When Senator Branden Petersen (R – SD 35) announced his resignation last September, a marathon sprint ensued between several competitors to fill the vacant seat. Senate District 35 covers Anoka, Ramsey, as well as portions of Andover and Coon Rapids. Four candidates originally sought the Republican nomination, and now only two remain.
Conservative activist Andy Aplikowski received the endorsement in November, but former State Representative Jim Abeler decided to continue his campaign. With less than a week until voters go to the polls for the Republican Primary, Alpha News takes a final look at the two candidates.
Aplikowski, 40, is the Chief Operating Officer for his family’s manufactured housing community business. Aplikowski received several prominent endorsements including Congressman Tom Emmer.
Abeler, 61, is an Anoka chiropractor and served sixteen years in the Minnesota House of Representatives. Leading up to the endorsing convention Abeler had a long list of endorsements including eye-catching names such as former U.S. Senator Dave Durenberger and former Governer Al Quie. Several city council members and representatives also endorsed Abeler, but their support did not sway the local delegates signaling an anti-establishment mood in 2016.
Abeler and Aplikowski shared with Alpha News the reasoning behind their candidacy, as well as how they will approach the upcoming bonding bill during their first year in the Senate. Abeler says he is running to focus on the issues of “transportation, education, health care costs, property taxes, veterans, seniors, problems with the Anoka Regional Treatment Center” and more.
Aplikowski says he is a “firm believer in lower taxes, less government, and more personal freedom” and will “make safe roads and bridges in the North Metro a priority, not a last-minute bargaining chip.” Aplikowski went on to say that he believes he shares the values of the district, saying, “I believe all life begins at conception and deserves protections, parents should have a say in their children’s education, families can decide what health care and insurance is best for them, and the Second Amendment shall not be infringed.”
If elected to the Legislature, the chosen Senator will spend their first session focusing on the upcoming bonding bill.
Abeler says his priorities for the upcoming bonding year include, “funding for the Hwy 10 improvement project and other roads/bridges” and that he would not support “anything in there for the St Paul soccer stadium.”
Aplikowski says his hope is to, “encourage my fellow Legislators to rethink the way we bond. These should be long-term investments for transportation and public safety projects that meet critical and immediate needs, not pork projects to help local and state politicians get reelected.”