Republicans endorse candidates for House District 41 seats


Ryan Evanson

Camden Pike

At its endorsing convention last month, the District 41 Republican Party committee announced its picks for the district’s two House of Representative seats.   

Ryan Evanson of Fridley will be the Republican candidate on the ballot in November for state House District 41A, which includes Fridley, New Brighton and Spring Lake Park. He will face incumbent Rep. Connie Bernardy, who decided to seek reelection after not receiving the DFL Party endorsement for a Senate run in District 41. 

House District 41B Rep. Carolyn Laine was endorsed by the DFL for the state Senate. Laine currently does not have a Republican challenger in her District 41 race. 

Laine’s attempt to move up to the Senate means she is giving up her House seat.

Camden Pike of St. Anthony Village threw in his cap for that seat and is backed by the Republicans in 41B, which includes Columbia Heights, St. Anthony Village, New Brighton and Hilltop City.

 

New to the scene

Evanson, 29, grew up in the northern Hennepin County, mostly in Brooklyn Park and Brooklyn Center, and he and his wife only recently moved to Fridley. 

After being elected as a delegate during his precinct caucuses, he was informed by the GOP committee that there was no Republican candidate yet for District 41A.

“I thought this would be a good opportunity for me to step in,” Evanson said. “I think it was important that a candidate stepped forward. It sounds simple but that’s sort of how I decided to run; there was no one else doing it and I thought it was important that someone did.”

After graduating from Champlin Park High School, Evanson studied business management at Minnesota State-Mankato and then entered the financial field. He’s worked as a banker at Wells Fargo in Minneapolis for almost six years, and occasionally fills in at a branch in New Brighton. 

“As a banker I think I have unique insight into the financial needs of retired people, and District 41 is largely represented by retired people,” Evanson said. “Minnesota has been ranked as one of the least friendly states toward retirees and that’s largely due to high taxes, cost of living, but especially taxing Social Security. We’re one of the few states that does that,” he added. 

Evanson said his other two campaign focuses will be education and healthcare.

“Parents care about their kids, and particularly their education,” said Evanson, who as of two weeks ago has a newborn daughter. “The cost of education is way too high, and I think there are things we can do that will make school more affordable.”

Evanson explained that, in his eyes, it’s not only the high costs of education that burdens residents, but healthcare as well, he said. 

“What I’d like to do is make prices more transparent,” Evanson said. “There’s something wrong with the system if consumers don’t know the prices until they get the bills. If we could know the pricing of care and procedures beforehand, we could make more informed decisions, which could reduce the cost of healthcare and insurance as well.” 

 

A familiar face 

Pike, 28, of St. Anthony, ran for the House 41B seat two years ago against Laine, who was the incumbent candidate. This year he’ll be running against DFLer Mary Kunesh-Podein. 

Pike, who announced in January his intention to run, is a self-proclaimed “doer.” 

A 2006 graduate of St. Anthony Village High School and nearly lifelong resident of St. Anthony, Pike said that he cares about his hometown and doesn’t like “sitting on the sidelines, not doing anything.”

Pike is a manager at HOM Furniture and Gabberts in Little Canada and said he has experience in marketing, public relations, graphic design and editing.

He took a few courses at Century College, but said he wanted to focus more on his interests and career so he decided not to pursue a degree. 

“I’m a thinker; I’m a doer,” Pike said. “That’s why I decided to jump in once again — to make sure, you know, we have strong schools, we have good paying jobs, and to just really work on making our community a better place.”

According to Pike, he’s set his campaign focuses — with a slogan of “A fresh look” — on education, jobs and reducing certain taxes.

“Education is the cornerstone of what makes society in America so great, and it’s something that makes Minnesota stand out on the national level,” he said. “But there’s still a lot of improvements that we can make — the achievement gap needs to be reduced.”

If elected to the Legislature, Pike said he would focus on jobs as well.  

“We need to make sure we have as many good-paying jobs as possible,” said Pike, who is pro-union, a stance that might set him apart from other Republicans, he said. 

As for his second run for the House 41B seat, Pike said he maintains the same beliefs but this campaign will be more vocal about them.

“I’m going to be a little bit bolder this time around,” he said. “There’s going to be a better dialogue. I think it’s going to be a more competitive race this year. I think more people will be paying attention and will be engaged.”

 

Jesse Poole can be reached at jpoole@lillienews.com or at 651-748-7815. Follow him at @JPooleNews.

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