Editor’s note: During November and December, Capitol Report is profiling all 65 of the newly elected members of the Minnesota Legislature.
Joe Radinovich, House District 10B
Born in April 1986, 26-year-old Joe Radinovich will be the youngest member of the 2013-14 Legislature. Among the trio of legislators born that year, he’s 14 days younger than Rep. Joe Schomacker, R-Luverne, and roughly two months younger than Sen.-elect Branden Petersen, R-Andover.
Radinovich won a surprising victory in the sparsely populated central and northern Minnesota House District 10B, defeating Republican Dale Lueck by 323 votes.
Radinovich got in the race back in February shortly after the redistricting maps created an open seat. Even as he triumphed, however, the results elsewhere on the ballot showed the district’s conservatism: GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney won Crow Wing and Aitkin counties, and the proposed constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage passed with 63 percent of the vote district-wide.
“While there was a prevailing Democratic wind statewide, here locally it was a battle,” Radinovich said.
Radinovich won a DFL primary against Dave Schaaf, who had been a state legislator in the 1970s.
In the general election, Radinovich may have benefited from a mini scandal in which a House Republican campaign staffer wrote a letter to the editor posing as a DFLer and criticized Radinovich. The stunt was quickly exposed, and the staffer was subsequently fired.
Radinovich is part of the fourth generation of his family to live in the Crosby/Ironton area. His ancestors moved there to work in the Cuyuna Iron Range mines. He works for the American Federation of Government Employees.
Radinovich attended Macalester College in St. Paul and has an extensive track record in DFL politics. In 2008, he was a field organizer for the DFL Coordinated Campaign working out of Brainerd. In 2010, he was a delegate at the DFL state convention supporting Paul Thissen’s gubernatorial campaign. Thissen is soon to be Radinovich’s new boss as speaker-elect of the House. He’s also held officer positions with the Crow Wing County DFL and the old Senate District 4 DFL.
Radinovich is already well versed in concerns about school funding equity for greater Minnesota.
“Whether you are a Republican or Democrat up here, it’s something you can get behind, the improvement that’s needed to the education funding formula,” Radinovich said.
He also has a general interest in workforce development issues and would like to serve on the Capital Investment Committee. Radinovich, who is single, likes to hunt ducks and deer. He also tries to spend as much time as possible in the Cuyuna State Recreation Area in his district.
Tim Faust, House District 11B
Tim Faust has a 3-2 record in running for the House and is happy to be returning to St. Paul after losing his seat two years ago. His electoral history charts the course of partisan swings in Minnesota’s past five election cycles. He beat former GOP Rep. Judy Soderstrom of Mora on his second try in 2006 and narrowly won a rematch in the 2008 presidential election year. Rep. Roger Crawford, R-Mora, beat him decisively by 12 percentage points in the 2010 GOP wave.
But Faust, who is a Lutheran pastor for congregations in Cloverdale and Markville, plotted a comeback and fought through DFL endorsement and primary tussles after he was drawn into the new House District 11B, which includes Mora, Pine City and Finlayson. Crawford opted not to seek re-election due to a heart ailment, and Faust beat Republican nominee Ben Weiner by about 2.5 percentage points in the general election.
The new contours of 11B improved DFLers’ chances of winning the seat. The new lines included DFL turf in northern Pine County that used to be represented by Rep. Bill Hilty, DFL-Finlayson, and less territory in GOP-leaning Kanabec County.
Faust returns to the House in the third tier class of seniority, which isn’t high enough for a chairmanship but makes him one to watch for in the future. His previous membership on House committees was heavily weighted toward agriculture and education. He also did a stint as vice chairman of the Ways and Means Committee during his second term, which could give him an improved chance of serving on that powerful finance committee once again.
Faust combines a pro-life voting record with the fiscal views of an economic populist. He would like to see the income tax raised on the state’s wealthiest earners as a way to pay for reinstating the market value homestead credit.
“If they are tied together in one bill, it’s a no-brainer,” he said. “For me, that’s the way it needs to be done. By tying those things together, it’s a fantastic deal for my district, and how could we not support it?”
He would like to pick up where he left off in trying to resolve funding inequities for greater Minnesota school districts. Faust is among a number of greater Minnesota legislators who have complained about the “equalizing factor” in state law that hasn’t been adjusted as property values have risen — a state of affairs that has created problems for greater Minnesota schools.
Another issue for Faust stems from the avalanche of campaign money from outside groups and political parties that was spent on his race. He’s hoping to see legislation that tones down the spending while still upholding free speech rights.
“The people in the district say this is absolutely insane,” Faust said. “And so I think that we need to find ways to get some sensible controls on that.”
The election wasn’t the only 2012 milestone for Faust. On June 30, he got married to his second wife, Jan. He has three boys from his first marriage who are all out of college and working. Jan has three children, the youngest of which is in high school.
Before moving to the Hinckley area roughly four years ago to become a minister, he lived in Mora and worked for a farm supply company.
Faust is very busy with his ministerial duties and took a youth group this year to a national gathering in New Orleans. Outside of politics and the church, Faust enjoys camping in the Boundary Waters and in Canada. Now that the election is over, he’s also looking forward to twice-a-week basketball games with friends.
Shannon Savick, House District 27A
Shannon Savick spent her early years at a trailblazer.
After growing up in the small town of Bricelyn, Minn., and working at a family restaurant, Savick went to Mankato State University to study physics and math — two fields mostly populated by men. She worked at a hospital supply company right out of school while she struggled to break into the burgeoning technology field, another industry where female workers were scarce. She had to use trickery to land her first job at a technology equipment supply company: Savick’s brother conducted the phone interview on her behalf. Company officials weren’t happy when Savick was the one who showed up for work on her first day, but they ultimately kept her on staff.
“The reason I got the job was because I had to call research labs in Iowa, and they needed someone who could talk to the professors and understand what they were talking about,” she said. “A business major couldn’t do that.”
In the 1970s Savick also got involved in the fight for equal rights and pay for women. “I’m a feminist, and I’m proud of that,” she said. Savick remembers being offered “assertiveness classes” during that movement. “They kicked me out because I was too assertive,” Savick said. “I was scaring the other women.”
Savick worked in the technology industry most of her life, a field that took her all around the country. Seven years ago she moved to Wells with her husband to be closer to family and friends. It was in Wells that Savick joined a coffee group with about 10 other women who spent most of their time talking about local politics. They encouraged Savick to run for the Wells City Council.
Savick won that race, and two years later beat an incumbent to win the mayor’s office. After several years, Savick set her sights on Republican Rep. Tony Cornish’s seat in the House. But when the redistricting maps were released in February, Savick found herself in new House District 27A. She ultimately prevailed on Election Day, beating freshman Republican Rep. Rich Murray by about 3 points.
With her background in local government, Savick says she wants to work to restore local government aid cuts made over the last few years. “I was elected mayor when they had a lot of LGA cuts,” she said. “I saw how that negatively affected the quality of life in the small rural communities. We just don’t have the property values that you have in major metropolitan areas. It forced us to raise taxes.”
Savick would also like to serve on the Public Safety Committee. “In small towns we have volunteer fire departments and volunteer first responders. The population is aging, so it’s very hard to recruit young people to do that,” she said. Savick would like to see more incentives for young people to sign up for these positions, possibly through some kind of tax credit for volunteers.
Savick, 72, lives in Wells with her husband and their adopted son. She enjoys painting, reading and doing fix-up projects around her home.
Yvonne Selcer, House District 48A
Yvonne Selcer got interested in the Legislature while working as a teacher and serving on the local school board, but she was brought up in a small business environment.
Selcer’s first job was with the family business, the Winsted Telephone Company. After earning a degree in education from the College of St. Theresa in Winona and working as a teacher for several years, Selcer returned to the private sector. She worked as a sales manager with Payroll General Corporation in Burnsville and Solar Resources in St. Paul and was branch manager of Duling Optical in Golden Valley. “Business was in my blood,” she said.
That’s not to downplay her extensive work in the education world. After working as a teacher, including time spent teaching special education, Selcer got involved in lobbying on education issues at the Capitol in the early 2000s. Before long, Selcer’s friends encouraged her to run for a seat on the Hopkins School Board. She won her first term in 2003 and was re-elected for a second term, serving until December of 2011. While on the board, Selcer served two years as treasurer and three years as chairwoman. Under her guidance, the board was the first in the state to set up its own audit committee and won awards for fiscal excellence from Govs. Tim Pawlenty and Mark Dayton. “When I came to the school board, there was quite a fiscal mess,” Selcer said. “I rolled up my sleeves right away.”
It wasn’t long after Selcer retired from the board that local DFLers first eyed her as a prospective legislative candidate. “I thought, ‘I love our community and our state, and I know we can do better than government shutdowns,’” Selcer said. She took on freshman Republican Rep. Kirk Stensrud in what became one of the most expensive House races of the cycle. She won in the Eden Prairie/Minnetonka area district by less than 1 point — largely, she says, because of her experience in both the public and private sector. “I door-knocked and talked to thousands of people in our district, and their concerns were about jobs and the economy and quality of life,” she said.
Now, Selcer says she wants to serve on education and economic committees. She would like to see more work done at the Legislature on early childhood education. Selcer also has interest in the Transportation Committee, as the proposed Southwest Light Rail Corridor would cut right through her community.
Selcer has been married to her husband, Chuck, for 26 years. They have two children, Danielle and Jared. She has lived in her district for 25 years: 10 years in Eden Prairie and 15 years in Minnetonka. In her spare time, Selcer loves to read, go to the theater and spend time outdoors. She has an passion for early American history.