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Sen. Matt Little
Sen. Matt Little

Breaking the Ice: Mayoral experience influenced new senator

Name: Matt Little

Title: Senator, District 5B

Education: B.A., political science, University of Minnesota, Morris; J.D., University of Minnesota Law School

For Sen. Matt Little, DFL-Lakeville, two years on the Lakeville City Council and two terms as mayor prepared him to get along and get things done at the Capitol.

“My district is very conservative and I’m a DFLer, so I worked with four Republicans every week,” Little said of his city hall experience. “I came here being able to work with anybody and being able to have an argument but not having it be personal.”

Little ran for office in Lakeville in response to decisions he said resulted in short-term savings but greater overall costs, such as cutting police support staff, which left officers to fill out their own reports.

He ran for state Senate to address “things you don’t get to talk about as mayor, like education and health care and fixing the broader transportation system.”

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

A. If you’re a constituent looking to make the greatest impact, schedule a meeting, come and see me. Or try to schedule something on Friday down in the district. Otherwise the easiest way is just say, “Hi.” I’ll pretty much talk with anybody.

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

A. ’04, it would have been John Kerry. I was worried about our involvement in the wars in the Middle East and I wanted us to get out, so that’s how I voted.

Q. What is a pet peeve of yours?

A. People that chew with their mouths open. I can’t stand that.

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

A. Basketball is my favorite, although it’s getting harder with the knees lately. I play at Life Time in Lakeville quite a bit. I hang out with my fiancée and our dogs. She travels a bunch, so when we’re home at the same time we try and spend that time together.

Q. How has an event or person inspired you?

A. In college I had an adviser, Tom McRoberts. He got me to be more professional in terms of my political involvement. More measured. He taught me that throwing out firebombs at the other side wasn’t the most effective way to make change. He passed away three weeks before my first election.

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

A. We’re going to disagree. That’s natural, that’s why we run campaigns, that’s why the same people don’t always come back here. We’ve just got to continue to talk to each other and focus on the areas in which we can find agreement. And we’ve got to give a little bit. Each side has to give a little bit to make this state work.

Q. What is the highlight or lowlight of your daily commute to work?

A. Because my office is at home and because I spent time at city hall I didn’t have a commute for a few years. I didn’t like it at first, but I’m starting to enjoy it now. It’s my time to listen to the morning shows, listen to music and gear up for the day.

Q. What is something very few people know about you?

A. I’ve started to drink Ensure in the morning because I don’t eat breakfast. And I’m not embarrassed about that. I always forget to eat breakfast so my fiancée has made me start drinking that.

Q. What’s your first impression of the Capitol renovations?

A. I didn’t spend a lot of time here before the renovations, so I don’t have the context of some of the longtime legislators here other than I don’t think I’ll work in a better office ever in my life. This is a beautiful place.

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

A. My second day of session I was going on to the floor and one of the security people stopped me and said I can’t go in. I leaned in and said, “I’m actually a senator.” They were like, “Oh, OK.”

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