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Rep. Randy Jessup, R-Shoreview, is an engineer and has three patents in his name. (Staff photo: Bill Klotz)
Rep. Randy Jessup, R-Shoreview, is an engineer and has three patents in his name. (Staff photo: Bill Klotz)

Breaking the Ice: Informal lobbying led to House seat

Name: Randy Jessup

Title: Representative, District 42A

Education: B.A., pre-engineering, Bethel University; B.S., chemical engineering, University of Minnesota; MBA, marketing, University of Minnesota

Randy Jessup scored a legislative victory before the freshman representative and assistant majority leader won election to his first term in the House.

Jessup, R-Shoreview, owns four UPS stores that offer notary public services. In 2014, he lobbied successfully as a private citizen for a bill increasing the amount notaries can charge, which had been flat for years while state fees rose sharply.

Jessup served four years as a member and four as chair of the UPS franchisee advisory committee, further developing his sense of “where to push, where to understand you’re not going to get everything you want, and a willingness to work with others.”

That plus Jessup’s lobbying experience persuaded him to run for office. Jessup faced incumbent DFLer Barb Yarusso, losing by 220 votes in 2014 before defeating her by 125 votes in 2016.

Before UPS, Jessup was an executive with Pillsbury, Quaker Oats and Ecolab.

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

A. I appreciate an introduction by first name. During the campaign, if you were to see my campaign sign, it was, “Vote Randy.” The Randy was highlighted; my last name, Jessup, was minimized. I like to touch base with people on a first-name basis. I’d rather not have titles.

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

A. I probably voted initially for [Jimmy] Carter and then I certainly voted for [Walter] Mondale. But then I gravitated to the independent candidate (Ross Perot) and then I shifted over to the Republican candidates from there on.

Q. What is a pet peeve of yours?

A. Probably the one that does come up for me is, if someone is speaking you should want to at least be paying partial attention. I’ve noticed this in committees first. If someone is speaking to the committee it’s good to make sure that you’re understanding or listening and paying attention to what they have to say.

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

A. I run marathons. I like to run. I try to run a marathon a year. I signed up this year for Twin Cities. I’ve run 26 in the past.

Q. How has an event or person inspired you?

A. Overall I’m a person of faith, so I would certainly point to my Christian faith. That’s my guiding direction. I don’t mean to impose my Christian values upon others, but I do wish to impose that we all need to work diligently, to work together, and to treat each other respectfully and, wherever possible, to show compassion to those around us.

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

A. My overall objective for Democrats and Republicans is that we elect leaders that can work together — and fundamentally that is probably the characteristic that I would most like to see in our political leaders from both parties. The shutdown that we had — 2011 — was a really bad time for our state. We never want to duplicate that time period in our history.

Q. Where do you like to eat lunch?

A. I usually pack yogurt, a banana, some nuts and carrots.

Q. If you’re not at your desk, where are you likely to be?

A. At one of the four stores. I’m very thankful for the many people who work for me because I am very dependent on a lot of great people. I would not be here without all of their commitment and support.

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

A. I’m an engineer. I have three patents in my name. I went and got an MBA in marketing. I introduced a lot of new products. One that’s visible was my creation 20 years ago for Quaker Oats Co. was oatmeal in a cup. The market that I was serving was warehouse clubs, convenience stores and hotels. The popularity was such that it then expanded and went onto the retail shelf. It started out as soup in a cup. I took that concept and said we could do that with oatmeal. That was a good opportunity.

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