views. He said that listening to the people and embracing multiple viewpoints beyond his own is something he’s always tried to do.

In response to the Republican endorsement, the 63-year-old Cardinal said that party officials consider District 43A a swing district. He says, “They know that anything can happen this year.

“I think that the public needs a chance to have a choice for more than one candidate,” Cardinal said. “The public should know that there are two sides to every coin. ... The public should be well served by having as many choices as possible.”

According to Cardinal, the big issue his campaign will be focusing on is: “Jobs, jobs, jobs.”

Cardinal is a licensed real estate broker in Minnesota and Wisconsin and has been involved with the real estate business since 1990. He earned an A.A. degree from Lakewood Community College and a B.A. in liberal arts from the University of St. Thomas. 

He and his wife, Sharon, live in Maplewood, and they have six children. 

According to Cardinal, there was no Republican Party endorsement for House District 43B to run against incumbent Rep. Leon Lillie, DFL-North St. Paul, or for Senate District 43 to run against six-term state Sen. Chuck Wiger, DFL-Maplewood.

Peter Fischer, DFL-endorsed candidate for House District 43A 

The District 43A House of Representatives seat is currently held by Peter Fischer, who was endorsed April 9 by the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party. 

The 57-year-old Fischer was first elected to the Legislature in 2012, and serves on the following committees: Environment and Natural Resources Policy and Finance; Health and Human Services Reform, and the Veterans Affairs Division.

“It is very humbling and an honor to be able to receive the DFL endorsement by acclimation this year,” Fischer said.

Fischer said he is seeking a third term because he wants to continue promoting “strong education, strong transportation and a strong environment.” 

Fischer said it is important to make sure we are providing proper education so that today’s students are able to find well-paying jobs in the future. 

He also said a common problem he hears about is the lack of Metro Transit buses offered throughout the day in the suburbs, which encourages him to work to make sure that the public transportation system is improved so that it meets the needs of all residents. 

“I think the biggest achievement [so far] has been working on regional water issues and water issues in general,” he said, though he added it is important to continue protecting water and water resources as well as the environment in general.

Fischer is the director of finance and operations at a nonprofit homeless youth center in Minneapolis, and through his experience there said he sees a need to provide “equal access to opportunity regardless of race.”

Fischer earned an A.A. Degree from Lakewood Community College and a B.A. in business administration from the University of St. Thomas.

He is a lifelong resident of Maplewood. He and his wife, Kristi, have three children.

Leon Lillie, DFL-endorsed candidate for House District 43B

Leon Lillie of North St. Paul received the endorsement April 9 of the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party for a seventh term in the Legislature representing House District 43B. 

The 54-year-old Lillie currently serves on the following House committees: Aging and Long-Term Care Policy, DFL Lead; Capital Investment; Commerce and Regulatory Reform; and Legacy Funding Finance.

Lillie was a member of the North Saint Paul City Council from 1995 to 2004. He earned a B.S. in political science from Luther College, and is an airline employee. He and his wife, Missy, have three adult children.

At this point in the campaign season, Lillie does not have a Republican Party-endorsed opponent.

Charles Wiger, DFL-endorsed candidate for Senate District 43

Longtime state Sen. Chuck Wiger was endorsed April 9 by the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party for a seventh  term. 

“It’s an honor to be endorsed again by the DFL and several groups ranging from firefighters, environment and parks advocates, building trades, education, working families and more. As a third-generation resident of our great area, I have deep roots and commitment to serving people,” Wiger said.

Wiger served Senate District 55 from 1996 to 2012, and Senate District 43 since 2013. He is on the following committees: Education pre-K-12 Budget Division, chair; Education, chair; Finance Transportation and Public Safety Budget Division; and Transportation and Public Safety.

“As Senate Education chair, I’m proud of many accomplishments, especially helping establish our state and local student achievement and accountability program, “World’s Best Workforce.” This program sets goals for achievement such as being ready for k[indergarten], reading proficiency by third grade and graduating ready for college, vocational school or career,” Wiger said.

Wiger has sponsored many education and community initiatives over the years, and earned recognition as “Legislator of the Year” by groups representing veterans, health promotion, education, the environment, business and nurses. Before he was elected to the Legislature, he served on the North St. Paul-Maplewood-Oakdale School Board.

“Looking ahead, I am committed to continue fighting for key issues important to our district - education, public safety, clean and sustainable water and environment, transportation and transit, parks and trails, and consumer protection,” Wiger said.

The 64-year-old Wiger works as an attorney in St. Paul. He attended Hamline University for his B.A. and J.D. degrees. He also attended the Graduate Institute of Organization Management, University of Colorado, Boulder.

He lives in Maplewood and has five grown children

Chris Belflower, Independence Party-endorsed candidate for Senate District 43

Christopher Belflower has received the endorsement of the Independence Party for his campaign for the Senate District 43 seat currently held by Maplewood DFLer Charles Wiger.

“I’m honored to be able to represent the residents from District 43, as well as the rest of Minnesota as the endorsed candidate from the Independence Party,” Belflower said.

The 46-year-old Belflower spent 22 years as a volunteer firefighter. In that time he was a member of the Inver Grove Heights Fire Department and then the Mahtomedi Fire Department and maintained several positions within each department. 

Belflower also has experience working as a service and training specialist for firefighters and mechanics, and as an entrepreneur of a restaurant entertainment poker company, which he sold last year. 

Today, he is the lead instructor for the state of California’s fire mechanics certification courses and the safety training specialist for a utility construction company in the Twin Cities. He lives in Mahtomedi with his wife, Sharon, and their three children. 

Although he described himself as primarily “right leaning,” he said he has both conservative and liberal beliefs, and his views cover both sides of the political aisle. 

“I’m looking for solution-based resolutions rather than the stalemate that we are regularly seeing in the two-party system we have now,” Belflower said.

A few issues that he says are important to him include legalizing recreational cannabis and online gaming such as poker. 

His campaign website states, “Resources show that lower educational scores directly relate to the percentages of families that are eligible for free or reduced-price lunches. Also, the Minnesota Department of Health recently released a study showing the correlation between income and diabetes.”

According to Belflower, the money that could be generated by legalizing recreational cannabis and online gaming could be used to reduce or eliminate the state income tax burdens that currently affect families.

“I don’t expect every resident to agree with every one of my views, however, if we can accomplish some true compromise, responsible give and take, we can accomplish great things for the state of Minnesota,” he said.

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