Two Democratic-Farmer-Labor legislators won re-election Tuesday night as part of a DFL takeover of the state House and Senate.
Rep. Phyllis Kahn and Sen. Kari Dziedzic were voted in with overwhelming margins in House District 60B and Senate District 60, respectively. Both districts include the University of Minnesota.
Both Kahn and Dziedzic previously served District 59, which became District 60 after redistricting this spring. Kahn’s House district is one of two in Dziedzic’s Senate District. There was little effect on the districts, but part of the Seward neighborhood was added to Kahn’s House District.
The win marks Kahn’s 21st to the Legislature and Dziedzic’s second after she was elected in January during a special election following the resignation of the district’s long-term senator.
Kahn won with about 78 percent of the vote over her opponent, Republican Kody Zalewski, who had about 21 percent of the vote.
Zalewski said he decided to run after campaigning with the Ron Paul campaign.
“Some people who were also involved said that I had some good ideas and should give it a shot,” he said.
Dziedzic won about 77 percent of the vote. Her opponent, Republican Mark Lazarchic, gained about 17 percent of the vote.
During her campaign, Dziedzic worked closely with Kahn. The two were often found door knocking together in the district’s neighborhoods. Dziedzic said she also connected with voters during a Mississippi River walk.
Though many University students at the polls said they had not heard of Kahn or Dziedzic, political science junior Alicia Brenhaug was familiar with the two.
“[Kahn’s] really concerned with the University as a whole and with University concerns,” Brenhaug said.
As for Dziedzic, she said “she really represents the district well and I think she’s really reached out to students.”
Dziedzic said education and business are priorities for her. She wants the University to be recognized as an important employer in District 60 as well as an important educator.
She said she most enjoys connecting with her constituents and having “the privilege and honor to help people.”
Kahn said she looks forward to the session ahead and “getting things done.”
She hasn’t decided yet whether she will retire after this session, she said, but will make that decision later. She is 75 years old and has served for nearly 40 years.