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Rep. Andrew Carlson, DFL-Bloomington, right, speaks with Rep. Paul Rosenthal, DFL-Edina, during a House session April 7. (Staff photo: Bill Klotz)
Rep. Andrew Carlson, DFL-Bloomington, right, speaks with Rep. Paul Rosenthal, DFL-Edina, during a House session April 7. (Staff photo: Bill Klotz)

Breaking the Ice: Representative focuses on building relationships

Name: Andrew Carlson

Title: Representative, District 50B

Education: B.S., community and regional planning, Iowa State University; MBA, University of St. Thomas.

Rep. Andrew Carlson, DFL-Bloomington, is focusing his first House term on delving deeply into committee issues and building relationships with colleagues.

“My emphasis is on becoming a subject matter expert in those areas,” Carlson said of his work on the civil law, property tax and transportation committees. “And finding time to reach across the aisle. To foster some relationships with rural Democrats, suburban Republicans and folks who serve on the committees I’m on.”

Carlson, a project manager for the Minneapolis Public Works Department, previously was a two-term Bloomington City Council member and served on the city’s Housing and Redevelopment Authority Commission.

His time as a policy fellow at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs was a turning point.

“That had a tremendous impact on forming my sense of self-awareness,” Carlson said. “What gives you purpose? What do you want to do in life? These fundamental questions, digging into those deeply and learning about yourself makes you more able to understand others, and we need more of that in this world.”

Q. What’s the best way to start a conversation with you?

A. For me it’s talking about Bloomington. Almost everybody that I’ve met has been to Bloomington for one reason or another. I love it when they take the time to share their trip to Bush Lake Beach or the Hyland Hills Ski Area, the [Minnesota Valley National] Wildlife Refuge or of course the Mall of America.

Q. Who was the first presidential candidate you voted for and why?

A. Bill Clinton, his second term. I followed the Clinton administration very closely for that first four years and was really impressed with what he did in terms of reducing the national debt.

Q. What books are on your bedside table or e-reader?

A. A book called “The Nix,” by Nathan Hill. Nathan is a good friend of mine. He was a creative writing professor at the University of St. Thomas. He would always say he’s been working on this book for 10 years. He finished the book and he’s got this amazing life now. It just really took off.

Q. What is a pet peeve of yours?

A. Slow drivers in the fast lane! I’m guilty of that sometimes myself. But it’s, like, come on, get over, let everybody get by you.

Q. If someone visits you in your hometown, what would you take them to see or do?

A. We’d go out for breakfast at Taste of Scandinavia. Fill up on coffee and eggs, maybe some Swedish pancakes. Head over to Hyland Hills, do some cross-country skiing or downhill skiing.

Lunch would be at Gyropolis; amazing gyros. Then we’d probably head over to the Wildlife Refuge. Just take in the sights. Burn off some calories by going for a nice walk. A trip to Bloomington wouldn’t be complete without a stop at the Mall of America. Dinner would be at David Fong’s (Chinese Restaurant), an institution in Bloomington. For the evening, a show at Artistry (at Bloomington Center for the Performing Arts).

Q. How has an event or person inspired you?

A. Two people that I have never met but have made a major impact in my life would be Paul Wellstone and President Barack Obama. I’m sure [Obama] will re-emerge shortly and continue to do great things. But he’s definitely missed.

Q. What would be one way to end partisan polarization?

A. Relationships lead to dialog. Dialog leads to understanding. Informal conversations, hallway conversations where there is an intentional sense on the part of both individuals to focus on something other than an issue. Let’s start with getting to know each other first. Then we have a relationship. Now we can get together again and talk about those important issues that we need to solve.

Q. What’s the highlight or lowlight of your daily commute?

A. The best thing about the commute is I’ve got a fairly short commute. My commute takes me through pretty much all my district.

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