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Rep. Julie Sandstede is in the process of remodeling a lake home with her husband. (Submitted image)
Rep. Julie Sandstede is in the process of remodeling a lake home with her husband. (Submitted image)

Breaking the Ice: Speaking up for Iron Range ‘nuances’

Name: Julie Sandstede

Title: Representative, District 6A

Education: B.A., music education, College of St. Scholastica; M.E., curriculum and instruction, University of Saint Mary

Committee-hearing comments about “duplicative” state service were news to Rep. Julie Sandstede, DFL-Hibbing, a freshman legislator with a lifelong Iron Range perspective.

“It’s not universal across the state,” Sandstede said. “When you’re looking at Health and Human Services programs, for instance, and how they overlap in the metro area. When you come up to greater Minnesota you don’t see overlap at all. You may not even see some of these services. That was pretty eye-opening.”

A public school music teacher, Sandstede has been active in the community, serving as city band director, a church volunteer and in union leadership. Running for office “was not necessarily something I had on my bucket list,” she said.

That changed when Rep. Carly Melin, the incumbent DFLer, declined to seek re-election. Sandstede said she wanted to represent the Range and its “nuances.”

“We are a very, very hardworking community,” Sandstede said. “We have a streak of stubbornness perhaps. We are progressive in many ways, but we like our traditions in a lot of ways too. People do want to stay here, live here, work here and raise families here, yet those opportunities don’t always exist.”

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

A. “How are you doing?” I’m very approachable. It’s easy to engage me in conversation. A smile sometimes is enough or any kind of a greeting.

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

A. It was Clinton-Bush and I know I voted for Clinton. He was the Democratic candidate and he aligned with a lot of my fundamental beliefs on labor, education and different issues.

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

A. The last book I read was called “Wild Goose Chase” [by Mark Batterson]. It centered on prayer and spirituality, but interestingly it talked about an Oklahoma legislator who ran a day camp or a youth camp and found himself being called into public service, and was very much a parallel of my life.

Q. What’s a favorite activity outside your job?

A. My husband and I are in the process of remodeling a lake place. I’m just working, helping him in construction. Anything outdoors: boating, fishing, swimming. I really enjoy the water and love being on the water. I like to quilt. I play clarinet with the symphony up here.

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

A. In my hometown, there’s always world’s largest open pit to view. Sammy’s Pizza downtown, that’s a fun place to go. Touring the area in the nearby town of Chisholm, just a few miles away. There’s a great Italian place, Valentini’s [Supper Club]. And the Hibbing High School is gorgeous.

Q. How has an event or person inspired you?

A. I was inspired by my high school band director to get into education. Art Hill [retired from Hibbing High]. He’s been a tremendous influence for me professionally and personally. He is phenomenal educator far beyond the walls of the classroom.

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

A. We have great work in committee, but once the bills are being put together they’re generally put together by the party that’s in the majority. If there was more collaboration in how those bills are put together, maybe identifying the state’s biggest needs or vetting some of those early on and working on those issues, that might be a way of doing it. In conference committee when bills are being worked out, it’s a smaller group of people. Somehow getting larger groups to work together more frequently might help.

Q. What’s your favorite hidden place at the Capitol?

A. I’m still learning all of the secret little alcoves at the Capitol. Standing in the rotunda or being in that area just looking at the paintings on the ceiling, it’s not really hidden. It’s pretty much out in the open, but it is beautiful.

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